Starting at the National Park Service Visitor Center, this trail system takes you through rich coastal forest and along a salmon stream, then opens to views of the shoreline and coastal mountains. It also travels past totem poles and memorial sites, including that of the 1804 Battle of Sitka. The last armed conflict with the Tlingits in Sitka and the beginning of Russian rule, this battle is memorialized with a plaque installed in 2011. Park rangers offer guided walks from May through September, and will tell you this story as part of the “Battle Walk.” Direct descendants of the battle still live in Sitka today.
If you’re more interested in Native art, go on the Totem Walk and learn about the park’s numerous totem poles. Find out why these totems are mostly those of the Haida people, even though this is Tlingit territory. Or join a natural history walk and learn about everything from banana slugs to spruce trees. The latter two are great for kids.
Or go off on your own and explore. Trails are all easy and well-maintained; with many spurs and loops, they’re a good choice for families, joggers, and walkers at all fitness levels.
The main trail is the Totem Trail, which will lead you past 18 totem poles. A second trail follows the Indian River, where pink salmon return to spawn every July.
The new “River View” trail will offer views of the clear water stream, where you can look for bald eagles, seagulls, and bears. For an updated schedule of guided hikes, visit www.nps.gov/sitk.