Photo Credit: Carlos Rojas

Tongass Nat’l Forest Parks & Trails

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Parks & Trails

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

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.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 1500 feet

The dri­ve out to the Dude Moun­tain trail­head is one of the most scenic dri­ves that Ketchikan has to offer. The trail begins wind­ing through lush rain­for­est. The last part is steep and can be mud­dy in wet weath­er or cov­ered in snow in spring and fall.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 6 miles

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.

Sit­ka was Alaska’s first offi­cial Bike-Friend­ly Com­mu­ni­ty, and it shows. Bike lanes and racks abound. Besides 14 miles of paved roads, there are many moun­tain bik­ing trails, and even a new, sin­gle-track route of the inti­mate expe­ri­ence of rid­ing through old-growth forest.

Difficulty: Easy Elevation Gain: 450 feet

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.

Difficulty: Easy

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 moun­tains in Glac­i­er Bay, British Colum­bia, the South­east Alaskan…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 150 feet

If you are look­ing for a short­ish in-town” trail, this trail begins at the back of a neigh­bor­hood and walks up a ser­vice road to a dam that over­looks a moun­tain-lake scene.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 100 feet

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.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

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.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

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 field of iris and fire­weed, the Menden­hall ris­es between…  ...more

On one of the run-off creeks from Achilles Moun­tain or Twin Peaks Moun­tain above pours a 100-foot or more water­fall right beside Ton­gass High­way towards the end of the road

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

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.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

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  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 170 feet

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.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 2600 feet

Deer Moun­tain is Ketchikan’s icon­ic back­drop. The path briefly threads between res­i­den­tial lots, then turns to a rocky trail that quick­ly ascends. On the way up there are mul­ti­ple scenic overlooks.

Difficulty: Easy Elevation Gain: 100 feet

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.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

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.

With a 1,620 ft. ver­ti­cal drop, 640 acres, and impres­sive back­coun­try access, Eagle­crest com­bines big moun­tain ter­rain with a local feel in Alaska’s cap­i­tal city. It’s one of the few com­mu­ni­ty-owned ski areas in the US, offer­ing afford­able prices, few­er crowds, and breath­tak­ing ocean views. You can’t dri­ve to Juneau— you have to fly, or fer­ry, which means short­er lift lines and untracked pow­der. Whether you are a begin­ner look­ing to play in the  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 5 miles

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  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

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  ...more

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