Turnbull Cove has the trail you are looking for.
Turnbull Cove is one of the northernmost anchorages in the Broughtons. It’s popular with cruisers because it has plenty of room to accommodate a large number of boats, and is a popular spot for crabbing. Most of the terrain surrounding Turnbull Cove is steep, and first-time visitors will immediately notice a couple of landslides on the north and west sides of the bay.
The cove makes for a great base from which to explore nearby Roaring Hole Rapids and Nepah Lagoon. It also has a couple of lesser-known gems that visiting boaters will definitely want to explore, such as the trail to Huaskin Lake. There aren’t many places to hike in the Broughton Archipelago, and boaters who enjoy anchoring out multiple days will appreciate the opportunity to stretch their legs.
Turnbull Cove has the Trail You’re Looking For
How to Get to Huaskin Lake Trail Head
On the north side of Turnbull Cove is a dinghy landing and trail to nearby Huaskin Lake, maintained by Recreation Sites and Trails BC. The dinghy landing is ashore of a group of pilings standing in the water. Maintain vigilance for rocks and deadheads to the right of the pilings as you come ashore.
Off to the right of the trailhead, you can find the rusty remains of an old steam donkey that was once used to pull logs from Huaskin Lake down to Turnbull Cove.
The numerous logs and chains visible on the foreshore at low tide near the dinghy landing are evidence of the extensive logging activity that took place here 30-40 years ago.
Hiking to Huaskin Lake
The trail to Huaskin Lake is an easy hike, about 400 yards, with an estimated elevation change of about 400 feet. At the lake, you’ll find a dock, a picnic table, and outhouse toilets. A previous visitor has generously left a paddle board and oars on the dock for others to use.
About Huaskin Lake and Trail
Huaskin Lake is massive with an estimated 37 miles of shoreline and has three main arms. Two arms extend about five miles north of the main body of the lake, and another arm runs seven miles west, clear out to north of Jennis Bay. This is bear country, and it’s not uncommon to see bear signs – scat – along the trail. Make noise as you hike, which helps deter those unwanted encounters.
You might notice that the trail area is mostly covered by alders that have regrown since logging activity ceased 30-40 years ago. The narrow strip, where the trail is today, was once a muddy chute used to transport logs out of Huaskin Lake by steam donkey down to Turnbull Cove for transport to mills.
Along the upper reaches of the trail, you will notice a huge log and a few smaller bolts that never quite made it down to the cove. If you make it over to Port McNeill, make sure you visit the intact steam donkey on the waterfront near the ferry dock. This steam donkey was donated by Owen Lane, who operated a logging camp at Turnbull Cove for 25 years, according to Bill Proctor’s book, Full Moon Flood Tide.
Our anchorage tip: During our many visits to Turnbull, we’ve always anchored on the east side, where we seem to find the calmest water.
For more information about entering and anchoring in Turnbull Cove, check out page 338 of the 2018 Waggoner Cruising Guide.
~ Brett and Sue Oemichen, Waggoner Guide Field Correspondents