Naikoon – Agate Beach and Misty Meadows
Naikoon Agate Beach and Misty Meadows Provincial Park is bordered by a hundred kilometres of expansive beach, attracting thousands of park visitors each summer. From Rose Point at the northeast tip of Graham Island (the largest of the Queen Charlotte Islands) broad, sandy beaches seem to stretch endlessly to form the eastern and northern boundaries of this unique and intriguing park. Many come to visit these vast rocky, sandy beaches to browse and identify various rocks, stones and pebbles while exploring up and down the shores.
The park of 69,166 hectares occupies part of the Hecate Depression, a trough between the Outer Mountains to the west and the Coast Mountains on the mainland to the east. Most of the Park’s topographic features are formed by underlying glacial deposits. In the northeast corner, Argonaut Hill, the highest point in the park, rises only 150 metres above sea level. Tow Hill, an outcrop of basalt columns, is a prominent landmark about 100 metres high on the north beach.
Throughout the year, the climate here is mild, moderated by moist Pacific air. Cool, rainy, or foggy weather and high winds can occur at any time; campers and hikers should always be equipped with warm clothing and wet-weather gear.
The first European to see the Queen Charlotte Islands was Juan Perez, exploring under the orders of the Spanish Viceroy of California. In July 1774, he sighted a remote headland on Langara Islands. The islands were named in July 1787 by Captain George Dixon, after his ship "Queen Charlotte".
Settlers started to farm in the Charlottes in the early 1900s. Many chose to homestead in the area that is now Naikoon Park, growing vegetables, raising cattle and taking gold from the sand beaches. Most people, however, had to abandon their efforts before the Great Depression, due to difficult drainage, poor access, World War I and the lack of markets. Many of the interesting place names in the area are reminders of their presence.
The Queen Charlotte Islands have been called "The Misty Islands", referring not only to the moist, mild climate, but to the mystique of their native inhabitants, the Haida Indians – legendary seafarers with a reputation for adventure. The art of the Haidas is famous worldwide. Majestic and intriguing cedar totem poles and carvings, argillite statuary and intricately designed woven baskets and hats of spruce root were once representations of a clan's wealth and prestige.
Species native to the park area include black bear, marten, river otter, and several other mammals which made the salt water crossing from the mainland. Sea mammals include dolphins and harbour porpoises. Hair seals can be seen regularly at Rose Spit and all along the north and east beaches. Northern fur seals and California grey whales migrate northward during May and June.
Sitka Blacktail deer were brought in about 80 years ago and, with abundant forage and no wild predators, they have prospered. Other species such as raccoons, red squirrels, beaver, and muskrat have been introduced. Small herds of wild cattle, remnants of domestic stock from the days of early settlement, have been seen along the east coast. The bird population of the Charlottes is similar to the nearby mainland although many species have not crossed Hecate Strait.
Rose Spit is an excellent spot for observing migrating birds travelling south on the Pacific Flyway. Upwelling currents produce much food along the spit, attracting pelagic species rarely seen from the shore. Sandhill cranes gather here after nesting in the park bogs and shorebirds abound.
There are two campgrounds, available on a first-come, first-served basis (no reservations): Misty Meadows Campground (30 vehicle/tent sites and 10 tent pads) near park headquarters in Tlell, facilities provided include pit toilets, water and a picnic-day use area with shelter. Agate Beach Campground (32 vehicle and 11 tent sites), these sites are equipped with cooking shelters, pit toilets and water. Wilderness camping is permitted throughout the park. Three rustic wilderness shelters are located along East Beach near the mouths of Cape Ball and Oceanda Rivers, and at Fife Point.
The Park is open all year and fees are collected from May to September. Campground hosts are often available at the Misty Meadows campground during the summer months to provide information and assistance to visitors.
Please be extremely careful with fire, matches, and cigarettes. Primus-type stoves should be utilized for all cooking. The Park's lakes and streams are the source of drinking water. Help protect the delicate balance of the water system by washing yourself, your clothes, and dishes at least 30 metres from lakes or streams and please don't clean fish in them.
ATV's are not allowed to be used in the campsites and must be moved by trailer to the beach access points. It is illegal to run ATV's on Tow Hill road or any other highway unless they are registered and displaying licence plates. The fine for running non licensed ATV's on roadways is $600.00.
If you see any environmental or cultural damage, please record and report to the Naikoon Park office in Tlell at (250) 557-4390.
Respect existing Park guidelines
In recent years, motorized traffic has been on the rise, increasing the potential for damage to Naikoon Park’s sensitive ecosystems and cultural sites. Therefore, hikers, beach walkers, fishers, cyclists and motorized vehicle users are asked to respect the environment and other visitors and to keep to the existing Park guidelines.
To minimize your impact, travel high upon the beach but below the driftwood line - Avoid the sensitive lower beach and upper sand dunes.
ATV use is NOT permitted anywhere else in Naikoon Park - Do NOT use ATVs on Naikoon’s environmentally-sensitive hiking trails. You are responsible for your vehicle and any damage caused by use of your vehicle. ATV and 4 x 4 vehicles are permitted on North Beach and East Beach ONLY!
Avoid travelling on Rose Spit which supports an endangered plant community and is critical habitat for many local and migratory bird species.
Dune areas: Visitors should avoid travelling on the sand dunes as disturbance can lead to loss of plant life, increased erosion, exposure and damage to cultural sites. Tire tracks and repeated foot traffic through the sand dunes cause extensive environmental damage. The root systems of plants are broken and wind causes erosion. Once the stabilizing grasses are damaged, the wind continues to shift the dunes, burying the forest, trails, and camping spots.
Located 26km N.E. of Masset, northern tip area of Graham Island. Drive north on Hwy 16 from Skidegate BC Ferry towards Masset Village. Continue north-east of Masset Village on the main Highway over the Sangan River into the Tow Hill area into the Naikoon Provincial Park.
The headquarters for Naikoon Provincial Park are located at the southeast extremity of the park at the community of Tlell, on the highway just south of the bridge over the Tlell River. The village of Masset provides the gateway into the park, with road access along Tow Hill Road to the north coast of the park.