Kayaking Glacier Bay

Mt. Wright to Beartrack Cove: Trip Description

If you are making Trip 2 as a continuation of Trip 1, paddle this trip route in reverse (northbound). This trip begins at the Mt. Wright drop-off point, or the mainland shore east of Garforth Island (Map 3). From the Mt. Wright drop-off, paddle 2 miles south to a sizable stream. South of this stream—its shoreline previously bare—becomes wooded. Go 1 mile south of the stream to a small point (topo survey mark GOOSE), which provides shelter from northerly winds and waves (Map 2). Continue 1 mile south of GOOSE to a distinct point offering protection.

Camping here is possible after the bear closure ends on August 15. There are limited camping sites along this shore; just where you pitch a tent depends upon whether winter storms have removed or deposited gravel on beaches and coves and at points. If sufficient gravel is present in front of the sloping confines of these coves or points, campsites can easily be made at high-water mark.

From the sheltering point it is an easy 1-mile paddle off Puffin Island. From the north end, continue 1 mile along the shore of Puffin. Clear water and good conditions here ensure lots of interesting life among the rocks in the intertidal zone. You may see the nesting sites of the tufted puffin. At the south end of Puffin Island is the delightful head of North Sandy Cove. Explore its east and south shores, where tiny, tucked-away coves ensure intimacy in these very sheltered waters. Along a section of the shore, grassy flats provide grazing for black bears making their rounds in the early spring.

A narrow passage at the south end of North Sandy Cove may lead to South Sandy Cove during higher tides. The more reliable route leads northwest. Paddle 1 mile along the west shore of Puffin Island to a tiny, narrow islet that lies just yards off the west side of Puffin. Turn west, rounding the north end of the islet, then paddle 1.5 miles south to the entrance of South Sandy Cove. During low water, it is best to stay south of the islet with the topo survey mark DANCE before turning east and continuing 1 mile to the head of South Sandy Cove.

From South Sandy Cove, head 1.5 miles southwest around the point with topo survey mark SANDY, then paddle 1.5 miles east to the headwaters of Spokane Cove (13 miles from the Mt. Wright drop-off). Camping restrictions end on the north shore of Wolf Creek, flowing into Spokane Cove. You can camp southeast of the cove if you believe that the bears respect their closure boundaries and won't cross Wolf Creek. After the camping closure ends, the better sites are found along the north shore of the peninsula, southwest of the cove.

From Spokane Cove, you can visit Leland Island, and perhaps North and South Marble islands if conditions are calm. North Marble Island lies 4.5 miles southwest of the head of Spokane Cove. This open-water crossing is edged somewhat by Leland Island, about 1.5 miles south of the midway point. South Marble Island is 2 miles south of its northern sister. Open water of this nature should be undertaken with caution after assessing both the weather conditions and your capabilities.

Paddle 4 miles south from Spokane Cove to York Creek. The shoreline along this section is characterized by slopes rising steeply from the water to elevations of 1,000 feet. Camping between Spokane Cove and York Creek is extremely limited, as is shelter. A small, jutting point just north of York Creek offers camping and protection from the waves. Be aware that there is a shallow, submerged rock just off this point. Landing is easy on a gravel beach just south of the stream mouth in York Creek Cove. A great camping area exists 0.5 mile south of the topo survey mark GOAT. Several fine gravel beaches offer choice spots. In early season, water is often available near the east end of the beach.

From York Creek, paddle 3.5 miles south to the topo survey mark LAMB. From LAMB, paddle 1.5 miles east into the head of Beartrack Cove. Beartrack Island, on the north shore of the cove, marks the beginning of tidal flats that extend to the head of the cove and south of the inflow of the Beartrack River. The north shoreline slopes steeply to nearly 4,000 feet, while the south and east shores of the cove are almost flat, rising little more than 100 feet two miles inland. From the head of Beartrack Cove, paddle 3 miles southwest along the south shore to the heel of the cove. Watch for submerged rocks along this shoreline. The small coves in this area invite exploration, but remember that many will become mud flats at low water. Your chart may indicate a channel through to the Beardslee Islands here, but at normal water levels this passage is dry.

From the small coves, go 1.5 miles northwest, past the point with the topo survey mark BACK, to a passage leading south between the peninsula to your left, and the island just west of it. This spot marks the end of the trip described in this chapter (27 miles from the Mt. Wright drop-off).

From this point, you may end the paddle by continuing 15 miles south through the Beardslee Islands to Bartlett Cove as described in Chapter 5 (Trip 1). Alternatively, paddle north and return to the Mt. Wright pickup point. Excluding the cove side trips described on the southbound route, the Mt. Wright pickup point is 20 miles away.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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