In the 1980s Thorne Bay (pop. 500; www.thornebayalaska.net) was a booming logging town, home to the world’s largest logging camp. The mill is long closed, and most of the logging is gone, forcing locals to shift to fishing and tourism to survive. Thorne Bay isn’t the most beautiful place, but it does have all the basics, including a grocery store, gas, lodging, a large and underpopulated school, and a Forest Service district office (907/828-3304, www.fs.fed.us/r10/tongass).
McFarland’s Floatel B&B (907/828-3335 or 888/828-3335, www.mcfarlandsfloatel.com, Apr.–Oct.) has modern two-bedroom log cabins ($295) that sleep four. There are no TVs or phones, but the units do include full kitchens, baths, and Wi-Fi. Car and skiff rentals are also available.
Right in town, Welcome Inn B&B (907/828-3950, www.lodginginnalaska.com, $85 s, $115 d) has three guest rooms and full breakfasts. Two businesses offer fishing packages that include lodging, a vehicle, and your own skiff: Adventure Alaska Southeast (907/828-3907 or 877/499-3474, www.fishorhunt.com) and The Landing at Otter Cove (907/247-3528 or 888/424-5445, www.thelandingatottercove.com).
Boardwalk Lodge (907/828-3918 or 800/764-3918, www.boardwalklodge.com) is a luxurious fishing lodge near Thorne Bay, with access by boat or air.
Ten miles north of town on Forest Highway 30 is Sandy Beach Picnic Area, an attractive sandy beach (rare in Southeast Alaska) where you can pitch a tent. The road is narrow and slippery after a rain.
There are no restaurants in Thorne Bay, but Port’s Tackle Shop (907/828-3994) serves hot dogs and espresso, or head to Thorne Bay Market (907/828-3306) for groceries. Amazingly, Thorne Bay lacks a bar, although you can purchase alcohol from Riptide Liquor Store (907/828-3353).
Hydaburg (pop. 400), 42 miles south of Craig, is the largest Haida settlement in Alaska. The Haida Indians are relative newcomers to the state, arriving in this Tlingit land around 1700. Originally from Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands, the Haida were given parts of POW in compensation for the accidental killing of a Haida chief by the Tlingits. Hydaburg was established in 1911 when three nearby Haida villages combined into one.
Hydaburg has the prettiest setting on POW, situated along scenic Sukkwan Strait. Most of the houses, however, are very plain Bureau of Indian Affairs–style boxes. The newly paved road to Hydaburg was only completed in 1983, opening the town to the outside world. In town is a nice row of totems restored by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, along with a newer one erected in 1991. For food, head to AC Haida Market (907/285-3311, daily 10 a.m.–7 p.m.). Ask locally for rooms to rent.
The Tlingit village of Kasaan (pop. 50) is a rough 16-mile drive off the main road between Klawock and Thorne Bay. This is a wonderful out-of-the-way settlement, and just a 15-minute walk from the community hall are a beautiful clan house and a number of totem poles set in the woods.
The poles were mostly carved in the 1930s and 1940s, and the clan house belonged to Chief Son-i-hat, who is buried nearby. (Try to ignore the logging that has been allowed almost right up to the graves.) Older totems are in the abandoned village of Old Kasaan, accessible only by boat.
Logging and Fishing Villages
Several tiny communities (mostly former logging camps) are along the road network on the north end of POW Island.
The little settlement of Coffman Cove (pop. 200) is 53 miles north of Klawock. Visitors will find a general store (The Riggin Shack, 907/329-2213) with groceries, gas, and other essentials. Coffman Cove boasts several lodging options, all on the Web at www.coffmancovealaska.com. They include Coffman Cove Cabins (907/329-2251) with cute cabins ($40 pp), and Oceanview RV Park & Campground (907/329-2032, tents $20, RVs $30), which has beach-front campsites, a coin laundry, and showers.
Sixty-five miles north of Klawock is Whale Pass (pop. 60), with a general store and gas. Find lodging at Northend Cabin (907/846-5315) and Bear Valley Lodge (907/247-8512 or 800/936-9600, www.bearvalleylodgealaska.com).
On the far northern end of POW are a couple of minuscule fishing/retirement villages. A long boardwalk connects the homes of Port Protection (pop. 50), where Wooden Wheel Cove Lodge (907/489-2288 or 888/489-9288, www.woodenwheellodge.com) has fishing-lodge accommodations with a three-night minimum. Point Baker (pop. 50) is home to a small general store and the nation’s only floating post office.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition