This is a popular weekend hike if you want to spend two-to-four hours in the Tongass National Forest and is only about 15-20 minutes north of town. Though you gain elevation on the hike up to the lake, it is not unforgivingly steep. Perseverance Lake is one of Ketchikan’s picturesque mountain-lake scenes.
The lake and glacier are the premier destination for the thousands of cruise-ship tourists who visit Juneau, but they don't venture much beyond the visitor center and the short trails just outside it, leaving the mountains above the center very quiet in comparison.
The one-mile gravel trail to Coast Guard Beach winds through Ketchikan Gateway Borough land and then crosses into Alaska Mental Health Trust Land. Mostly the trail descends to the beach; however, a few hills do rise along the way. This beach is a good place for walking, sunbathing, beachcombing, photography, writing, reading, meditation, tai-chi, just sitting, marine-life viewing, and dog swimming.
Close to town on moderate terrain, this trail is a popular destination for locals and travelers and is used for everything from family walks to trail runs. The trail follows the turquoise blue Indian River up through the valley to a waterfall. This riverside terrain makes it a good place to look for birds and other wildlife like deer. In late summer, the river fills with salmon (though fishing is prohibited). The bears have their own trail on the other side of the river, so it’s rare to encounter one.
Eaglecrest is one of the few community-owned ski areas in the US—and the only one that can boast of being on an island, which gives it the unique perk of having ski slopes with ocean views. Whether you are a beginner looking to play in the snow, or a longtime skier or boarder, Eaglecrest makes a great all-ages winter playground. In summer, enjoy hiking, mountain biking, and berry picking.
Located in the Tongass National Forest, Ward Creek is wide enough to drive a truck down, though no vehicles are permitted, and is popular with the locals for walking dogs. Across the road from the Ward Lake Recreation Area parking lot, trailhead 1 takes you north and follows Ward Creek, which flows out of Connell Lake, by the Last Chance campground, and through Ward Lake to eventually meet the ocean in Ward Cove.
The mostly-flat Ward Lake trail follows the circumference of the lake’s shore in a swath of gravel that is wide enough for two people to walk abreast. Ward Lake is tucked into the edge of the Tongass National Forest boundary. Its proximity to town makes the recreation area popular with the locals.
This is a wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Hwy. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic. The trail is 2-miles long, paved, and provides one of the great views of Mendenhall Glacier, beginning at the Brotherhood Bridge trailhead. In mid-summer, over a flat More...
Located in Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge, this trail is wheelchair-accessible and close to the airport. It has many opportunities for waterfowl and bird watching. It is excellently maintained. This makes the trail a very easy hike. Many times you will see strollers, runners and bikers on this trail because it is paved.
If you want to get away and don’t have a boat or a plane, this is as far away north one can easily get from Ketchikan. The trail ends at the headwaters of Lunch Creek—the shores of Lake Emery Tobin, which is surrounded by a rim of steep mountainsides often capped with snow ridges and peaks.
The path to the Perseverance trailhead, Basin Road, showcases a dramatic change from urban to wilderness, leading from downtown Juneau to a spectacular canyon. At the end of it is where Perseverance Trail begins, and this former rail line (named for the mine it once serviced) quickly climbs up above the Gold Creek valley. There’s plenty to see along the way, including old mine shafts that blow cool winds, and a stretch of trail where the mountain drops steeply away to Gold Creek.
Connell Lake is a good choice if you want a trail that is less popular but just as close to town as the Perseverance trail. The rocky, dirt path gently climbs through the rainforest canopy and hugs the shoreline of the lake. On the other side is a nice flat area that the creek bows around, creating a small peninsula. A fire-pit indicates that this is a preferred spot to spend some time or camp.
Leaving from the end of Tongass Highway, enter the Lunch Creek Trail and very soon take the trail to the left as this steps you quickly down to a waterfall viewing platform and then the rest of the way down to where, to the right, you can also cross the Lunch Creek bridge, which provides waterfall views as well as the ocean where the creek flows into.
Running just above and parallel to Ketchikan’s Third Avenue Bypass, Rainbird Trail is perfect if you only have a couple hours but still want to experience a small piece of Southeast Alaska’s rainforest. The trailhead is only 20 minutes from downtown (a short drive relative to most other trails), and the trail’s southern end—just beyond the top of the metal stairs—offers great views of downtown Ketchikan, the Tongass Narrows, and the neighboring islands beyond.
Refuge Cove State Recreation Site is a sliver of land lining part of an edge of a neighborhood and is a popular beach picnicking destination with the locals. The site comes complete with pit toilets, sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables with fire grates, and a quarter-mile trail accompanied by interpretive signs that address the local natural history.
This is a beautiful hike in June and July, when the alpine wildflowers are at their peak. But it’s a beautiful hike anytime, because the views from up top—facing Mount Edgecumbe and overlooking Sitka Sound—are awesome. There are two ways up this mountain: a big climb or a big drive.
Settlers Cove State Recreation Site offers two of the best sandy beaches to be found in the Ketchikan area and provides pit toilets and sheltered and unsheltered picnic tables with fire grates. A campground with eight campsites is available as well and one public-use cabin on the water that can be rented.
Once you reach the Mountain House at the 1,800-foot level of Mount Roberts, step onto trails that begin in a sub-alpine ecosystem and climb another 300 feet into the true alpine. With sixty stair steps, a length of one-half mile and an elevation gain of just 150ft, the main trail will take you to open vistas, mountain valleys, snow gullies, rocky ridges and stunning views of More...
If you’re here on a sunny day, you know this peak—it’s the dominant, gentle volcano that fills the view to the west. And intrepid hikers can walk all the way to the top. The trail is about 10 miles west of Sitka and is only accessible by boat, so you’ll have to charter a boat and be comfortable with wilderness hiking.
This trail can only be accessed by boat or float plane. It has slippery planking and muddy and brushy sections. Part of this is due to the spectacular waterfall. It is difficult to follow this trail through the muskegs but a great place to see bears. The lower part of the trail follows an abandoned mining tramway. There are the remains of some old mining machinary and structures. More...
Big John Bay trail is the furthest hike out from Kake, in a remote area right on tidal and saltwater flats. After a drive of 16 miles and a hike of about 2.1 miles, you’ll come to Big John Bay cabin, which can be reserved for the night through the U.S. Forest Service. Getting there requires strict attention to tide tables, as the 15-foot variation in tide restricts trail and cabin access.
This is an excellent trail for black & brown bear, harbor seal, bald eagle, various gull viewing (July - Aug.) It is also a great spot for the fishing of Steelhead (April - May), cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden, pink salmon (July - Aug). June 15 through September 15 is the only time there is access for fishing and fishing is only permitted from shore at trailhead. Along this More...
A short boat ride to George Island brings chances to see whales and marine life along the way, followed by invertebrates at low tide and a lovely walk through a beautiful temperate rainforest to an historic site that still has gun emplacements left over from World War II.
This trail was named for a local forester and is an undeveloped route. There are many flowers and blueberries as well as salmonberries along the trail. The trail begins with a moderate grade butsteepens quickly and becomes wet with no switchbacks. The trail disappears above the timberling, but you can continue on to Carin Peak if you wish to do so. Waterproof hiking boots are More...
Harbor Mountain Trailhead can take you to the summit of Harbor Mountain, but you have to drive up to 1,800 feet. This road was originally built during World War II to provide access for military installations. Be careful: the road is in decent shape, but it’s narrow. From the trailhead/parking area, the trail follows a ridge with great views in all directions. It’s had More...
This is a short trail approximately 250 feet in length. The trail leads to a viewing deck which provides excellent views of the mouth of Cavern Lake Cave and the stream gushing from the cavern. Visitors are not to enter the cave, as conditions within the cavern are considered very hazardous.
This trail was named after John Lemon, one of the first prospectors to cross the Chilkoot Trail. It is recommended that you wear water boots and long-sleeved shirts because of the mud and overgrown brush. There are many berries and, therefore black bears in this area.
The Mill Creek Trail connects the saltwatery mouth of Mill Creek to the Virginia Lake outlet. It provides portage opportunities for small watercrafts. The trail surface ranges from unimproved old roadbed to mostly gravel, to about 750 feet of boardwalk near the end. The trail passes the remnants of an old sawmill and an active fish ladder at the very beginning.
Note that it More...
Beyond the Rainbow Falls Trail is the Institute Creek Trail. This trail leads you to a shelter that overlooks Shoemaker Bay. Traveling further along the trail, you'll climb up into higher country reaching more shelters. This part of the trail is almost entirely surfaced with stairs, log steps, and a boardwalk. Be careful as all the More...
As you approach the south side of Herbert River, there’s a turnoff that ends at the Windfall Lake trailhead. The trail, some of which is planked, follows the Herbert River through the forest. A spur trail once led to Herbert Glacier, but because of beaver damming it is no longer accessible during the summer. However, you can ski to Herbert Glacer via this trail in winter. This More...
The Auke Lake Trail was originally built to access the John Muir Cabin. It also provides access to Spaulding Meadows, an excellent place for Nordic skiing during the winter. The trail provides views of the Chilkat Mountains, Admiralty Island, Gastineau Channel, and Mts. Stroller White and McGinnis. The trail also offers plenty of birding opportunities, especially now that a recent More...
Hike through forested paths along the shoreline east or west of Tenakee Springs. Heading west brings you to many beautiful little bays. Going east leads you over a picturesque suspension bridge, then to Cannery Point and Coffee Cove. Eventually you’ll find one of the old logging roads, which could lead you all the way to Hoonah!
A premier lake fishery south of Wrangell, the Thoms Lake Trail is a long, 2-foot wide gravel trail that provides access from the road system on Wrangell Island to Thom's Lake. A State-owned public recreation cabin is located on the shore of the lake, approximately half a mile from the trail's end along an unmaintained path.
Long Lake Trail is a quick day trip to a forested lake. The trail is entirely surfaced by boardwalks and bridges so you won't even have to touch the ground of wet meadows. At the lake, there is a shelter and a rowboat. The skinny, mile-long lake is a perfect spot for trout fishing.
Distance: 0.6 miles
This is one of the prettiest trails for a visitor who’s not a big hiker. It’s an interpretive trail with a self-guided brochure, and you’ll travel through prime examples of the dominant forest ecosystems in the area: forest and muskeg. Learn about these ecologies while walking a gently sloping trail of gravel and boardwalk.
One of the best ways to enjoy More...
This is the only trail that ATVers can ride that is accessible by road. Much of the trail is actually an old logging road and crosses many bridges. Riders are asked to stay out of streambeds so that salmon can spawn. This trail is easy for hikers and ATVs but moderate for bikers.