Photo Credit: Haines Parks & Trails

Haines Parks & Trails

Haines has some great hiking close to town. While nearby Juneau and Skagway feature great hiking trails, the continuous summertime helicopter tour traffic can be disruptive. That’s something you won’t have to worry about in Haines. Another plus: Haines experiences less rainfall than Juneau, Ketchikan, or Sitka. Still, come prepared with rain gear, as well as sunscreen and a water bottle. Then hit the trails, which include two coastal hikes with little elevation gain, and two steep trails that access the alpine.

Coastal Hikes

By far the easiest and most popular coastal hike is the Battery Trail Hike. The trail is close to town has recently been extended all the way to the beach.

The other coastal hike is along the Seduction Point trail; the trailhead is 7 miles south of Haines in Chilkat State Park. This trail is further from town than Battery Trail, and consequently gets much less traffic. But the views are more spectacular here (just watch out for the roots along the way). While the full trail runs to Seduction Point (7 miles away), a one-hour hike from the trailhead to the first beach (Moose Meadows) is perfect for a day hike and picnic.

Alpine Hikes

The two steep trails that access the alpine are the Mt. Riley and Mt. Ripinski trails. Mt. Riley is the shorter of the two. For a longer day hike that combines seaside hiking with a journey to the alpine, you can combine the Battery Point hike and connect to the Mt. Riley trial via a little-used back trail.

Mt. Ripinski can be climbed in one day, departing from and returning to town. For a longer hike, catch a ride 7 miles out of town along the Haines Highway and climb up the 7-mile saddle. From the saddle, enjoy the alpine wildflowers, then work your way to the summit of Ripinski and soak up the view. From the summit, descend right into downtown Haines. And if you time it right, you can return to town with enough time to catch a cold brew at Haines Brewing Company!

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Haines Hiking Trails

Difficulty: Difficult

This trail — a steady climb of almost 2,000 feet in 2.5 miles from the Mud Bay trail­head to the top of Mount Riley — affords amaz­ing panoram­ic views of rivers, oceans, moun­tains, and glac­i­ers. You’ll walk through old-growth coastal for­est, sub-alpine stunt­ed trees, and bog­gy alpine muskegs, all while sur­round­ed by glacial­ly-stri­at­ed rocks. Hike up and back from the Mount Riley side, or make a big­ger trip of it, climb­ing point-to-point from the…  ...more

The park has a few camp­sites, but no out­hous­es. The dock at the park pro­vides pub­lic access to Mos­qui­to Lake, which offers great fish­ing, espe­cial­ly for cut­throat trout and Dol­ly Var­den char. The lake fills with migrat­ing ducks in the spring and fall, and trum­peter swans use the lake as a stopover on their migra­tions. Up to 80 swans have been seen at one time on the lake. In the win­ter, locals like to ice fish and cross-coun­try ski on the lake  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult

If you’re in shape and ready for a climb, this tow­er­ing yet gen­tle peak above town makes for a great hike. You’ll expe­ri­ence the dif­fer­ent ecosys­tems of a South­east Alaskan moun­tain — lush for­est, sub­alpine stunt­ed trees, alpine mead­ow, and rocky sum­mit. The weath­er can be vari­able at the top, so bring lay­ers, food, and plen­ty of water. Also bring a cam­era and binoc­u­lars, to look for the res­i­dent herd of moun­tain goats that pop­u­late these alpine…  ...more

Each Octo­ber and Novem­ber, between 3,000 and 4,000 bald eagles descend upon this 48,000-acre pre­serve cen­tered on riv­er bot­tom­lands a few miles north of Haines to feast on late runs of salmon. Eagles can be found through­out the pre­serve, how­ev­er, with an esti­mat­ed 300 to 400 of the birds in the area through­out the year.

This is a rarely vis­it­ed group of islands south of Chilkat State Park. Unpre­dictable winds, huge tides, and strong cur­rents make them a chal­leng­ing des­ti­na­tion to vis­it. Com­bined with the lack of any pub­lic trans­porta­tion, these islands remain a near-pris­tine wilder­ness left for the seri­ous boater to explore. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 7 miles

This clas­sic trail can be easy or dif­fi­cult, depend­ing on how far you go. The easy sec­tion attracts many local fam­i­lies look­ing for a nice walk to the beach, wild straw­ber­ry pick­ing, and out­stand­ing views of glac­i­ers. On this sec­tion, you’ll mean­der past giant Sit­ka Spruce trees, cross over bogs filled with skunk cab­bage, and find your­self in sun­ny open­ings filled with thim­ble­ber­ry bush­es and birch trees. It’s about a mile to the first…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

This pop­u­lar trail offers an easy jaunt out to a peb­ble beach — the first half of the mile-long path is even paved. Trav­el­ers, locals, and guide com­pa­nies all enjoy the walk so you won’t find soli­tude here unless it’s a stormy day. But hik­ing the trail is a great way to check out the for­est and enjoy the water, where you may see surf scot­ers, seals, sea lions, and hump­back whales, espe­cial­ly in May and June. So bring some binoc­u­lars and a…  ...more

Just south of the Chilkat Island is Sul­li­van Island, and at its south­ern end, you’ll find Sul­li­van Island State Marine Park. It has the same acces­si­bil­i­ty issues as the Chilkat Islands; the eas­i­est way to see these islands is to look for them as you cruise via fer­ry or cruise ship down the Lynn Canal between Haines and Juneau. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 3920 feet

Accessed either from Mount Rip­in­s­ki or from the 7 Mile Haines High­way, this climb is a thigh-burn­ing beast that will reward the fit and the will­ing with great views, extend­ed time in the alpine, bright wild­flow­ers, great blue­ber­ry and salmonber­ry pick­ing, and the chance to see moun­tain goats and bears. The short­est route is from the 7 mile trail­head, which climbs near­ly 4,000 feet in 2.5 miles! It’s steep and chal­leng­ing all the way, from…  ...more

Chilkat State Park, sev­en miles south of Haines, is less vis­it­ed than Chilkoot Lake, prob­a­bly because it’s fur­ther from town and the road is grav­el. But don’t let that stop you. The park is qui­et, it’s one of the best local areas to look for moose, and the view of the Rain­bow Glac­i­er — a hang­ing glac­i­er with a huge water­fall drop­ping from its face — is world-class. 

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