Thursday, June 20, 2013

Discovering Gray Bay: A Haida Gwaii beach adventure




Fisherman's cabin in remote Moresby Island
While vacationing in Sandspit on Moresby Island, you’ll enjoy rocky beaches, tide pools and daily sightings of eagles nesting, flying or feeding.

But let’s say you want to explore another aspect of the island. Within less than an hour’s drive you can adventure through beautiful green forest via a logging road, explore rocky bays and then come to a lovely sandy beach. This is Gray Bay, a place where you can swim, picnic and camp. It’s a remote park, an area preserved due to its natural beauty.
The beauty of the Copper River.

Getting to Gray Bay
If you are in Sandspit, drive down School Road to Copper Bay Road which will lead you to the logging roads that take you to Gray Bay via Copper Bay. Once you reach the unpaved section of the road it is 21 kilometers to the bay. Be sure and have sufficient gas for the trip. Also, since the road is gravel and mud, don’t go during a downpour. Another bit of advice… be sure and bring bug repellent.

There is a 40 kilometer loop that will include this area but I found the trip to Gray Bay to be a short little trip for a picnic and walk on the beach if you just take the logging roads in this area.

Enjoy the Scenery
Copper Bay
Along the way, you’ll see interesting ramshackle fishermen’s cabins and remote homes of some Haida, especially along the rivers and inlets. A real treat is the part of the road that follows along the amazingly beautiful Copper River as it winds through the green forest. Be prepared, also, to see logged areas and watch for trucks as this is an active logging area.

From mid-September on, fishermen flock to the mouth of the Copper River to fish for Coho Salmon. Interestingly, the familiar Copper River Salmon are not from here, but from the Copper River in Alaska.

The beautiful forests you will see are alder, giant spruce and hemlock. On the forest floor you’ll find large furs and mossy growth on logs that have fallen after the strong winds of winter. In the woods are deer and bear.

Watch carefully for signs that will point you to the bays and, finally, the Provincial protected area. You’ll find pull outs with beautifully made log picnic tables. Follow the little paths through the short wooded area to the beach. Gray Bay is a crescent shaped gray sandy beach. Locals will tell you that in the summer the beach warms the water so it is actually a very pleasant swimming area.
Enjoy the sandy beach of Gray Bay at low tide

There are some interesting hiking trails. Not far from Gray Bay is the Secret Cove Trail and another trail starts from the south end of Gray Bay and leads to Cumshewa Head.

You can camp here but it is best to be an experienced camper who can handle the lack of amenities and the presence of bears.