Naha River Area
The Naha River watershed, 20 miles north of Ketchikan, contains one of the finest trail and cabin systems in Southeast Alaska. The river once supported astounding runs of sockeye salmon and is still a popular salmon, steelhead, and trout fishing area for locals.
At one time the town of Loring (established 1888) at its mouth had the world’s largest fish cannery and was the main point of entry into Alaska. Today, it is a tiny settlement of retirees and vacation homes. Heckman Lake, six miles upriver, supported the world’s largest and most costly salmon hatchery in the early 1900s. All that remains are overgrown ruins.
The pleasant six-mile Naha River Trail begins at Naha Bay, follows the shore of Roosevelt Lagoon, then climbs gently up to Jordon and Heckman Lakes. At the mouth of Roosevelt Lagoon is an interesting salt chuck where the direction of water flow changes with the tides. Covered picnic tables are nearby. More picnic tables are two miles up the trail at a small waterfall—a good place to watch black bears catching salmon late in the summer.
There’s a Forest Service cabin on Jordan Lake and two cabins on Heckman Lake (one is wheelchair accessible); all three have rowboats and cost $35. Reservations ($10 fee) can be made at 518/885-3639, 877/444-6777, or www.recreation.gov. Access to the Naha area is by sea kayak, floatplane, or skiff. Contact Knudsen Cove Marina (907/225-8500 or 800/528-2486, www.knudsoncovemarina.com) for skiff rentals or drop-offs.
Lake Shelokum, 40 miles north of Ketchikan, has a free three-sided shelter near a hot spring. A two-mile trail stretches from the shelter to Bailey Bay, passing the scenic lake and an impressive waterfall. Other cabins well worth visiting include Lake McDonald, Reflection Lake, Helm Creek, and Blind Pass. Get details at the Discovery Center in Ketchikan.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition