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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Deer Mountain, AK

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23 1 0
Guide 1 Triplog  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List AK > South
Rated
4
4 of 5 by 1
 
0
Statistics
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Difficulty 3.5 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance One Way 3.45 miles
Trailhead Elevation 349 feet
Elevation Gain 2,998 feet
Accumulated Gain 3,374 feet
Avg Time One Way 6 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 14.69
Interest Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall, Seasonal Creek, Perennial Creek & Peak
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
23  2016-08-12 writelots
Author writelots
author avatar Guides 19
Routes 39
Photos 5,577
Trips 337 map ( 3,894 miles )
Age 46 Female Gender
Location Tucson, AZ
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Jul, Aug, Jun, Sep
Seasons   Early Summer to Late Summer
Sun  5:22am - 5:59pm
Official Route
 
0 Alternative
 
Water
Nearby Area Water
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Fauna Nearby
Flora Nearby
Named place Nearby
Climb the Clouds
by writelots

Likely In-Season!
Legend says that the rains in Ketchikan are the result of the tears of a she-bear shape shifter who has never gotten over the tragic death of her husband. The town is so often shrouded in mists and rains that even the street signs can bear a soft, mossy crown. If you arrive in town on a cloudy day, you may not realize that the mists hide forest draped mountains that rise steeply from the sea to heights of over 4,000 feet. There's a popular hike that explores one of the closest peaks to the town, and its not only a fantastic way to experience the temperate rainforests in all their glory, it's a definite leg burner!


Deer Mountain is a favorite hike for locals of the Ketchikan area, with a trailhead located less than a mile from the heart of downtown. The first mile is the even rather popular with folks just walking off the 3-4 cruise ships which land in Ketchikan daily - eager to stretch their legs and escape the crowds (as many as 9,000 people a day!). Cruise shippers will often get a taxi to drive them the 1.5 miles from the berth to the trailhead, to walk up to the first viewpoint. I suppose this is why there are 1/4 mile markers on the trail indicating how much you've climbed until you reach that first visa. However, even this first mile is not easy by any stretch. It climbs nearly 800' using tight switchbacks and tall steps (usually reinforced with logs). Because its almost always wet in Ketchikan, you're sure to be fighting a little mud, though the tread is reasonably well maintained. At the 1 mile marker, the trees open suffiently to allow views of the sound and the cruise ships at their berths - that is if the fog and mists haven't socked in.

After you leave the first view, though, you're back in the deep rainforest cover - surrounded by Sitka spruce, hemlock, alder and cedar. Wild blueberries and salmon berries line the trail and you're reminded that you're in bear country. This stretch of trail eases off a little, but remains consistently climbing. There are some areas where the ground is so consistently wet and miserable that they've constructed short stepped boardwalks.

At about 2 miles from the trailhead, the trail enters a clearing and a far superior vista point. If you get here and the clouds are obscuring your view, wait a few minutes - it may change very quickly and open up to the sparkling blue waters below. Don't miss the little muskeg pond just beyond this clearing, its reflective surface and ebony depths are a like a impressionist painting.

At 2.5 miles, the trail reaches a junction. Continue straight around to the northeast slope and the Deer Mountain Shelter. The trail system continues on to Blue Lake, Silvis Lake and several more peaks in the area. The Shelters up here are first-come-first-served, but are reportedly way better than trying to keep dry on the boggy ground. If you head right and uphill from the junction you start to climb very steeply up the southern ridge toward the summit of Deer Mountain. Much of the trail here is in the open or in short, snow-stunted trees. At the peak, you can walk a maze of short trails that take you to views off each side of the peak. Particularly striking are the Ketchikan Lakes below (the city's water supply) and the sparkling Tongass Narrows. Weather permitting this is a fantastic spot for lunch, far away from the crowds and shops.

This hike is so popular, that an annual event, the "Deer Mountain Challenge", is hosted each year by the local hiking club and includes a champagne toast to those who reach the peak. Next time, I'll bring my own and enjoy the peak like a local!

Check out the Official Route and Triplog.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2016-09-07 writelots

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Deer Mountain
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Our host in Ketchikan recommended this as the "must do" trail for adventurous types visiting his city. Deer Mountain is the hike that locals do to keep in shape and get out of town when the cruise ships threaten their sanity. The trailhead is less than a mile from the heart of downtown, but you don't have to go more than a couple of switchbacks before you leave nearly all of the tourons behind. That was fine with us, for while we were certainly tourists, we didn't choose to limit our experiences to only that which might be enjoyed before the cruise ship blew its bass whistle.

    We started the hike in deep fog, hoping that it would lift at least enough for us to get a view or two. At each of the vista points, we needed to wait while the fog blew in and out - leading to lots of gasps and quick draws on the camera to capture vistas in the short windows of open sky.

    Once we started down from the peak, though, the clouds really lifted in earnest and we were treated to spotty sunshine - a real treat in Ketchikan. About 1/3 of the way down, Michelle stops short and says "Oh my gosh, its a bear". Now, you have to know Michelle to realize how calmly she said this (she says everything calmly), but her body language said something totally different. She stepped behind me unconsciously as I assessed our position. Luckily, the bear and her cub (who appeared shortly after she did) were not interested in a human encounter, and they moved off the trail too quickly for me to even get a picture. I do have an image of her lovely black/brown face burned into my memory, though! We waited an appropriate length of time before continuing, and saw no further evidence of them even though we were in an area with tight switchbacks. I thought it was very lucky to see a bear so close - and Michelle agreed, but not until a couple of days later!

    Permit $$
    None


    Directions
    Map Drive
    or
    Road
    Paved - Car Okay

    To hike
    Follow Stedman Street south from Creek Street to Deermount Street. Take a left onto Deermount Street and follow to the intersection with Ketchikan Lakes Road. Turn right onto Ketchikan Lakes Road and continue for 0.5 miles to the junction with Nordstrom Drive. Continue straight through the junction and turn right immediately after into the Deer Mountain trailhead parking area.
    page created by writelots on Sep 07 2016 5:26 pm
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