Bear Mountain via Beaver Lake Trail

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

1 thought on “Bear Mountain via Beaver Lake Trail”

  1. Hey Matt,
    I’ve been in Sitka since April and have hit all the major trails in the area, including to the top of arrowhead and the Baranof cross island trail. I’m wondering if you can get back to me on a route up Bear Mountain. How heavy is the underbrush this time of year? Do you attempt a straight shot from the beaver lake trail?

    Marc Brancaccio

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