If you are a lover of alpine, stunning views, and longer, more challenging hikes, then this all-day, one-way mountain traverse between Carlanna Lake and Perseverance Lake is the perfect choice.
The Minerva Mountain Trail begins at the end of one of two trails that it connects: either 2.5 miles in at the end of the Perseverance Lake Trail at Perseverance Lake or 1.5 miles in at the end of the Carlanna Lake Trail. However, if one is hiking the whole traverse, the first thing you need to do is drop a car at either the Perseverance Lake or Carlanna Lake trailhead and then drive back and start the hike from the other trailhead. From the Carlanna Lake Trail, pick up the Minerva Mountain Trail about an hour in when you cross the creek just below the Avalanche Chute, which drains into Carlanna Lake. Here, begin the new and improved trail that was carved out of the forested hillside and filled with crushed gravel and nicely planted flathead rocks in order to hike up and across the side of Minerva Mountain. Eventually, a nice waterfall and pool that overlooks the valley provides a good rest stop for refilling water bottles.
In another twenty to thirty minutes, the trail pops out of the forest into a giant rock-slab slope dotted with clumps of vegetation. Here, keep an eye out for the orange diamond markers and then cairns higher up that mark the path to the gap between Minverva and Juno Mountains. Once the treeless ridge is gained, the other side drops off 1500 feet or so into Perseverance Lake, which drains into Connell Lake. And off to the north, a horizon of distant mountains. To the right continues Minerva Mountain, and the Diane Mountain ridge boxes in the right side of Perseverance Lake. Turning around and looking back down the slope one will find views of the Tongass Narrows, Annette Island, Gravina Island, and Prince of Wales Island. To the right and heading north is the trail, now a dirt path through low vegetation that continues to step up to summit Juno Mountain and then quickly dips down into a saddle between Juno and Ward Mountains. On the far side of the saddle is a lovely place for lunch tucked in just below Ward Mountain with views of the Tongass Narrows and accompanying islands.
After lunch, make sure to follow the orange trailblazers, as one can easily end up off the trail, and descend down a rock-slab lane. Here on the shoulder of Ward Mountain, continue to switchback through a high alpine muskeg for a while and enjoy the great mountain and ocean views that stretch to the north. Eventually, the muskeg trail ends at a lengthy boardwalk that steps down a ridge of cedar and spruce all the way to Perseverance Lake. Once the shores of the lake are reached, follow the Perseverance Lake trail out the 2.5 miles to Ward Lake and your parked car. Don’t forget to drive back around the mountain ridge to the town side where you’ll need to pick up the other car at the Carlanna Lake trailhead, which is right in town where food and drink is available to replenish your stores as you relive the day’s adventures.
Distance: One-way traverse 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2600 feet