Ketchikan is blessed with amazing Alaska Hiking opportunities! While most visitors simply do not have the time (or desire!) to take a full day hike, there are great, shorter, well-maintained, & easy to follow Ketchikan hiking trails conveniently located close to the Cruise Ship Terminal! One of my favorite day hikes in Ketchikan is called the Rainbird Trail, located a short distance from the downtown Cruise Ship Terminals.
One of the amazing views from the Rainbird Trail
The Rainbird Trail is a delightful 1.3 mile trail that winds through a rainforest with towering trees, shrubs, & ferns before skirting a bluff that offers striking views of the city and Tongass Narrows humming with cruise ships, floatplanes, fishing boats, ferries and barges (not to mention a couple geocaches!). It's one of my husband's and my favorite go-to hike!
The Ketchikan Rainbird Trail is named after the mythical 'Rainbird' said to inhabit the local rainforest. A Ketchikan icon, you will find the Rainbird all over town on logos, tour companies' names, & apparel. (Like the Ketchikan Yacht Club Burgee!)
We begin the hike at the trailhead located at the University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) campus. This Ketchikan Alaska hiking trailhead is easy to get to by either taxi or city bus, details here.
The trailhead is located on the left side of the parking lot, to the left of the buildings. There is a trailhead sign which helps! Click the photo below to see the trail description.
The trail is typical of most Alaska hiking trails - it starts off gravel and begins an upward climb. The trail surface changes many times - from gravel to wooden steps, tree roots, large rocks, etc.
The start of the hike is a decent uphill with steps interspersed. We got our heart rate up but it wasn't a killer. It levels off and the walk is great. We crossed a few itty bitty creeks (easily crossed with a short hop), the sound making the hike all the more pleasurable!
All during the hike we were rewarded with amazing trees (check out the large one I pictured - it was HUGE!) and even in early Spring it was very green.
The ferns were gorgeous and the berry bushes were just beginning to send out their new shoots. OK, sorry, I'll get back to the hike! haha...
About 1/2 way into the hike we ran into a set of steps going down hill. This route takes you to the 1st set of stairs that run back down to the street below - we kept going to the next set.
And then we got to the bluff where we sat back & enjoyed the panoramic views....and it was stunning! We stopped & watched the float planes taking off & landing, the fishing boats going here & there, and the eagles flying all around us. And we took lots of pictures (and even found a geocache!) - of course!
Gorgeous, huh?! It's no wonder why we love it here and why this is one of our favorite Ketchikan Alaska hiking trails. :-)
We continued along the trail until it terminated at the 2nd set of stairs (300+ stairs!) down to the street below. We walked along the street to the crazy Schoenbar street - which then took us to Berth #4 Cruise Ship Terminal.
The trailhead is approximately 2 miles from the downtown Cruise Ship Terminal but it is a pretty hefty climb! You can easily take a taxi to the trailhead as they will be lined up at the Cruise Ship berths. A taxi to the trailhead will cost less than $10 and you can even make arrangements for them to pick you up at the end of the trail if you wish.
You can also take the Ketchikan City Bus to the trailhead, though it will cost you a little more time (but less $$!). Here are your options:
Here is the Ketchikan City Bus Schedule where you can see the times the departure times for the bus. The City Bus Drivers are amazing! Tell them your plan to make sure there are no schedule changes.
I hope you enjoy our Ketchikan Alaska hiking trails as much as we do!
Visitors to the Ketchikan Alaska Hiking page may also be interested in the following pages: