Trails & Hiking

Coast Guard Beach Trail

  • Length: 1 mile/ 1.6 km (one way), 45 min. (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: The trail begins at an elevation of 170 feet / 52 m and terminates at sea level.
  • Rating: Easy
Access: From Ketchikan, follow the North Tongass Highway 14.5 miles to North Point Higgins Road. Turn left and follow about 1 mile to Point Higgins Elementary School on the left. The trailhead is located at the south end of the parking lot behind the school.

Description: The trail begins at the parking lot and enters a large, open muskeg winding among scattered yellow-cedar and shore pine trees. The trail skirts the muskeg on fairly level terrain until it enters a thick forest of western redcedar and western hemlock and begins its descent toward the beach. The last quarter mile of trail meanders through the rolling forest along the coastline. The tread is mostly gravel with some log steps on steep slopes and wooden bridges over drainages. The section of trail near the beach has several short, steep inclines.

Attractions: Coast Guard Beach provides a unique experience along Ketchikan’s road system as it is accessible only by trail. The trail offers a delightful hiking experience through a diversity of environments, from the miniature gardens in a blossoming muskeg to the deep forest of western redcedar and western hemlock. Tantalizing glimpses of Tongass Narrows draw hikers toward their destination, a broad sandy beach with spectacular views of Guard, Gravina and Prince of Wales Islands. Hikers are rewarded with a lovely secluded setting for swimming, sun-bathing, beach combing and whale-watching.v

Frog Pond Trail

  • Length: .5 miles /.8 km (one way), 30 minutes (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet / 30 m
  • Rating: Easy
Access: Follow the North Tongass Highway 5.5 miles from Ketchikan to Ward Lake Road. Turn right on Ward Lake Road and follow 0.5 miles to the dead end. The trailhead is located at the parking area at the end of Ward Lake Road.

Description: Frog Pond trail begins at the end of the Ward Lake Road near two small ponds and continues 0.5 miles to the Signal Creek Campground in the Ward Lake Recreation Area. The trail is flat, with gravel tread and follows the path of the original access road to Ward Lake.

Attractions: This trail offers non-motorized access to the Ward Lake Recreation Area from the North Tongass Highway for hikers and bikers. For those who are headed to Ward Lake from Ketchikan without a vehicle (for example, by bus), Frog Pond Trail offers a quick shortcut to and from the North Tongass Highway compared to the Revilla Road access.

Lunch Creek Trail

  • Length: 4.8 miles/ 7.7 km (one way), 4 hours (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,300 feet / 396 m
  • Rating: More Difficult
Access: Follow the North Tongass Highway 18 miles north of Ketchikan to the end of the road, just past the turn off for Settlers Cove State Recreation Site. Parking is located at the end of the road, along the perimeter of the turnaround.

Description: The trail begins at the terminus of the North Tongass Highway. Soon after starting out, before the trail begins to parallel Lunch Creek, there is a trail junction. By following the trail on the left, you will tie into the Lunch Falls Trail (p.36) that originates in Settlers Cove State Recreation Site. By staying to the right, you will continue on the Lunch Creek Trail. The first 2.2 miles of Lunch Creek Trail has wide gravel tread that winds through stands of western redcedar and Sitka spruce. The trail then transitions into natural tread interspersed with boardwalk for the next 1.6 miles. After crossing a bridge, a 0.5 mile section of boardwalk will take you to an open muskeg. Follow the path across the muskeg 0.5 miles to Lake Emery Tobin.

Attractions: Scenic views abound as the trail winds through dense, rolling forest along Lunch Creek. Lunch Creek provides several pools great for fishing and swimming, as well as rapids and waterfalls. The trail continues through muskeg and sub-alpine forest, ending with scenic views of Lake Emery Tobin and the surrounding mountain peaks.

Lunch Falls Trail

  • Length: 0.5 miles/ .8 km (one way), 45 minutes (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: 200 feet / 61 m
  • Rating: Easy
Access: Follow the North Tongass Highway 18 miles north of Ketchikan to Settlers Cove State Recreation Site. Turn left into the site and follow the road to a small parking area located within the campground loop which provides direct access to the trailhead. A larger parking lot near the campground host cabin offers additional parking.

Description: The trailhead is located at the parking area within the campground loop. The trail begins as a wide, gravel path paralleling the beach for a short distance before reaching a junction just before the Lunch Creek Bridge. At this junction, the stairs on the right lead up to Lunch Creek Trail (p. 34). To continue on the Lunch Falls Loop, continue across the bridge where another trail junction is present. At this junction, either the lower or upper section of the loop will lead you on a short hike ending back at the bridge. The trail after the bridge is mostly boardwalk, with sections of stairs and natural tread.

Attractions: This trail provides great views of Lunch Creek and Lunch Falls as well as access to the beach at several points along the lower section of the loop. The trail winds under large western redcedar, Sitka spruce, and western hemlock with salmonberry, blueberry, and huckleberry bushes making up a delicious understory.

Pipeline Trail

  • Length: 2.5 miles/ 4 km (one way), 2 hours (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet / 30 m
  • Rating: Easy
Access: This trail is divided into two sections, each with multiple access locations. The main trailhead for the lower section of trail is uphill of the Ward Cove Market, accessed by following the North Tongass Highway 6 miles from Ketchikan, just past Revilla Road junction on the right. The other trailhead for this lower section of trail and the trailheads for the upper section of trail are accessed by taking a right from North Tongass Highway on to Revilla Road. To access the second trailhead of the lower section of the trail follow Revilla Road 1 mile to the junction with Ward Lake Road, take a left and park in the gravel parking area. The trailhead is located on the north side of the parking area. The upper section of trail has three access points. The first trailhead is accessed by following Revilla Road north, just past the Ward Lake Road junction to a small, gated access road on the left. There is one more gated access road further along Revilla Road, just past Connell Lake Road on the left. Finally, the upper section of trail may also be accessed from a pullout on the side of Connell Lake Road.

Description: The trail begins at the North Tongass Highway and parallels Revilla Road following a wooden pipeline to Connell Lake. The trail is comprised of gravel and natural tread, and follows an old road that is fairly level with few steep inclines. Young alder and salmonberry grow along the trail making some areas thick and brushy.

Attractions: This level, gravel trail offers hiking and mountain biking along a large wooden pipeline. The trail provides links to the Salvage (p.48) and Ward Creek (p. 54) trails, and the Last Chance Campground. During the summer months, salmonberry, blueberry and huckleberry bushes provide an easily accessed berry picking spot.  

Ward Lake Trail

  • Length: 1.3 miles/ 2.1 km (one way), 1 hour (one way)
  • Elevation Gain: not significant
  • Rating: Easy

Access: To access the trailhead parking area follow the North Tongass Highway 6 miles to the Revilla Road junction. Turn right, follow to the intersection with Ward Lake Road, and turn right again. Follow Ward Lake Road about 0.5 miles to the Ward Lake Day Use parking area. There is also access from a small parking area between Unit 9 and Unit 10 in the Signal Creek Campground, or from the parking area at the Grassy Point Picnic Area.

Description: From any of the trailheads, hikers may follow the trail in either direction looping about 1.3 miles back to the starting point. The trail follows the shoreline of Ward Lake and crosses two scenic bridges at the lake’s inlet and outlet. The gravel trail is flat and has been designated as ADA accessible. During times of heavy precipitation, areas of the trail may flood due to the close proximity to Ward Lake.

Attractions: This easily accessible trail provides year-round opportunities for recreation. Along the trail, look for interpretive signs that highlight the interesting features of Southeast Alaska’s ecology and wildlife. The trail also provides access to fishing, berry picking, benches, and picnic areas. Old-growth Sitka spruce can be found along the shores of the lake. The Ward Lake Day Use area provides a swimming beach and picnic shelters available for reservation. The area also provides opportunities for wildlife viewing and bird watching.

Source: USDA Tongass National Forest