MAUDE ISLAND TRAIL
Cell phone reception on this trail is generally good.
The red circle on above map shows the area of the Maude Island Trail. Click on the map to enlarge.
Maude Island beside Seymour Narrows is the historic 1950s site of the greatest man-made explosion the world had ever seen apart from the atomic bombs dropped during WW II. (See photos at bottom of this page). The Ripple Rock Explosion was a planned event and came about after miners tunnelled into the rock of Maude Island, then tunnelled out under the sea floor and then tunnelled up inside the dreaded Ripple Rock. Inside the rock they laid very many tons of dynamite. Ripple Rock was a rock outcrop which jutted out from the ocean floor here and sunk many ships and took many lives. The explosion removed Ripple Rock’s deadly sharp top, and cleared this important passage, allowing ships to pass through safely.
To hike the Maude Island Trail you drive north from Heriot Bay for about 6 kms to the Walcan Road, which joins the main road on your left, halfway up a steep hill on the road. The Walcan Road is signposted on your left with a ” ⇐ Walcan Seafood ” sign. This dirt road takes you a kilometer or so to the Morte Lake Trail car-park on your right, which is one access point for the Maude Island Trail. This is first and longest of the two ways to access the Morte Lake Trail. (1) Park your car here at the Morte Lake car-park and then hike to Morte Lake (aprox. 30mins) to where the trail forks, then hike around either side of the lake to its far shore (aprox. 30mins more) until you reach the signpost pointing to the Maude Island Trail, where you then hike northwest from the Morte Lake Trail. The Maude Island trail takes you through forest for about 20 minutes then meets the shorter trail to Maude Island and after another 10 minutes the trail meets an old logging road where you go left (west).
From the arrow-sign, you continue along the trail for about 15 minutes until you arrive at the BC Forest Service sign, where there is an old decaying vehicle. From here you continue up the trail to where it forks at another signpost. This signpost indicates that you can go right and take the bluffs route, or left and take the shoreline route to Maude Island. In fact the two options form a loop trail which joins again nearer Maude Island. If you go right to take the bluffs trail it climbs up and around the base of Mount Lolo, leading you through a network of bluffs from which there are some good views over Discovery Passage. If taking this trail, ensure you locate each next trail marker before moving on as you hike through the bluffs, to ensure you do not become disoriented. The trail is generally well-marked with cairns, red metal squares nailed to trees, and bright orange or pink flagging tape. From the bluffs it takes you down steeply to the Maude Island Trail beside the Seymour Narrows coastline to the signpost shown below at N 50° 8.433′ W 125° 20.642′.
From here you can go left along the shoreline and back to your car, or, go right and hike the next half- hour out to the Maude Island historic site with its great lookouts over Seymour Narrows.
After coming down from the bluffs, if you took that trail, you follow the main trail southwest until you arrive at this causeway ( built in early 1950s to service the Ripple Rock demolition crew). You walk across this causeway and continue along the trail on the northwest coast of Maude Island until the trail ends at the ocean, overlooking Seymour Narrows and the old Ripple Rock site.
On your way back you can either take the easier shoreline route, or the Mount Lolo Bluffs route which requires some climbing up the trail.
From Morte Lake carpark to the end of the Maude Island Trail allow yourself three hours of hiking time each way.
(2) The alternative and shorter access to Maude Island can be found if you drive along the Walcan Road and go past the Morte Lake car-park and then continue on past Mud Lake on the right, and after a kilomtetre or so turn right down the first logging road on the right, which turns off the main road opposite Sorenson large quarry and begins to go downhill. Continue driving down this logging road until you come to a side road on your right which is sign-posted ‘Q 80’, at GPS point N50°, 7.879′, W125°, 19.280′
. Turn right here and follow Q 80 past two small roads going off to the right. Stay on the main Q80 road and you will see two signs directing you on to the Maude Island Trail. Stay on this road until you come to the Maude Island Trail parking area on your right. The trail is clearly sign-posted here, and well-flagged with flagging tape.. From here the trail takes you in about 90 minutes’ walking to Maude Island.
The Maude Island ‘Shortcut’ Trailhead at GPS point : N50º, 8.923′, W125°, 19.093′. (photo taken on 24th April, 2018)
Follow this trail for 15 minutes and then it joins an old road which you follow west for 20 minutes to an old abandoned International Scout jeep.
Here at the Scout there is the Forest Service sign indicating the trail direction. Follow the trail and after 10 minutes it branches at another signpost where one branch goes up onto Mount Lolo and takes you up to some bluffs and good views of Seymour Narrows and then drops back to the main trail to Maud Island. The lower branch takes you around the shoreline rather than up onto Mount Lolo. It is good to go out to Maud Island via one branch, then return via the other branch and thus travel in a loop, if such is your style. From the signpost where the the two trail options join again, you continue along the main trail for 15 minutes and you reach the causeway which joins Maud Island to Quadra, and from there it’s another 15 minutes to the lookout point at the end of the trail on Maud Island, under the huge hydro pylons, as shown below.
While exploring the many logging roads in this area, if you arrive at the gate shown below, you know you’re on the wrong track and have overshot the Q 80 turnoff to Morte Lake and the Maude Island Trail shortcut. Please respect the logging operations and keep away from active logging and beware of logging trucks using these roads as they have the right of way and the logging companies keep the roads open for public use. Thank you.
If you see one of these signs, above, on any roads on Quadra Island, please slow down and anticipate large logging trucks on the road.
Above: Three trails-work volunteers enjoy lunch beside Seymour Narrows at the far end of the Maude Island Trail.
In the photo below a large tug plows its way north through Surge Narrows, as seen from Maude Island Trail.
It is interesting to sit and have lunch at the end of the trail on Maude Island and watch the vessel traffic passing through the narrows. This traffic includes naval vessels, huge cruise ships, and huge tugs towing huge loads. Many of these vessels are coming from and going to such destinations as Alaska.
Here, below, is a large pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins as seen from the Maud island Trail lookout at Seymour Narrows, on 24th April, 2018. They are working hard to swim against the strong tide as they swim north. Photo by Greg Ross, 24th April, 2018.
The Ripple Rock Explosion was the biggest human-made explosion ever, apart from the atom bombs used on Japan in 1945. Below are three photos of that huge explosion beside Quadra Island in 1950, an explosion which removed Ripple Rock and made Seymour Narrows much safer for the busy shipping there.