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Author Topic: Haida Gwaii (former Queen Charlotte Islands) trip report, with a few photos  (Read 1977 times)


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    • my Hot Springs and Highways pages

On my way back from southeast Alaska, during my recently-concluded trans-continental road trip, I took a side trip to Haida Gwaii (the official name adopted a few years ago, for what were once called the Queen Charlotte Islands) off the west coast of British Columbia near Prince Rupert. From the roadgeek perspective, the most notable thing about Haida Gwaii is its isolated segment of Trans-Canada Highway route 16, connected only by a seven-hour-long BC Ferries auto ferry route to the rest of the TCH and the Canadian highway network. (There are no other numbered provincial highways on Haida Gwaii.) Since both Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert are in the same regional district (one kind of county equivalent in British Columbia), I didn't need to visit for county-snagging purposes.

I drove the TCH segment right after driving off the ferry in Skidegate, heading about 100 km north to the route's west end in Masset. Both Skidegate and Masset are on Haida Gwaii's northern main island, Graham Island. The main southern island, Moresby Island, is connected to Graham Island by auto ferries to and from Skidegate, with no direct connection to the mainland. I didn't visit Moresby Island.

It rained during most of my brief stay on Haida Gwaii. But the rain let up enough when I absolutely needed to take some photos of both ends of the highway.

The route is two-lane and paved, with no passing lanes and limited passing opportunities. It is mostly posted at a relaxing 90 km/h speed limit (the mainland part of the TCH is usually posted at 100 km/h), except in the villages of Skidegate and Masset at each end, and Port Clements in the middle of the route. As with the mainland portion of TCH 16, the highway on Haida Gwaii is co-designated and -signed as part of the Yellowhead Highway. (BC 5 on the mainland, which is not part of the TCH system except for a short multiplex with TCH 1 in Kamloops, also has Yellowhead route markers.)

^  Haida Gwaii's TCH segment begins here in Masset, at the Hodges Ave. turnoff to the village centre. This photo is facing eastbound at that intersection, with the village centre to the right.

^  This sign, in front of the visitor centre just south of the Masset turnoff, confirms that "mile 0" (a pre-metric relic) is at the turnoff. That's consistent with the official kilometre posts, every 5 km descending toward zero (but no official km 0) as you approach Masset from the south. Some maps indicate that the route continues past the turnoff, but I saw no signs confirming that when I drove the road a few km past Masset to Tow Hill village. Also. the official route definition has the route ending in Masset.

^  This sign assembly, with both TCH and Yellowhead route markers, is just south of Masset's southern village limit, about 1 km south of the village centre.

^  At the other end of the route in Skidegate, as soon as you drive off the ferry, you have to drive straight through this intersection, with no direct right turn onto the TCH north to Masset or left turn west toward Queen Charlotte village. The traffic light is activated by terminal traffic at the stop line, so cross traffic almost always has the green light.

BTW, this might be Haida Gwaii's only stoplight, though I'm not positive there isn't another one in Queen Charlotte village, and maybe there's one on Moresby Island.

^  Rather, you curl around north then west on a short one-way jughandle, to this intersection where TCH/Yellowhead signage directs you left to Masset. You can also turn right here to go west to Queen Charlotte village. As with the other end of the route, even though some maps have the route continuing past the ferry terminal to Queen Charlotte, both the official route definition and signage in the field (there is no route 16 signage west of this intersection, or at this intersection pointing west to Queen Charlotte) say otherwise.

^  Returning to the Skidegate ferry terminal from Masset, at this intersection traffic to the ferry is directed to take a right turn onto the same jughandle used by traffic leaving the ferry (no left turn allowed here). Like Masset-bound traffic, traffic boarding the ferry takes a left turn at the end of the jughandle, but before returning to this intersection from the west, makes a right turn to the ticket booth and vehicle staging area (on the left side of the highway, just past the blue-roofed terminal building). You can also drive straight through this intersection if you're heading a few km west of the ferry terminal to Queen Charlotte village, which has many of Graham Island's motels including the one where I stayed.

The ferry terminal serves auto ferries bound not only for Prince Rupert, but also to and from Alliford Bay on Moresby Island.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2016, 08:15:41 PM by oscar »
my Hot Springs and Highways pages, with links to my roads sites:


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Looks like a quiet place to visit. I'd like to see the interior and north of BC myself. It is on my list for one day.

Thanks for posting the pictures. Google isn't out there yet.


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