Anan Creek is a unique spot because of the interaction between black and brown bears. Generally, brown bears run off the smaller black bears and the two species don’t share habitat. But at Anan Creek, most of the brown bears are adolescents, and the large, adult black bears don’t always back off. So you may spot brown and black bears fishing the same hole for pink salmon!
You’ll be dropped off at the beach, where a Ranger from the U.S. Forest Service will greet you and give you an orientation. Generally, there are three Rangers working at the Observatory, but they aren’t guides. You can hire a guiding service, but that is completely separate from the rangers. You’ll need good raingear and boots and drinking water. No food or drink other than water is permitted!
After your orientation, you’ll follow a ½ mile trail through the forest to the observatory, which is little more than a platform, a small covered area and a photo blind. Most bears are spotted from this viewing area, but you could run into bears on your hike. There is also a photo blind, which you can sign up for at the platform. 4-6 people use it at a time for ½ hour and it affords really up close access for great photos.
The observatory is open from 8am to 6pm. There is a very simple Forest Service cabin for rent on the Bay, if you want to spend more time here.
60 permits are issued per day and are required July 5-Aug 25. They are available at the trailhead, or you can call ahead of time. 907-874-2323. Know that July permits are usually all taken by the beginning of May. So it is wise to book ahead of time, or go with a guiding company, because their permits are secured in advance.
July 5-Aug 25, Shoulder season June 15-Sept 15
Floatplane or Boat