The southwestern corner of Prince of Wales Island, a complex network of bays and inlets, and a cluster of islands known as the Barrier Islands make up this Wilderness. On Prince of Wales Island, the topography of the southern portion of the area undulates gently around numerous streams, lakes, and wetlands. In the northern portion the terrain rises abruptly to over 2,500 feet. Precipitation in excess of 100 inches per year has created a lush forest of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, Alaska yellow cedar, and western red cedar with a ground cover of shrubs and grasses. The Barrier Islands are composed of approximately 75 small islands, ranging from a few acres to over 500 acres, and many smaller rocks. Frequent and fierce storms of the vast North Pacific buffet these islands. Tidal surges can be sudden and powerful among these attractive little bits of land. One of the first Haida villages in southeast Alaska, Klinkwan, was established in the 1800s, and then abandoned in 1911, with most of the population settling in Hydaburg. An old cannery was located in Hunter Bay, but little evidence remains. Many of the streams have major coho, sockeye, pink, or chum salmon runs. Black bears, wolves, and Sitka black-tailed deer are common. Quite a few small mammals, waterfowl, seabirds, and bald eagles also call this area home. Humpback whales, Steller's sea lions, and seals are often sighted, and sea otters are especially plentiful, as well as a wide variety of shellfish and other marine food sources. There are no developed trails or facilities in South Prince of Wales Wilderness, but lots of opportunities for solitude and exploration. When you visit, you'll find an exemplary southeastern Alaska Wilderness, remote and seldom visited by humans.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the South Prince of Wales Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.