In Sitka, we’re grateful to host an elaborate trail system in the beautiful Tongass National Rainforest. Whether you prefer an easy-paced trail or a challenging climb, our 50+ miles of trails offer a perfect fit for all levels of accessibility.
We’ve ranked 9 main hiking trails in Sitka from easiest to hardest to help find the best fit for you. In addition to these 9 trails, there are 6 more trails “off the beaten path” that offer more options with a bit of extra planning. Check out our official hiking guide and sitkatrailworks.org to learn more about our off-island trails and safety tips for hiking in Southeast Alaska.
Just a 15-minute walk away from the downtown core, the Sitka National Historical Park preserves the site of a battle between Russian traders and indigenous Kiks.ádi Tlingit. The almost entirely flat trail is gravel paved and lined by over 20 totem poles. The park has multiple loops, ranging from a ten-minute walk to an hour loop. At the entrance to the park is a National Park Visitor Center, with exhibits on traditional Tlingit life, a 12-minute film, and preserved original totem poles. In the late summer and early fall, visitors can view the salmon spawning along the Indian River portion of this trail. The park is considered a must-do for any visitor in Sitka, and happily earns the spot as the easiest, and most accessible trail.
Sitka’s Cross Trail is a wide, gravel-paved pathway with links to other trails, access to neighborhoods, visitor destinations, and the downtown core. The Cross Trail is frequented by visitors and locals, and currently spans 8 miles in distance with 11 access points. This trail is mostly flat, with a few short moderately difficult sections throughout. An extension was added to the Cross Trail in June of 2023, extending the trail and creating an access point close to the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal, making it a popular and accessible choice for visitors from cruise ships.
The Starrigavan Estuary Life Trail is a lovely boardwalk trail through old growth forest and natural Southeast Alaska muskeg. This gentle path is a great way to enjoy Sitka wildlife, with a bird-viewing platform and chances to see bears enjoying the muskeg and marshy ponds. This beautiful muskeg trail is ADA accessible and is a great choice for families. At the end of the boardwalk, the trail merges into the Ben Grussendorf Forest trail, adding an optional gravel-paved extension to the walk. The trailhead to the Ben Grussendorf Forest trail is 1.7 miles from the Sitka Sound Cruise Terminal.
Indian River Trail offers a relaxing trek through old growth Tongass National Rainforest along the Kaasda Héen (Indian River). During salmon-spawning season in the summer and early fall, salmon are easily seen running through the river. this trail offers stunning views of the Three Sisters mountains and traverses along muskeg. You’ll cross over several log bridges. At the end of this trail you’ll be greeted with a gorgeous rushing waterfall.
This locally-loved trail is gravel paved and has intervals of steep climbing and level pathways, with two lakes at either end of the trail. Thimbleberry Lake and Heart Lake are frequented by locals in the summer as swimming holes. Access points at both ends of this trail allows hikers to choose their favorite route. On the Thimbleberry side, hikers can enjoy log bridges and the Thimbleberry waterfall. The Heart Lake side is accessed by Blue Lake Road, which offers additional mountain and forest views.
Mosquito Cove is a short loop that brings on the views. This trail is a combination of gravel paving and wooden stairs, including some steeps sections. Mosquito Cove lovingly got it’s name from the swarms of mosquitos that used to inhabit the area, but are no longer present. The pathway curves through old growth forested hills and along the shoreline of Sitka Sound. Don’t forget your camera!
The Herring Cove Trailhead is located at the end of the road system in Sitka. Just a short walk into the trail is a magnificent view of a waterfall at a wooden bridge. The trek to Beaver Lake is quite steep, and then levels out into a beautiful muskeg trail passing by the lake. Squeeze through a carved out rock passageway (perfect spot for a photo-op!), hop across the rock steps, and enjoy the unmatched mountain and lake views. This trail is a local favorite for the average hiker.
The Gavan Hill/Harbor Mountain trails have two access points- the Baranof Street trailhead walkable from downtown Sitka; and the Harbor Mountain trailhead, at the top of a windy, narrow, gravel road (approximately a 30-minute drive). Whether starting from the top of Harbor of the bottom of Gavan, the views are worth the effort: mountains, deep valleys, alpine rock fields, high meadows, twisted trees, wildflowers, and aerial views of Sitka. Make sure to dress appropriately for quickly changing weather, and pack the hiking essentials.
Climbing Mount Verstovia is a great challenge with rewarding aerial views of Sitka. This hike will take at least half a day, so pack a picnic lunch and your camera and enjoy the best views of Sitka. The steep and sometimes rough trail ends at Picnic Rock, a knob with spectacular vistas over Sitka Sound and Silver Bay. The established trail has it all, with incredible panoramic views, sub-alpine meadows, and thick, old growth forest canopies. Make sure to dress appropriately for quickly changing weather, and pack the hiking essentials. This tough, but rewarding climb earns it the title as the hardest trail in Sitka.