Hike Harbor Mountain via the Gavin Hill Trail

Rate this Adventure Alaska Harbor Mountain Trailhead

Added by Michael Gabbert

Harbor Mountain can be easily accessed from Sitka and the trail ends 5-10 minutes from downtown. Explore diverse topography of mountains, deep valleys, alpine rock fields, high meadows, twisted trees, wildflowers, and alpine huts.

The first part of the trail involves a series of switchbacks through gorgeous forests of Sitka spruce. About a half mile in, you will come to the first bowl/overlook, which will provide a taste of the view to come. Another 1.25 miles from here you will begin to clear the forested area onto the peaks of Harbor Mountain. At this point, you will have excellent views of Mt. Edgecumbe and Sitka Sound.

Upon reaching the top, the area begins to open up significantly and you will encounter beautiful alpine rock fields. After an additional 1 mile hike through the rock fields, you will reach the Alpine Hut. A quaint yet perfectly situated shelter, this is a great place to rest and eat lunch. The alpine hut can also serve as a shelter should inclement weather develop, or as a perfect area to camp if you want to spend the night. At this point, will have hiked 2.5 miles (1.5-2 hrs) into the hike, at an elevation of 2,480 feet.

Next head south along the Gavan Hill/Ridge Trail. From the Alpine Hut, the landscape on Gavan Hill is overtaken with sub-alpine meadows and wildflowers with views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Despite slight uphill elevation upon initially setting out from the Alpine Hut, the majority of the remaining 2.75 miles to the town is downhill (nearly 1,900 ft downhill).

After 1.5 miles, the meadow and wildflower landscape will slowly transition to more sparsely situated trees, with the final 1.25 miles putting you through a dense Sitka spruce forest. Before entering the final stretch through the forest, there are some great lookouts of the town of Sitka and the southern collection of islands. Upon completion, you are a quick 5-10 minute walk to the center of town.

This hike can easily be done in reverse order by starting out at the Gavan Hill Trailhead, if you can get a ride at the Harbor Mountain Trailhead. It can also be done as a roundtrip hike, if you have the time and energy.

Getting there: The trail for the Harbor Mountain hike begins at the end of Harbor Mountain Road. The drive is 4 miles north of Sitka along Halibut Point Road. Turn right onto Harbor Mountain Road and wind up 5 miles to the trailhead.

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Food and water
  • Camera
  • Light jacket
  • Bear spray/whistle (fresh paw prints and droppings seen on the trail)
  • Binoculars
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Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Point-to-Point

Distance:

6 Miles

Elev. Gain:

800 Feet

Features:

Forest
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Added by Michael Gabbert

Minnesotan living in Seattle. Email: mjgabbert@gmail.com

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