State Parks & Preserves
Chilkoot State Park
Entering on the east side of Haines you will meet up with the Chilkoot Inlet into the Lukat Inlet that steers you towards the Chilkoot River and Lake, which encompasses the Chilkoot State Park. A public campground that covers 80 acres of forested land and an accessible waterway for smaller watercrafts. There are 32 campsites that have access to a picnic area, latrines, water, historical features, and a boat launch that enters into the Chilkoot Lake.
The Chilkoot lake is 3 ½ miles in length and a great kayaking location surrounded by a protected mountain entrance. Make sure to bring your fishing gear, both the lake and the narrow river presents itself with possibilities.
Nothing provides a thrill quite like seeing bears in the wild. Haines is home to both black and brown bears. Although bears can be seen virtually anywhere in the valley, certain areas are becoming well-known for optimal bear viewing opportunities. The Chilkoot River flows from Chilkoot Lake and is one of the most easily reached bear viewing spots in Southeast Alaska from mid-June to October.
Over 260 species of birds pass through the valley at one time or another during the year and one place to view them will be your drive out to the Chilkoot State Park via Lutak Road. Use the pull-offs along the way and have a checklist ready to mark off your sightings.
Chilkat State Park
Entering on the west side of Haines you will meet up with the Chilkat Inlet that steers you towards the Chilkat River and Lake. The Chilkat Peninsula consists of 9,837 acres of luscious forest to explore through the three hiking trails; Battery Point, Mount Riley and Ayiklutu Trail (this one being inside the Chilkat State Park). The Chilkat State Park is a public campground offering a log cabin information center with spotting scopes for getting a close-up of glaciers, wildlife, and sea life. This campground has 35 campsites and 4 walk-in sites and has access to a picnic area, boat launch (kayak and fishing areas), latrines, water, and a trail system. Beware that part of the road into the campground has a 14% grade dirt road.
During the drive out Mud Bay Road to the Chilkat State Park take advantage of the pull-outs for viewing the towering mountains and abundance of sea life along the way. Moose are known to wander in the Haines area and can be seen anywhere in the valley but many have been seen trotting along this passage.
The Ayiklutu Trail is located before you get to the waterfront, 7 miles one-way but you can make it as short as you want, one mile out will get you to the beachfront landing with the glaciers nearby and sea life possibilities.
Driving north as you follow the Chilkat River out the Haines Highway you will be driving through the Chilkat Eagle Preserve, which is a known location for the largest eagle gathering during their salmon feast during the months of October through December. You will meet the Canadian border 40 miles out, make sure to have your passport because you don’t miss one of the most breathtaking drives once you go into Canada. You will be astonished how close you get to some of the highest mountain peaks and see the mega winter area that is enjoyed by all.
Bald Eagle Preserve
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was created by the State of Alaska in June of 1982. The preserve was established to protect and perpetuate one of the world's largest concentrations of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. It also sustains and protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses; provided such uses do not adversely affect preserve resources.
The Preserve consists of 48,000 acres of river bottomland of the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers. The boundaries were designated to include only areas important to eagle habitation. Virtually every portion of the preserve is used by eagles at some time during the year.
View the eagles from the designated parking areas between Haines Highway and the river or walk all or part of the 2-mile riverside trail. In addition to eagles, you may see mountain goats, moose, swans, and sometimes bears. Stay within the designated areas to prevent stressful conditions for the eagles. They need their space to roost and feed.
The largest congregation of Bald Eagles is during late fall and early winter, and please use pull-outs along the highway to stop and view the eagles and wildlife.