With more than 700 miles of trails, hiking in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska’s Rainforest Islands unveils wonder after wonder.
The Tongass National Forest has trails for every age and ability. From ADA accessible boardwalks to rugged alpine trails offering multi-day backpacking opportunities, getting into the rainforest is a must-do while visiting. There are also numerous in-town walks and bike trails on which to explore. Forgot something? Hiking gear and supplies are available in the area’s major towns and both Petersburg and Wrangell have local bike shops with bike rentals available.
Amazing Southeast Alaska Camping & Hiking Opportunities
Is living amid the great outdoors, whether in a RV or pitching a tent, what you call relaxing? Well, Alaska’s Rainforest Islands have the perfect outdoor space for you to call home. Alaska’s Rainforest Islands have an extensive network of remote Forest Service cabins and shelters, public and commercial campgrounds, and RV parks in some of the most pristine and scenic areas on earth.
When camping and hiking in our national forest, please remember to practice good outdoor recreation ethics. Learn more.
El Capitan Cave
Bet you never thought of caving in Alaska, did you? On northern Prince of Wales Island, there is a vast karst ecosystem and landscape with some 500 caves. The largest, El Capitan, is open to the public to explore. The US Forest Service offers free tours during summer months, starting Memorial Day weekend. For more information or to schedule a tour, call the Thorne Bay Ranger District at (907) 828-3304.
Located 15 miles south of Petersburg, Alaska, Three Lakes Trail is a popular day hike. The 4.5-mile boardwalk trail loops around four small lakes and traverses across wildflower-covered muskeg and wooded areas. You also have the option to take a side trip to Ideal Cove on Frederick Sound. Three of the lakes have picnic tables and a small rowboat available. Learn More
Rainbow Falls trailhead is located 4.5 miles from downtown Wrangell in Shoemaker Bay Recreation Area. This trail is great for all ages and abilities, as the trail itself is less than a mile long. The first ¼ mile to Rainbow Creek is an easy walk through old growth forest and perfect for those with youngsters or with limited ability. From the bridge to the Rainbow Falls viewing platform, hikers will climb almost 600 stairs. The trail continues another 2.7 miles to a second viewing area directly over Rainbow Falls. For those with stronger legs and more ambition, the trail then continues on as the High Country trail, which traverses the ridge line back toward town, about 8 miles. Learn More
The Cathedral Falls trail is located 8 miles outside of Kake, Alaska. This trail leads to the scenic falls on Cathedral Falls Creek. The trail first passes through a small area thick with berries, then descends steeply through old growth forest to the creek. Cathedral Falls is a popular spot for trout and salmon fishing. No facilities are provided. The trail is 1/2-mile long round trip and is considered moderately difficult.