The Trails of Ketchikan
By Marie L. Monyak
February 17, 2006
Members of the Ketchikan
Outdoor Recreation and Trails Coalition (KORTC)
Trails, trails and more trails. Ketchikan has no shortage of
trails. So the proverbial sixty-four thousand dollar question
isjust how many hiking trails are there in Ketchikan? How many
can you come up with?
Unfortunately the answer isn't all that easy. There are trails
accessible by the road system and trails accessible only by boat.
There are developed/improved trails, developed trails, handicapped
accessible trails and trails that are just cleared and brushed.
Then there are the primitive trails.
Some trails are on Forest Service land, some on State land, some
on Borough landwell, you get the picture. The number of trails
varies, depending on the location and type of trail.
If you had been at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center last
Friday night for the presentation by the Ketchikan Outdoor Recreation
and Trails Coalition (KORTC) you would have learned everything
you ever wanted to know about hiking the trails in and around
From left to right: Harold Adams, Jim Mitchell, John Dickinson,
Kathy Wiechelman, Mike Sallee.
Photo by Marie L. Monyak
The answer to the previously asked, sixty-four thousand dollar
question is16. It's generally accepted that there are 16 developed
trails which are accessible by the road system in the Ketchikan
It's amazing that no matter how long you live in Ketchikan there
is always something new to learn. Did you know that the trail
above the Third Avenue Bypass has a name? Did you know it's
called Rainbird Trail?
The KORTC has endless amounts of information about all the trails
on Revilla Island. The organization was formed in 1992 and is
primarily an information sharing organization that assists in
the planning, promotion and maintenance of hiking trails in the
The evening's presentation began with Jim Mitchell, President
of the KORTC who gave a brief synopsis of the Trails Ketchikan
Initiative, the Carlanna Lake Access Project and the effort underway
to acquire permanent access to Coast Guard Beach and South Point
Mitchell proceeded to introduce Harold Adams who gave a slide
show presentation of many of the trails in and around Ketchikan.
Anyone who wasn't aware of the numerous trails in the Ketchikan
area was pleasantly surprised, not only by the number of trails
but the beautiful scenic views afforded by many of them.
Adams provided many pictures of well defined trails covered in
gravel and lengthy boardwalks through muskeg fields sprinkled
with violet colored Lupine and blazing red Indian Paintbrush
that teased the audience. A view as far as the eye can see was
the reward for making it to the top of many of the trails. Seeing
these maintained trails, literally in the middle of nowhere,
was evidence of the KORTC's presence and involvement in providing
a healthy outdoor activity for all of Ketchikan to partake of.
As Adams finished his slide show he turned the floor over to
Kathleen Wiechelman who spoke about the Adopt-A-Trail Program
which KORTC sponsors. Wiechelman pointed out that there are
numerous trails in need of adoption by organizations or even
groups of people that will make a point of maintaining their
adopted trail a minimum of four times a year.
Volunteers can do minimal work such as picking up litter and
cutting back brush or volunteer for heartier work such as adding
gravel to previously muddy paths, installing wooden boardwalks
through muskeg, trimming overhanging trees or building benches
Mitchell came back to the podium to expand a bit on the Carlanna
Lake Trail. "The proposed trail would start at the dam
and run along the east shore of the lake with approximately 2
or 3 fishing access trails. The main trail would continue on
to a bridge that would be built over the inlet stream. From
there it would be a primitive route leading to a connection with
the Minerva Mountain trail," Mitchell said.
Acquiring public access to Coast Guard Beach and South Point
Higgins Beach on the North end of town was the next topic which
was covered by John Dickinson who said, "Both parcels are
owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust yet have been used for
generations by the people of Ketchikan."
Dickinson pointed out the many traditional uses of these two
areas such as beachcombing, swimming, picnicking, environmental
education classes and subsistence gathering of plant life. Both
of the trails have been partially improved and are in need of
finishing but the land ownership issue needs to be addressed.
"A lot of people don't even realize that it is not public
land, both Coast Guard Beach and South Point Higgins Beach are
owned by the Mental Health Trust and they have that land to generate
funds so eventually something will happen to that land and it
may get sold off."
Dickinson continued, "A working group has been formed to
look into a solution to acquire the lands so that they remain
parklands with public access. We are going to have to have money
to acquire these lands, grant funding is one way."
Dickinson wanted to point out that, "The next meeting of
the KORTC is to be held on February 23rd at 5 P.M. at the KPU
building. We have sign up sheets if anybody wants to join.
Everyone is welcome, they can be a part of the phone tree, they
can work on the trails, work on grant writing, donate a million
dollars, whatever." Dickinson said.
After a bit of laughter, Dickinson sat down and Mike Sallee came
forward to share his personal vision of possible new trails for
Ketchikan in the future.
For anyone who wants to get outdoors and get involved in a community
effort, the KORTC is a worthwhile choice. You may visit their
website at www.geocities.com/trailscoalition.
Or for further information or questions you may contact their
President, Jim Mitchell at 225-6808.
For information about the Adopt-a-Trail program contact Kathleen
Wiechelman at 247-7780 or email her at kwiechelman(AT)gci.net
Marie L. Monyak is
a freelance writer living in Ketchikan, Alaska.
Contact Marie at mlm1x[AT]hotmail.com
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