Hiking the Deer Mountain Trail, Ketchikan Alaska

I decided to do a quick visit this week to Ketchikan, Alaska for a little hiking and glacier exploring.

ketchikan map

Ketchikan is a small town of about 8,000 folks sitting on the inside passage of Alaska.  It is a popular cruise ship port in an area rich in wildlife, including salmon, black bear, and bald eagles.

Deer Mountain Ketchikan Alaska
Looking from the visitors center to the summit of Deer Mountain.

The Deer Mountain trail is a moderate distance (5.5 miles round trip) but steep (2600 ft elevation gain) hiking trail rated ‘Most Difficult’.  The Deer Mountain summit is at 3001 ft (915 m) and the trail head starts at 401 ft.

I met a nice family (Greek and Portuguese) to hike with and off we went.  The trail starts pleasantly enough with a wooden boardwalk and steps.

Deer Mountain Trail Start
The Portuguese man and the very nice and fit Greek family


We continued up the steep trail through temperate rainforest hitting the 1 mile marker and completing a bit under half the vertical climb.

Deer Mountain Trail Mile 1 marker


Deer Moutain Trail midway view
The view at around 1.25 miles.  You can see how steep the climb is.

As we continued to climb the flora began to change and the views become even more amazing.

Deer Moutain Trail midway view 2

Deer Mountain Trail Flora

We approached the snow line.

Deer Mountain Trail first snow

We got to a point near the summit where crossing the slippery snow on the steep slope gave us pause.  A local slowly and carefully coming back across looked at our hiking boots and advised against continuing.

Deer Mountain Trail more snow
Close to the top and our turnaround point.  Steeper than it looks

The views are stunning and well worth the hike.

Deer mountain summit
Looking east at the Tongass National Forest
Deer Mountain Trail Summit
Looking west down at the town of Ketchikan and the cruise ships in port.  This gives a sense of the vertical we climbed.

The locals were somewhat surprised us “tourists” were tackling their local hike – they thought that was ‘really cool’.

The pictures below are me at the beginning of the hike and me near the summit (looking a bit tired).

After spending maybe 45 minutes atop Deer Mountain, we made our way back to the wonderful town of Ketchikan for a day well spent.

Ketchican Alaska

If you are coming off the cruise ships, this hike is a great alternative to a paid excursion. The trail head is on Ketchikan Lakes Road on the right just past the intersection of Nordstrom Drive.  You can always take a cab or Uber to the trail head to save a little time.

Be aware, the weather can change rapidly.  Also (as we found out) there might be snow in steep sections and the footing can be dangerous especially in the spring.  Finally, know what to do in case of an encounter with a wild animal.

Even with the warnings above, get out there and enjoy this planet every chance you get.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. William Bill says:

    How did you get to Kerchikan? Plane? Ship?


    1. paulifeblog says:

      Ketchikan is an island and the airport is on a separate island, but when you fly in there is a ferry port at the airport. Very easy. Other way is by ship/boat including cruise ship. Great question.


  2. What a “cool” adventure. I hope to visit Alaska in my lifetime.


    1. paulifeblog says:

      I highly recommend it. Check out today’s post for more.


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