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.
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.
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!
Haines Hiking Trails
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.