Sitka Trails

January 18, 2014

Herring Cove to Beaver Lake

Filed under: Beaver Lake,Herring Cove Trail — Matt Goff @ 9:04 pm

This week saw some heavy rains, and I heard about some flooding occurring on Herring Cove trail. I had seen some significant trail erosion that occurred after a warm rain on snow even back in December, but it sounded like this was more significant than that, and I was curious to check it out.

Trail gravels had eroded out in several places along the first uphill section. It also appeared that someone had taken a chainsaw to a tree that fell across the trail and may have been diverting some of the water from the falls adjacent to the trail along the significant uphill portion, but the large-ish rock steps were pretty much all still in place. From that point up until approaching the bridge before the waterfall view point, there wasn’t too much evidence of erosion. Shortly before the bridge, a new (and active) stream channel had removed a section of trail (see photos below), though it was pretty easy to pick our way around it. It appeared as though something further up had at least partially blocked off a channel, and the diverted water found its way down a different route that happened to include part of the trail.

The hike around Beaver Lake was uneventful, though it was interesting to see that the re-routed trail (from where the blow down/mass wasting occurred) held up pretty well. It was also interesting to see the large crane actively moving as we walked. We hiked down a ways along the main Beaver Lake trail (that starts at Sawmill Creek Campground), and found a sign at a bridge saying access was restricted. Based on the wear patterns, it looked like people routinely walked around the bridge, though I’m not sure to what end.

4.9 miles (Herring Cove Trail and and down, Beaver Lake Trail/Loop)

October 9, 2007

Bear Mountain via Beaver Lake Trail

Filed under: Backcountry,Bear Mountain,Beaver Lake — Matt Goff @ 8:20 pm

Beaver Lake to Herring Cove from Bear Mountain

Labor Day dawned nice and sunny, so I decided to hike up Bear Mountain. I have only been up Bear Mountain twice before, once in late June or early July 1995 by way of Beaver Lake up to the summit ridge (but not the summit), and the second time just a little way up beyond the treeline in August 2004.

I borrowed the neighbor’s car to drive to the Beaver Lake trailhead. I wanted to do the Beaver Lake loop while hiking, so I took the slightly longer route along the lake shore to where I planned to leave the trail on the way up I just had a short section of shoreline and the cross-muskeg section to do on the way down. There were quite a few other people that I passed while headed up between 11am and noon, but I came down fairly late and did not see anyone else.

It took me a half an hour to get from the trailhead to where I left the trail. From there, it was about an hour and 15 minutes more to the treeline. I took a pretty good pace, pushing about as fast as I was comfortable with on the steep terrain. I took several short breaks, but tried to limit them to only a couple of minutes. Once I reached the treeline, I slowed down a bit and enjoyed the scenery. It was late enough in the season that there were not that many flowers blooming, so I was not too distracted by them.

I ended up taking roughly the same route as I had in 1995. From about 3500 feet up, things were much different, however. In early summer, the upper elevations were still covered by a single large snowfield. This time there were a few much smaller snow patches, with significant sections of rock and gravel.

It was in these upper sections that I found interesting alpine plants (see also: Bear Mountain Asters, Bear Mountain Saxifrages, and other Bear Mountain flowers). I also saw several tufts of Mountain Goat hair and some Mountain Goat tracks. When I looked down the other side of the ridge, I could saw three Mountain Goats resting on the snow well below me. (See my natural history notes from that day for more observations.)

It took me quite a bit less time getting down, though I do not remember for sure how long. I think it was about 2 hours from the 3500 foot level back to the trailhead, but it might have been a little longer.

Beaver Lake trail was in good condition. Getting up Bear Mountain was steep and fairly muddy in places. Route finding is relatively easy (for a back country route), as there are qiute a few flags marking the way. That said, it’s a very steep and strenuous hike with little more than a game trail to follow. I would not recommend it for those who don’t enjoy that sort of thing.

Bear Mountain Summit Ridge

Bear Mountain View

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