Alaska Excursions

Alaska Excursions

A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.

Iditarod 41

Photos and stories from the last great race.

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Southeast Alaska hiking

A hiker climbs Long Hill below The Scales and the summit pitch of the Golden Stairs on the American side of Chilkoot Pass. The trail from Skagway follows the route taken by Klondike gold stampeders in 1898.

Anchorage Daily News

A hiker climbs Long Hill below The Scales and the summit pitch of the Golden Stairs on the American side of Chilkoot Pass. The trail from Skagway follows the route taken by Klondike gold stampeders in 1898.

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Stretch your legs near home

Matt Szundy, a guide for The Ascending Path, leads clients from Minnesota up the north face of Mount Alyeska in Girdwood. The company offers three-hour hikes on the mountain, which in the winter is a ski mountain.

If Alaska has a metropolitan pulse, it beats in Anchorage, the state's largest city. Theater, music, culture, fine dining -- it's all here. So are strip malls, parking garages, and coffee shops that make parts of Anchorage look like Anywhere, U.S.A.

Hike this way

You don't have to go far to hit breath-taking trails.

Kenai Peninsula hiking (10-12-2005)

The fish are plentiful on the Kenai Peninsula, but getting out into the woods is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of this place.

Trails in town

Hikers take in the sunset at about  11:30 p.m. on the 2008 summer solstice atop Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park. Hiking Flattop is a solstice tradition for many in Anchorage and a way to enjoy some of the more than 19 hours of daylight.

Whether they're mild or wild, the trails of Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska have plenty to keep hikers or bicycle riders busy for an hour, a day or longer.

The long, hard race -- Iditasport Impossible

By the end, after weeks of wallowing in deep snow and battling headwinds that blew the frozen tundra bare, only four of the 20 athletes who began the 1,000-mile Iditasport Impossible race crossed the finish line in Nome.

Visit the Panhandle's gold mines, bears and alpine meadows

Here are some trails around the cities and villages of Southeast.

Juneau

Juneau has more than a hundred miles of groomed trails, ranging in difficulty from suitable for wheelchairs and strollers to strenuous.

Some of the popular trails start downtown, such as the one to the state park atop of Mount Juneau. Point Bridget State Park, north of town, attracts hikers who want to be closer to the saltwater.

Hikers should be prepared for rain and bears, so take waterproof gear and make enough noise to let the bears know you're in the neighborhood. The Forest Service sells a trail guide, "Juneau Trails," for $4 at the local office, 8465 Old Dairy Road, and at bookstores.

Other good sources of information include "Hiking in Alaska" by Dean Littlepage, "Frommer's Alaska" by Charles Wolforth and the Forest Service's Region 10 (Tongass) Web site.

• Perseverance Trail: This popular route heads off into the valleys that produced Juneau's gold, and it's the launch pad for other trails. Perseverance Trail begins at the end of Basin Road and goes about 3 miles. From it, hikers can branch off to Granite Creek or take one of two routes to Mount Juneau. The 12-mile loop of the Mount Juneau ridge trail is strenuous and can be risky if the weather closes in. Mount Juneau is 3,576 feet high.

Point Bridget Trail: 3.5 miles each way from Glacier Highway 39 miles north of Juneau. It's a relatively easy path in Point Bridget State Park. At the end of the trail is the Blue Mussel Cabin, a short hop from the beach, where visitors sometimes see sea lions and whales. Branching off from the trail is the Cedar Lake Trail, which runs about 4 miles from Cowee Meadows Cabin to the Glacier Highway by Bridget Cove. To reserve a cabin, click here.

• Mount Roberts Trail: You could take the tramway partway up this trail or you could walk all the way. The Mount Roberts Trail starts at the end of Sixth Street, where a staircase heads uphill. The tram drops off passengers along the trail at the 1,700-foot level. Mount Roberts is 3,819 feet high.

• Mendenhall Wetlands Trail: This trail is close to the airport north of town. It's wheelchair-accessible. Hikers get a good look at resident birds and nesting waterfowl.

• Mendenhall Glacier Visitors Center trails: Several trails start in one place: the East and West Glacier trails, Nugget Creek Trail, Moraine Ecology Trail and the wheelchair-accessible Photo Point Trail.

• Kaxdegoowu Heen Dei Trail: This wheelchair-accessible trail runs along the Mendenhall River greenbelt off the Glacier Highway.

• Herbert Glacier Trail. From Mile 27 of the Glacier Highway north of Juneau, the trail goes 4 miles on a maintained trail plus another mile of scrambling over the moraine to reach the source of the Herbert River.

Here are several trails on Douglas Island, across Gastineau Channel from Juneau:

• Moller Cabin Trail, 3 miles each way on Douglas Island. It's a moderately strenuous hike to a public-use cabin operated by the Forest Service in Tongass National Forest.

• Treadwell Ditch Trail: 12 miles starting at Eaglecrest Ski Road.

• Treadwell Mine Historic Trail starts at the end of St. Anne's Avenue in Douglas. Memorabilia from the mine, which closed in 1922, may be found along the way. The Juneau-Douglas Museum has a guide, prepared by the Taku Conservation Society, to the site.

• Auke Nu Trail: This trail originates near the Auke Bay Post Office north of Juneau and goes through the Tongass National Forest to branch off toward Spaulding Meadows and the John Muir Cabin, making a pair of 3-mile hikes. The cabin was built in 1980. In winter, this is a ski area.

Check with the Forest Service for information about Juneau-area campgrounds and cabins.

Ketchikan

• Connell Lake Trail: 2 miles along the shore of Connell Lake in berry country. The trail head is at the dam parking lot.

• Naha Trailhead Picnic Area: 1 mile. This loop trail to Roosevelt Lagoon has a lot of black bears, which fish in the stream near the picnic shelters but occasionally take picnickers' lunches.

• Swan Lake Trail: 2 miles. This easy hike goes to Swan Lake and the Swan Lake Picnic Area in upper Carroll Inlet. There is a dock at the trail head. Hikers must check in with Ketchikan Public Utilities caretaker at Swan Lake before beginning their hike. A phone at the trail head is provided for this purpose.

• Perseverance Trail: 2.3 miles to Perseverance Lake. The trail head is an 8-mile drive from Ketchikan, across the road from the Ward Lake Recreation Area and near the entrance to the 3 C's Campground. There includes lake fishing, berry picking and camping.

Check with the Forest Service for information about other Ketchikan-area trails, cabins and campgrounds.

Sitka

• Halibut Point State Recreation Site Trail: 0.5 miles. The easy gravel trail begins at a footbridge that crosses Granite Creek and goes through a forest of Sitka spruce and western hemlock. It forms a loop with spur trails to the beach and picnic shelter.

• Indian River Trail: 5.5 miles. The trail begins west of the pumphouse and dam at the end of Indian River Road and goes to Indian River Falls. Brown bears may be in the area, and in the late summer and early fall there are salmon runs (but fishing isn't allowed).

• Mount Verstovia Trail: 2.5 miles. This state trail begins about two miles east of Sitka along Sawmill Creek Road near Rookies Bar and Grill. It ends near the summit of Mount Verstovia with an elevation gain of 2,550 feet and a 3,300-foot gain if one goes on to Arrowhead Peak.

• Harbor Mountain-Gavan Hill Trail. 6 miles total. The Harbor Mountain Trail starts on a the steep, windy Harbor Mountain Road and connects in the hills with the Gavan Hill Trail, which starts on Baranof Street in Sitka. Watch for brown bears. Near the summit, there are ruins of a World War II lookout.

Check with the Forest Service for information about other Sitka-area trails, cabins and campgrounds.

Haines

Look for the "Haines Is for Hikers" booklet and the "Birds of the Chilkat Valley" checklist at the visitors center on Second Street. Trails around Haines are maintained by volunteers and by the Alaska State Parks division of the Department of Natural Resources. Here are some of the trails.

• Mount Ripinsky Trail: 3.5 hard miles to a 3,610-foot summit. This route may be combined with the 7-mile Saddle Route for a 10-mile hike that's moderately strenuous to strenuous.

• Mount Riley: Up to 7 miles of moderate difficulty. The trip may take most of a day. There are a couple of trail heads in Chilkat State Park on the Chilkat Peninsula. One is 3 miles out on Mud Bay Road, and the other is at the end of Beach Road.

• Seduction Point Trail: 7 miles each way in the forest and on the beach in Chilkat State Park, but shorter hikes can stop in coves along the way. The trail head is at the information station in the campground.

Skagway

• Chilkoot Trail: 33 hard miles should take 3 to 4 days from Skagway to Bennett Lake, British Columbia. The route follows the one taken by stampeders over the mountains starting in 1897 as they headed to the Klondike gold fields in Yukon Territory. There are snowfields all summer and boulders to contend with in some spots. Hikers may camp only in designated areas and should watch out for bears and bad weather.

Craig and Prince of Wales Island

• El Capitan Cave Access Trail: 0.25 mile. This trail climbs 300 feet from the parking lot to the cave entrance on gravel, boardwalk, wood stairs and earth. Visitors may go about 200 feet into the cave before reaching a gate; the Thorne Bay District of the Forest Service conducts guided tours during the summer. Check with the ranger at the Thorne Bay office, 1312 Federal Way; 907-828-3304.

• Karta River Trail: 4.8 miles from mouth of Karta River at Karta Bay to Salmon Lake Cabin in the Karta Wilderness Area. The Karta River has a tremendous run of silver, pink, chum and red salmon, as well as populations of Dolly Varden, cutthroat trout and steelhead.

Check with the Forest Service for information about other Prince of Wales Island trails, cabins and campgrounds.

Gustavus and Glacier Bay National Park

• Beaches. Gustavus' Long, flat beaches and wetlands invite hiking, but bring rubber boots. In Glacier Bay National Park, hikers won't find backcountry trails, but good hiking may be found on beaches, in alpine meadows and in areas where glaciers recently retreated. Permits are required for backcountry camping. Hikers may be dropped off by the National Park Service's concessionaire or by private companies' boats and aircraft.

Check with the Park Service for more information about hiking and camping in Glacier Bay.

Yakutat

There are trails and logging roads into Tongass National Forest.

• Malaspina Glacier Trail: 46 miles south of Malaspina Glacier along the western side of Yakutat Bay. The trail, built by geologists as long ago as the 1890s, starts on the western bank of the Grand Wash River and heads southwest, eventually reaching Osar Stream and tidewater pools at its mouth.

• Trails to Situk Lake Cabin: One trail is 6 miles on an unmaintained and often water-covered trail from near the Nine Mile Bridge on Forest Highway 10. The trail, also wet, is 3 miles long and starts at the end of Eastgate Road. The cabin is inside the Russell Fiord Wilderness Area.

Check with the National Park Service and the Forest Service for information about camping, cabins and hiking in the area around Yakutat, Glacier Bay National Park and Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

Wrangell

• Rainbow Falls and Institute Creek Trail. These Wrangell Island trails both begin at the Rainbow Falls trail head, 4.5 miles south of Wrangell next to the Zimovia Highway. Rainbow Falls: A moderate-to-difficult 0.7-mile trail leads to observations sites. At Mile 0.6, there's a junction with the difficult Institute Creek Trail, with goes 2.7 miles farther to the Shoemaker Bay Overlook Shelter.

Check with the Forest Service for information other Wrangell-area trails.

Petersburg

• Petersburg Lake Trail: 10 miles each way. Hikers take a water taxi across Wrangell Narrows to the Petersburg Creek-Duncan Salt Chuck Wilderness.

• Petersburg Mountain Trail: 3.5 miles each way. The trail starts at the Kupreanof state dock just across the Wrangell Narrows from Petersburg. The mountain trail goes east; the Petersburg Lake Trail heads west from the dock. The trail is rated "most difficult" by the Forest Service. After 1.5 miles along an old road bed, the trail turns left and heads up the mountain. Above the saddle, blue trail markers show the way to the peak; an anchored cable helps climbers to the summit.

Check with the Forest Service for information other Petersburg-area trails.

Angoon

Most trails on Admiralty Island are used for canoe portages, and there are no maintained long trails. Nevertheless, hikers can walk along the shore and climb 2,000 feet to the treeless alpine area, above the dense rain forest.

Tenakee Springs

Trails run for 3 and 5 miles from the ends of this seaside town's street, and another 10 or so miles of paths along the shore. Also, a logging road heads inland.

Hoonah

There are trails and logging roads in Tongass National Forest.

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