Rich in breathtaking scenery, these state parks have something for every nature lover.

Haines is not only one of the few Inside Passage communities accessible by road, but it's also one of the few to boast Alaska state parks, state recreation sites, and state marine sites. Six state-designated parks make this town of about 1,900 residents an outdoor playground for the thousands of visitors who pass through during the year.

Things to Do

Visitors to the Haines State Parks can enjoy sea kayaking, boating, fishing, hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and camping.

The largest and most developed park is the 6,049 acre Chilkat State Park, which is 7 miles south of Haines. Chilkat State Park has a campground, a picnic area, boat launch, and a log cabin visitor center. The visitor center’s observation deck features incredible views of Chilkat Inlet and both Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers.

The park also serves as the trailhead for Seduction Point Trail, an easy 6.5-mile hike that follows the coast, and Battery Point Trail, another easy route along the beach. One of Haines' post popular hikes, the Mount Riley Trail, can also be picked up in the state park and followed to the stunning views at the top of the 1,760-foot summit.

The 80-acre Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site northwest of Haines features camping, fishing, and bear viewing. The recreation site is near the outlet of Chilkoot Lake into the Chilkoot River and is also known for having some of the best salmon fishing in the Inside Passage, with four salmon runs from Mid-June through mid-October.

Other sites include the 7-acre Portage Cove State Recreation Site with tent camping right in town and the 5-acre Mosquito Lake State Recreation Site, 27 miles northwest of Haines off the Haines Highway.

Haines also has two undeveloped state marine parks. Chilkat Islands State Marine Park is a group of islands just south of Chilkat State Park that covers 6,560 acres. Further south of Chilkat Islands is Sullivan Island State Marine Park, a 2,720-acre unit that sits at the south end of Sullivan Island. The beaches are rocky and anchoring is very difficult in both marine parks, making kayaks the best way to visit.

Wildlife

The Chilkat River is the most productive coho spawning and rearing area in the Inside Passage and provides excellent habitat for wild sockeye, Chinook, and chum salmon runs. The river flats provide critical habitat for the bald eagles in the area, who are attracted by the availability of spawned-out salmon and open waters in late fall and winter. 

In addition to eagles, birds found the parks include kingfishers, common loons, harlequin ducks, trumpeter swans, and boreal owls. Land animals in the area include brown and black bears, mountain goats, lynx, wolves, coyotes, river otters, and moose. The area is home a variety of marine life, including humpback whales, seals, harbor porpoises, and Steller sea lions.

Landscape

Encircled by water and mountain ranges, Haines serves as an intersection between the interior of North America and the waters of the Inside Passage. The mountain ranges in the area are the Chilkat Range, Takinsha Mountains, Takshanuk Mountains, and Coast Mountains. Rainbow and Davidson Glaciers in the Chilkat Range are visible remnants of the area’s glacier history. The Chilkat River runs through a glacier-carved valley, and to the east of Haines is the Lynn Canal, which also once held a glacier.

History

Haines was named in honor of Francina Haines, a Presbyterian missionary who came to the area with the first missionaries in 1879. A few years later, in 1892, Jack Dalton established a toll road on the Tlingit trade route into the interior and charged gold-seekers to pass as they flooded into Canada. As a result, parts of the Dalton Trail are called the Haines Highway. Due to border disputes between the U.S. and Canada, the U.S. established an army post in Haines called Fort William H. Seward. The white buildings from the post still stand today as historical landmarks in Haines.

Facilities and Camping

Chilkat State Park has a campground located at the edge of Chilkat Inlet featuring 35 campsites, 4 ocean front walk-in tent sites, a picnic area, boat launch, a log cabin visitor center, and access to several hiking trails.

The Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site features 32 campsites in a beautiful stand of Sitka spruce along with a picnic shelter and boat launch.

Portage Cove State Recreation Site overlooks Chilkoot Inlet and the surrounding mountains near downtown Haines and offers nine tent campsites.

Mosquito Lake State Recreation Site, a quiet campground with 5 sites, is nestled next to Mosquito Lake in a Sitka spruce and western hemlock forest with a dock and boat launch to access the lake.

Getting Here

The parks are accessed by road from Haines, a community that is connected to the Alaska Highway as well as to other Inside Passage ports by the Alaska Marine Highway and regularly scheduled flights from Juneau and Skagway. The two state marine parks are accessible by boat only.

Explore more things to do in the Haines area.

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