Exploring Alaska on Foot

A Roundup of Spectacular Places

Alaska’s land area is nearly equal in size to half of the rest of the United States. Imagine traveling from San Diego to Atlanta, and you’ll have grasped the approximate east-west span of this great land. Alaska can be broadly divided into a number of topographically distinct regions, each of which has its own characteristic vegetation and weather patterns.

Southeast Alaska is defined by water. The thousand-mile-long stretch of the Inside Passage provides the most accessible routes through this region’s rugged mountains and forested fjords. Tlingit and Haida people still inhabit quaint bayside villages overlooked by the totem poles of their ancestors. Fair weather is a rarity here, and you can expect to be rained on frequently. Early explorer Addison Powell remarked that”a prospector who visits these mountains should bring a photograph of the sun with him, as well as a diving suit.” Because of the difficulty involved in getting around, southeast Alaska is better suited to sea-kayaking than it is to hiking. Waterborne travelers can gain access to myriad trails on the islands and mainland that afford good day-hiking opportunities. Check first at the local US Forest Service offce for current trail conditions.