Travel

Hiking Alaska’s Port Cities

 

in-juneau-alaska

We gathered our trekking poles, gaiters, and packs full of snacks and water. Our dirty hiking shoes looked silly compared to the lavish carpet designs of our luxury cruise ship. We received stares and questions from our fellow cruisers as we packed into the full elevator. No one else seemed to be geared up for a day of hiking quite like we were.

‘Why are you carrying ski poles?’ (They’re actually trekking poles…)

‘Aren’t you scared of the bears?’ (Bear safety comes with the hobby of hiking…)

‘What excursion are you headed to?’ (We’re creating our own adventure today!)

Our love for mountains, hiking, and buffets (!) made choosing an Alaskan cruise for our honeymoon quite easy. We knew the crowd on the ship would be… dated. But, we didn’t care. We wanted to see Alaska in a unique and luxurious way, and this trip seemed to be the best fit for us.

As backpackers, we’ve grown accustomed to nights in a tent and wearing the same clothes day after day. To say the least, our cruise experience was extreme luxury we never experienced before in a trip. I mean, it was our honeymoon after all. We needed to treat ourselves just a little bit, right?

We stepped off the ship and into the small town of Ketchikan, Alaska. The clouds moved in and out of the mountains that rose so high above the town’s coastal line.

We consider ourselves hikers, in kind of a big way. We’ve hiked long distances for months. We’ve hiked difficult terrain up to 14,000 feet. What better hiker honeymoon than to have a trail to hike nearly every day and a buffet to feast on every night?

We aren’t the kind of travelers to hire a travel agent, invest in a pricey shore excursion, or typically even stay anyway else but our tent. So, we made our own adventure on every single port city we landed on during our Alaskan cruise.

If you are headed to an Alaskan cruise and your wallet isn’t prepared for the prices of the shore excursions, hiking is your best bet. Many of the trails are within walking distance from the cruise ports, while others are a cheap taxi ride away. We chose to do trails that were a bit more strenuous and that climbed in elevation. The views from these hikes just couldn’t be beat. However, these are not the only hikes around. Research each of your port city to find even more hiking trails for your ability and conditions.

Our Hikes

Ketchikan

  • Deer Mountain Trail
    • This is a gorgeous switchback trail that boasts views of the port, various islands, and interior mountains. It is an uphill adventure, so it may be strenuous for some.

Juneau

  • Mt Roberts
    • We took the tram from the port up to the trailhead that then took us up some switchbacks and a gorgeous walk along a ridge up to Mt. Roberts. This hike boasts views of the port and a massive valley view if you do plan on going as far as the peak of Mt. Roberts.

Skagway

  • Upper Dewey Lake Trail
    • We ended up not hiking in Skagway due to the weather. We rented a car and took a scenic drive into Canada instead.

Seward

  • Mt Marathon
    • We didn’t actually hike in Seward because we had a bus to catch. However, we did hear about this hike, which is famous for the race up and down it every July 4th.

Recommendations

Some of these recommendations are common knowledge if you are an active hiker.

  • Take snacks and water
    • When it comes to snacks, we took many things from our ship’s buffet breakfast. We took boiled eggs, fruits, yogurt, breads/muffins, cereal, and cheese. And since we knew we would be hiking during our vacation, we brought nuts and protein bars on the cruise with us.
  • Trekking poles are recommended
    • Some spots were icy and snowy
  • Bring an insulating jacket and rain jacket
  • Bug net or spray is recommended for lower elevations
  • Wear sun block
  • Waterproof shoes are recommended for higher elevations with snow.
  • Know bear safety. Although there aren’t as large populations of grizzly bears near the ports, you still should know grizzly bear safety if you hike in Alaska. Black bears are abundant near the ports, so know black bear safety. Check out my articles on Bear Safety Part 1 and Part 2.
  • If you want to get away from other hikes and cruisers on the trails, hike more than 2 miles. After two miles on a trail, we were nearly alone for awhile.

Alaska is a gorgeous place but also a dangerous place. Always check the weather and the trail conditions before heading out on a trail.

Know of other cool hikes in the port cities of Alaska? Share your recommendations in the comments below!

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