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Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
ideas for an Alaska trip? on 08/29/2010 22:23:29 MDT Print View

Hey all!
I am pretty excited because I am gonna have the chance to do a week or so backpacking trip in Alaska next summer. However, I have no idea where to even start to figure out a good place to go. I am going to be flying into Juno in the beginning to middle of August...and will have a week or longer if needed for a trip. I wont have a car, and if I can help it dont want to rent a car because I feel like its a huge waste of money to rent a car, drive it to the TH, and then park it for a week.

With all that being said, does anyone have ideas of some good places to go backpacking? Hopefully near Juno.

Any tips, ideas or anything would be an awesome help!

Thanks!
Dan

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: ideas for an Alaska trip? on 08/29/2010 22:43:16 MDT Print View

You will have better luck starting from Juneau.

However, you will have better luck with public transportation if you start from Anchorage.

If you are close to Anchorage, then there are the Chugach Mountains. If you are close to Denali, then there is the Alaska Range.

If you are out on the Alaskan Peninsula, you can go to Katmai and backpack into the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. There aren't any roads out there anyway.

--B.G.--

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
alaska on 08/29/2010 22:54:30 MDT Print View

I wish I could start from another spot....but I am kinda stuck flying into Juneau.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
Re: alaska on 08/29/2010 23:22:30 MDT Print View

Be thankful that you are not flying into Anchorage. Juneau has great public transportation and a wonderful trail system. It is a lot easier to get around and a lot more hiker friendly than Anchorage, Kenai or Fairbanks. You can easily spend two weeks backpacking around here. You have a choice of walking along the coast or up on the Alpine, either are simple to do and offer great opportunities for seeing wildlife. With some planning you can start your hike at the airport, stop at a grocery store for food and be in wilderness within three hours, all on foot. Add one bus ride and you can start from the downtown trails.

Spend some time on the Tongass Forest Service Website and this one which is our trail system.http://www.juneautrails.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=28&Itemid=79

And if you don't like trails, there is a lot of coast to walk, just in from the beach. This from a late February bushwhack around Douglas.
There is no trail


A note. Mid August is fall here and the salmon are running into our streams. That means it is wet -- though today was sunny and warm --and there will be bears. Stop at the Nugget Mall and buy a can of Bear Spray on your way to the Trails.

Brian Cripe
(brian.cripe) - F

Locale: Midwest
Juneau on 08/29/2010 23:27:26 MDT Print View

There is lots of day hiking available near Juneau, but I don't know of a lot of good backpacking there (I'm not saying it doesn't exist, I just don't know about it, certainly nothing that will occupy a week). You could take a ferry/small plane up to Skagway and hike the Chilkoot pass trail (33 miles, 3-4 days - hike up and take the train back down. Bring a passport, b/c you'll end up in Canada!) and the surrounding area (I wouldn't hang out in Skagway, there are a lot of large cruise ships in and out of there every day). You also could go up to Haines, which has lots of great hiking opportunities and avoids most of the big tourism crowds that Juneau and Skagway get hit by during the summer.

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Alaska on 08/29/2010 23:33:01 MDT Print View

Thanks for the great tips! I am definitely want to get into the alpine area more than the coastal. I am excited to hear the salmon are running, I love to fish! I am used to pullin 10-12in trout out of the high sierra lakes, so some big fish will be a good change.

Are there any particular trails that you can recommend? I am also not opposed to some off trail hiking as well. Hopefully areas with minimal people around, and hopefully to get into some alpine rivers and lakes.

I have heard mixed opinions about bear spray. Is that sufficient enough, or do I need to bring a gun? Im not much of a gun person, but my safety is a priority.

I am used to sierra nevada backpacking as I said earlier.....I know the weather can be more extreme in alaska, and of course the grizzlies....besides that are there other things I should be aware of?

Thanks again!

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Alaska on 08/30/2010 00:15:42 MDT Print View

Why would you need a firearm if you run into one of these lovable hunks?Alaskan Coastal Brown Bear


--B.G.--

Brian Cripe
(brian.cripe) - F

Locale: Midwest
re: firearm on 08/30/2010 07:52:14 MDT Print View

Bear spray should be adequate. The bears generally are pretty focused on their fishing when around rivers, etc. so they won't bother you. Besides, you would need a pretty high-powered gun to be any good against a 1500lb brown bear (yep, they grow 'em big up there!). If you're smart about how you behave, you should not have any issues.

As far as the other questions you posed, be prepared for significantly wet weather - this is not a good trip for any "sort-of waterproof" gear. You will get wet. The Tongass is a rain forest.

The salmon that have run up the rivers are no longer the healthy pink salmon that you are used to seeing. You could practically walk from one side of a stream to the other on the backs of fish, they will be so dense in some areas, but as they work their way up stream to spawn they are burning off alot of the oils and nutrients that make them so tasty. If you watch the bears, they'll often just bite off the heads (and the stomachs of the females) b/c the fish are so abundant that it's more nutritionally efficient for them to eat that way. The salmon you are used to getting at the store are caught before they even make it into the streams, so they look/taste different than what you'd find upstream. I'm not saying that you can't possibly eat them, just be prepared for what you'll see.

Most of all, enjoy yourself! Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on the planet - you'll have a great time!

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Tongass National Forest on 08/30/2010 08:03:07 MDT Print View

So it sounds like The Tongass National Forest is the place for me! Are there any particular trails there anyone can recommend?

I kinda figured the salmon would be spawning. But what about trout? I know there are trout up there and they dont really spawn

Dan Magdoff
(highsierraguy) - F

Locale: Northern California
Tongass on 08/31/2010 00:42:37 MDT Print View

So I have been searching the internet like none other trying to find some leads on places in the Tongass National Forest to go, but I cant find anything! I have found a list of some trail heads and a few names of lakes and what not...but thats about it. I am gonna shoot the forest service office up there a call tomorrow to see if I can get pointed in the right direction.

It seems the main trails in Tongass are:
Misty Fiords
S Prince of Wales
N Prince of Wales
Ketchikan
Wrangell
Petersburg/ Kake
Sitka
Hoonah
Admiralty Island

has anyone heard about any of these?

John Neary
(JohnNeary) - F
Juneau hiking options on 08/31/2010 12:55:13 MDT Print View

Don,
I'm surprised you can't find information about hiking around Juneau on the USFS website. I work for the USFS and we have a website with information for the Tongass and each district, although I realize it's not state of the art.
You can give me a call for ideas 907-789-6224. I'm the Wilderness Manager for Admiralty Island and Juneau area wilderness. Juneau has many good hiking options and you may want to consider renting a cabin to hike into. Both the USFS and the State of Alaska rent them for just $35-$50 a night and it helps with the rain this time of year. Fishing is best along the coast, casting for silvers can be productive in certain areas for the next couple of weeks. Bears are always a consideration but pepper spray is an adequate deterrant. Common sense is even more important - ie, make noise when hiking and store food and garbage out of reach of bears.