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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 trail along Hamilton Creek is busiest around 5 in the morning, as savvy anglers know that’s when the fish are biting! The trail is about 2 miles round-trip, but you can follow the creek for miles, fishing and picnicking along the way. You will be sharing the experience with bears, so secure your snacks, and any fish you catch.
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.
2.2 miles from Bailey Bay to Lake Shelokum Shelter. Access to Bailey Bay Hot Springs-one of the most scenic areas you will ever experience! The trail is challenging. A landslide has buried the trail in one place. Expect to scramble over rocks on a steep sidehill in this area. Mooring buoy located at trailhead.
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...
Two lefts past the Alaska Marine Highway Juneau Terminus is the road to Auke Bay Recreational Area. Inside, you’ll find Point Louisa, a traditional fishing ground for the Auke people (a subgroup of Southeast Alaska’s First People, the Tlingit). Point Louisa is a good fishing spot with good water views, covered picnic areas, and gently sloping gravel beach make it a family favorite.
This trail provides access to two good trout fishing spots and is accessible by boat or float plane. Many of the boardwalk bridges have collapsed and are not safe to use. The trail is wet and muddy. Alongside the trail is a shelter in poor condition. Bears are often seen on this route, so keep your eyes open!
A side trail from Perseverance that breaks off 2 miles into the hike, this trail is generally muddy because of the beautiful waterfalls and snow that resides on the mountains until early summer. (And there’s extreme avalanche danger in winter.) But it’s a great day hike, and if you keep to the left you can access the alpine high country of Mount Juneau. There are More...
The Karta River Trail travels 5 miles from the mouth of the Karta River at Karta Bay to Salmon Lake Cabin. It provides exciting and challenging access to wilderness resources, including free-flowing rivers, forests and opportunities for solitude. Also, Karta Falls and Karta Bay Trails extend from the Karta River Trail. At Salmon Lake Cabin, more adventurous hikers may follow the 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 trail was built to provide access to the John Muir Cabin. The trail is extremely muddy in summer and rubber boots are recommended then, but it is a great snowshoe and ski trail in winter. There are many huckleberries and blueberries alongside the trail and most of the trail has been planked or has small bridges to protect the undergrowth. The cabin is open to the public between More...
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...
The West Glacier trailhead cannot be reached from the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. To access this trail, take Mendenhall Loop Road to Montana Creek Road and follow the signs to Mendenhall Campground. This is the trail you want to take if you're looking to see a real Alaskan glacier. The view at the top affords incredible views of what seems to be an ocean of ice that is 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 big climb: you’ll gain 2,550 feet en route to the summit. And you can continue along an alpine ridge to the next summit (about one hour), Arrowhead, which sits at 3,300 feet! If you make it to these peaks, you’ll be rewarded with big views and a beautiful alpine environment. And the trail can be accessed via public transport.