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.
The trail winds through the lush rain-forest and climbs above the creek that flows steeply below, where you can hear and see the whitewater. Occasionally, you can glimpse Brown Mountain through the trees on the right. Along the way, three short spurs lead to decks perched on the creek. Here people can fish, or just watch the river, or sometimes watch black bears catching salmon in the late summer and early fall. The trail skirts besides a couple of muskeg fields on the left where one can see a mountain ridge. Just after crossing a bridge and ascending a small hill, a rock wall on the left of the trail would sometimes glimmer in the sun. Upon a closer look, someone had gently wedged in pennies, quarters, nickels, and dimes randomly throughout the face, our own cliff version of a wishing well.
Outhouses are available at the Ward Lake parking lot, the trailhead-2 parking lot, which is about two miles away from the Ward Lake parking lot, and at the Last Chance campground, which is just another half-mile from trailhead 2. Occasional backless, trail-side benches are available, where one can rest or just meditate on the river below. For extended walking, this trail connects to the Pipeline, Salvage, and Ward Lake trails. This is a great trail for a run or a weekend-afternoon walk with your loved one. Easy to walk side-by-side, hold hands, and talk, or to just walk in comfortable silence together and listen to the river’s ceaseless babbling about its short but lively journey from lake to ocean shore.
*Trail description written by Teague Whalen, owner and operator of Mindfulness Rainforest Treks. Join him for a guided hike on Coast Guard Beach when you’re in Ketchikan.