Photo Credit: Haines Parks & Trails

Haines Parks & Trails

Haines offers scenic 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, bear spray and a water bottle. Then hit the trails, which include several mostly flat coastal hikes, and two steep trails that access alpine tundra.

Coastal Hikes

This trail, popular for shore excursions off cruise ships, offers the smoothest, flattest trail into the woods around Haines. It leads to two spots ideal for a rest, picnic or a dip on a hot day.

By far the easiest and most popular coastal hike is the Battery Point Trail. Starting about a mile south of Fort Seward at the end of Beach Road, this recently rebuilt, rolling trail straddles an old-growth hillside and after a mile delivers hikers to Kelgaya Point, a wide, stony beach with views north toward Haines and Skagway. Dall’s porpoises often are seen here. If you hear a bell ringing, that’s a navigational buoy across the inlet, warning mariners of shallow water offhshore Katzehin Flats. Crossing the stream there and hiking south into the woods leads another .7 miles to Battery Point and a south-facing cove perfect for beachcombing. Good stuff that falls off fishing boats sometimes washes ashore here.

Alpine Hikes

A favorite of local families and casual hikers, this gradual trail is rarely steep and, from its summit, offers a great overview of local geography, including the upper Chilkat Valley and branches of Chilkoot Inlet, the fjord extending into Lutak Inlet and to Skaway.

At 1,760 feet, Riley is the shorter of the two. This wooded, winding climb starts on a flat, muddy trail at 2 Mile Mud Bay Road on a hilltop just south of Carr’s Cove. At the summit, hikers enjoy expansive views of Chilkoot and Chilkat inlets. Be patient. It’s a gradual, winding trail with several false summits along the way. For a longer day hike that combines seaside hiking with a journey to the alpine, combine the Battery Point hike and connect to the Mount Riley trial via a little-used back trail.

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Haines Hiking Trails

Haines offers great bik­ing, both along moun­tain bike trails and road­side bike lanes. Its road sys­tem deserved­ly serves as the final two legs of the annu­al Klu­ane-Chilkat Inter­na­tion­al Bicy­cle Relay, a 160-mile, all-day race from Haines Junc­tion, Y.T.

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

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

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.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 7 miles

This sev­en-mile coastal trail can be a rugged scram­ble over beach rocks at times, but it rewards hik­ers with a sun-bathed ori­en­ta­tion and oppor­tu­ni­ties to see moose, bears and some­times whales, some­times at close range.

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

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

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. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 13 miles

This trip requires some logis­tics, includ­ing rent­ing bikes and arrang­ing for a lift to Cana­di­an bor­der, but it’s worth it. The wall of moun­tains to the west pro­vides a stag­ger­ing vista and you can see wildlife to boot.

For decades just a wide spot in the road, this new, pock­et park cap­tures the most emblem­at­ic scene in Haines, the state­ly build­ings of his­toric Fort Seward against the relief of the tow­er­ing Chilkat Peaks. 

Distance: 1 mile

Built to take eagle pho­tog­ra­phers out of harm’s way along the Haines High­way, this 1.5- mile trail includes look­outs and inter­pre­tive pan­els about the adja­cent Bald Eagle Coun­cil Grounds, where thou­sands of eagles gath­er each year. Warm upwellings of riv­er water keep sec­tions ice-free, pro­vid­ing birds with an impor­tant meal.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

Some would rather avoid it, but climb­ing to the top of Fort Seward puts cyclists in range of the town’s pret­ti­est beach­es – along Chilkat Inlet. You won’t regret the extra work required.

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

This trail through an urban for­est offers a close view of a muskeg, a swampy wet­land crit­i­cal to the health of rain­for­est rivers and fish­eries. It’s flat and easy, with long sec­tions of board­walk, plus park benches. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

Until the ear­ly 1970s, Fort Seward and down­town Haines were sep­a­rate cities, with not much in between. This route allows rid­ers to much of what the town has to offer in an after­noon, capped with drinks at a craft dis­tillery and brewery. 

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. 

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

A site of his­toric sawmills and a now-closed road, nature has reclaimed this for­mer indus­tri­al site, which has become one of the town’s most attrac­tive and tucked-away trails. It’s less than a mile from town, but is seclud­ed and can be thick with wildlife.

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