Contact Tongass Kayak Adventures (907/772-4600, www.tongasskayak.com) for sea kayaking around the harbor and up Petersburg Creek. Guided four-hour trips are $85. All-day trips to LeConte Glacier include a water taxi and 10 hours of paddling near the glacier for $225. The company also runs multiday kayaking tours to LeConte Glacier, the Stikine River, and Tebenkof Bay, and rents kayaks for do-it-yourselfers.
Scandia House (110 Nordic Dr., 907/772-4281 or 800/722-5006, www.scandiahousehotel.com) and Doyle’s Boat Rentals (907/772-4439 or 877/442-4010, www.doylesboatrentals.com) have skiff rentals if you want to explore nearby waters or do a bit of fishing.
Petersburg and Mitkof Island are relatively bike-friendly (if the weather cooperates), with many miles of old logging roads traversing the landscape. Zoom Bikes (400 N. Nordic St., 907/772-2546, www.zoombikeshop.com) rents quality mountain bikes for $25 per day in the summer.
Stop by the Forest Service district office (Nordic Dr. and Haugen Dr.) for detailed maps of local hiking trails and 25 nearby cabins (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov, $45). A pleasant walk takes off from Nordic Drive, three miles from town and just beyond Sandy Beach, and continues down a mile-long boardwalk to Frederick Point. Along the way, you get a taste of muskeg, rain forest, and a creek that’s packed with salmon in August. You can return to town along the beach.
Located on the high school campus, the modern Petersburg Aquatic Center (209 Charles W St., 907/772-3304) has lap swimming and an adjacent community gym that contains a weight room and racquetball courts.
A short in-town boardwalk leads through the muskeg from the top of Excel Street to the senior center on 12th Street. The center is crowded with flowers outside, along with a menagerie of ducks, rabbits, geese, turkeys, and chickens. Right across the street is the Forest Service’s area office. In addition, the half-mile Hungry Point Trail traverses the muskeg from Hungry Point to the ball field. A paved bike path parallels the highway for two miles south from the ferry terminal.
Ravens Roost Cabin
Petersburg has one of the few Forest Service cabins in Southeast Alaska that can be reached by hiking from town. The Ravens Roost cabin lies 1,600 feet above sea level at the end of a four-mile trail that starts near the airport. The trail crosses muskeg for the first mile and becomes very steep (and often mucky) for the next mile through the forest before breaking into open muskeg again along a ridge. Here the trail is in better condition, and you are treated to grand views of Devil’s Thumb and the surrounding country. The path ends at a two-level Forest Service cabin with space for up to eight people. Allow three hours for the hike up, and be sure to make advance reservations for the cabin through the Forest Service (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov).
Three Lakes Recreation Area
Very popular with locals for picnicking, fishing, and berry picking is the beautiful Three Lakes Recreation Area, 22 miles southeast of town along Forest Service Road 6235. You can hitch there, but it’s a long hike back to town if your thumb is numb. Each lake has a rowboat and picnic table, and you may want to camp nearby at the old three-sided shelter built by the Civilian Conservation Corps along tiny Shelter Lake. An easy three-mile boardwalk loop trail connects the lakes, and a boardwalk trail continues from Sand Lake to nearby Ideal Cove, 1.5 miles away. The three main lakes (Sand, Hill, and Crane) are named after the sandhill cranes that announce each spring.
Kupreanof Trails and Cabins
On nearby Kupreanof Island, the Petersburg Mountain and Petersburg Lake trails provide good hiking and great views. Both paths begin at Bayou Point directly across Wrangell Narrows. Contact Petersburg Creek Charters (907/772-2425, www.alaska.net/~psgcreek) for a water taxi from town. A number of Forest Service cabins are available on Kupreanof.
For Petersburg Mountain Trail, walk north (right) up the road 1.5 miles to the trail marker. Be prepared for a very steep, muddy, and brushy path rising 3,000 feet in a distance of only 2.5 miles. From the top, however, you’ll be rewarded with outstanding views of the entire Petersburg area.
Petersburg Lake Trail provides an easy 6.5-mile hike to a Forest Service cabin on Petersburg Lake within the 46,777-acre Petersburg Creek–Duncan Salt Chuck Wilderness. Check with the Forest Service for current conditions for both of these trails. From Petersburg Lake it’s possible to continue another 10.5 miles along a primitive trail to the Forest Service’s Salt Chuck East Cabin. The trail is nearly level the entire distance and offers spectacular views of Portage Mountain.
On the south end of Kupreanof Island is Kah Sheets Lake, where the Forest Service has a very popular A-frame cabin. It’s a 30-minute flight from Petersburg. A three-mile trail leads from the lake to Kah Sheets Bay, where you can fish for coho and sockeye salmon. A second Forest Service cabin sits along the bay.
West Point Cabin, in Portage Bay on the north end of Kupreanof Island, is a great spot to watch for whales, and the beach makes for good hiking.
Thomas Bay Area
Several of the most popular local Forest Service cabins are in the country around Thomas Bay, on the mainland approximately 20 miles from Petersburg. Spectacular Baird and Patterson Glaciers feed into this bay. Reserve months ahead to ensure a spot. Cascade Creek Cabin is on the saltwater and is accessible by either air or charter boat. Backpackers will love Cascade Creek Trail, one of the best (and steepest) paths in the Southeast. This three-mile path climbs 3,000 feet from the cabin to Falls Lake, passing cascading water much of the way.
A three-sided shelter (free) sits along the shore of Falls Lake, and there’s good fishing for rainbow trout. Hikers can continue two more miles up the trail beyond Falls Lake to Swan Lake. Swan Lake Cabin is on the opposite end of the lake from the trailhead and offers great views of the rocky mountain country. Contact the Petersburg Forest Service office for details on trail conditions and access.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition