Been as far as Desolation and haven’t ventured further, take a break from the warm waters and hike to an old goldmine! East Thurlow Island was once the home of an active gold mine. Shoal Bay as we know it today is the home of a rustic marina, but it once was an active gold mine town with a school and two hotels. As with most logging and mining activity, once the mine shut down some of the equipment was left behind with some of it still being visible today.
Access to the trail starts from just behind the marina property. Anchor in the bay or moor at the marina, have a lovely stroll through the marina vegetable garden and make your way to the back left side of the property. As with any cruising hiking, half the fun is trying to find the trail and this one is really no different. We walked through the property, but you can also walk along the beach to get to the other side of the property to find the trail. Once you’re in the back property you’ll need to cross a creek in two different spots on route to the trail head. The Shoal Bay Marina residents are very friendly and are happy to give directions to the trail head. You will need proper footwear for this hike, I wouldn’t recommend simple flip flops.
The hike is about 1.5 hours and around the half way point there is a lovely lookout, elevation approximately 1,050 ft. The start of the trail looks like a stream bed, but it does turn into more of a proper trail a little further up. Once you’re on the trail it’s easy to follow. The trail is marked with flagging tape and we found it pretty easy to follow. Not too far into the hike you’ll find signs of the old mine, the first being an old donkey engine.
As you approach the gold mine be careful. It looks like there were probably three access points at some point, all seem to be largely collapsed but one. When you reach the gold mine, the opening has a small opening with a large pipe on the side. Be very careful if you enter the shaft. About 50 ft into the tunnel there is a vertical shaft you can fall into. The tunnel is dark so unless you have a flashlight you shouldn’t enter. It appears some adventurous folks have put a large log across the vertical shaft, allowing them to go caving??? Yes, I’m sure that’s fun but I passed on that option. A word of caution, when you walk into the tunnel it’s great to keep your flashlight focused on the ground. Me not being a spider person, really didn’t appreciate the friends hanging out on the tunnel ceiling. They of course stay put and you’re fine to walk in, I personally just didn’t want to see them.
The hike was gorgeous. The lookout view was stunning and it’s not everyday to get to hike to the entrance of an abandoned gold mine.
Go here for some history of BC.