Sunday, June 14, 2015

Hike Mt. Riley in Haines, Alaska

At 1,760 feet, Mt. Riley is the highest point on the Chilkat Peninsula, giving you panoramic views of Haines, the mountain range, braided Chilkat River and Lynn Canal as well as Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers. Audrey and I hiked this mountain in June of 2015. We went in the early part of the day, so we didn't actually run into any other hikers until we were headed back down the trail. Plus it was cooler. It starts out relatively easy with nice boardwalks along the boggy parts of the trail but once you start to ascend it gets steep! There is a 'trail tease' (false summit)...but once you get to the top the views are AMAZING! ~Audrey & Patti
What: Mt. Riley
 Difficulty Level: Moderate Plus
Where: Haines, Alaska
What to Wear: Comfortable walking/hiking clothes and shoes. No special attire required. Do wear layers.
What to Bring: Small day pack, water, and a camera. A snack would not go amiss, as it is a fairly long hike.
Cost: No
Best time to go: May through September, although weather permitting year round.  
Children: Yes
Duration: 2.8 miles, each way. Plan on 4 hours round trip.
Pet Friendly: Yes
Directions: There are three trailheads: Battery Point, Portage Cove and Mud Bay. We took the Mud Bay Road trailhead, which is the most direct route and ended up being perfect for us. To get there, turn south along 3rd Avenue, behind Ft. Seward, and follow Mud Bay Road for about 3 miles. Parking and trailhead are clearly marked, parking on the right(west) side of road, and the trailhead starts on the top of the bank on the opposite side of the road from parking.

We didn't see any bears or signs of bears but glad we took bear spray just in case. 

Nice boardwalks along the first part of the trail. Lots of old-growth, very lush and verdant green.

The leaves are huge in southeast Alaska!

The first part of the hike has a nice system of wooden planks and bridges so you avoid the really marshy muskegs.  As you continue to ascend, you pass from the bog area into a forest of huge spruce and hemlock trees. 

All along the trail, it's clearly marked.

There are some steep areas, but not dangerous, they just add interest to an already beautiful hike. 

We crossed several little streams along the way.

The trails are nicely maintained for the most part. As you near the summit they become a little more narrow. This mountain has a 'false summit' - it looks like you are just about there, but not quite! The trail banks around the mountain a bit and you keep climbing (about 30 more minutes), then you come to an area of tundra and stunned trees that resemble bonsai...a good indication that you're almost there for real.

Just about when you're ready to give up you see this sign :)

This is how it looks right before the summit - completely different from the beginning of the trail! Don't these look like bonsai trees? 

Signs of moose near the summit. We were amazed that moose actually made it this high up the mountain. 

A panoramic view from the top - Rainbow Glacier, the mountain range and inlet...stunning!

Audrey pointing out the Rainbow Glacier in the distance.

Rainbow Glacier and its spectacular waterfall. You can actually see the water and mist coming off the glacier from this vantage point.

Taking a minute to relax before heading back down.

Chic Alaska chics on top of Mt. Riley. 

Now for the easy part...heading downhill :)

Extra tips

Sunshine Springs is a fresh water spring next to the road (at about mile 3.5 Mud Bay Road) it comes right out of the mountain. Many of the locals get their drinking water from here. Apparently one of the old timers called the water here "Haines Champagne." So, stop by and fill your water bottles before your hike and you'll have a good chance of meeting a colorful local or two...

Parking is directly across the street from the trail head. As you drive down Mud Bay Road, you'll see the parking area on the right side of the road.

More Info: Mt. Riley trail map "Haines if for Hikers" is available  at this link: Haines is for Hikers

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