When you arrive at the docks from your Alaska cruise ship, hiking in Skagway may not be the first item on your itinerary. But Skagway is home to more than a dozen beautiful day and multi-day hikes within a 5-minute walk of downtown. See what lies beyond the gift shops and electric bike rentals in our list of personal favorite hikes below.
Skagway Gold Rush Cemetery & Lower Reid Falls
Difficulty: Very Easy
Duration: 5 minutes from the cemetery
If you enjoy history and a great walk to a beautiful waterfall, this hike is for you! Very easy for all ages and levels, visit Skagway’s gold rush cemetery and find the burials of the two men that defined Skagway’s lawless past: Frank Reid and the infamous Jefferson "Soapy” Randolph Smith (buried technically 3 feet outside of the cemetery.)
A minute’s hike away from these hallowed grounds, you can find a gushing waterfall. Chill on the slicked rocks by the river with a refreshing mist to cool you off and bask in the white noise of nature. It’s approximately a 5-minute hike to complete the loop that adjoins the graveyard and waterfall.
Difficulty: Very Easy
Duration: 10 minutes from bridge
For the best view in the least amount of time, head to Yakutania Point. Just past the Skagway airport and across the iron bridge that crosses Skagway River, turn left past the bridge onto a well maintained, flat, and well-trafficked trail. Traverse a short coastline, navigate some jagged rocks, and you’ll enter a promontory overlooking the bay and the town. Be on the lookout for bearded seals and albatrosses. Pack sausages and marshmallows to make use of the communal fire pit. A very easy 10-minute hike one-way. If you are in the mood and the weather allows, pack a lunch and bring a picnic!
Lower Dewey Lake
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Duration: 30 minutes uphill to the lake
Lower lake is the local’s after work and weekend favorite 30-min hike up a short incline to a beautiful and refreshing lake nestled in the mountains. Find the trail head behind Pullen Pond near the train tracks (accessed via 2nd Street.) Halfway up the mountain, the trial flattens and the pines give way to an opening where you can get a beautiful view of the lake. Make sure to keep walking until the clearing as the best view is at the far end of the lake On sunny days, bring a towel and take a dip!
Duration: 6-8 hour day hike
If you are looking for a rigorous hike that leads to the most rewarding view of Skagway and its surroundings, AB is a must-do hike, easily doable in a full 6-8 hour day. Classified as fairly difficult, but nothing technical, the entrance is along the Dyea Road. Beginning under the canopy, you eventually make it above tree line with a stunning view of the Denver Glacier, the backside of Harding Glacier and the entire city of Skagway and Dyea in one breathtaking panoramic vista. The trail can be narrow and steep at points and hiking boots are recommended. If hiking in August, make sure to keep an eye out for wild blueberries that ripen along the path, the perfect hiking treat!
Upper Dewey Lake + Devil’s Punchbowl
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Duration: approx 2 hours uphill to the lake
Did you feel like Lower Dewey Lake was an insult to your hiking pride? Then ratchet up the difficulty by continuing past Lower Dewey in the direction of its big brother. At about 7 times the elevation of Lower Dewey, Upper Dewey will prove to be a bit more of a challenge, featuring significantly more winding switchbacks and dropping temperatures. But the rewards will arguably be greater, as Upper Dewey Lake makes for one of the most picturesque hikes in Skagway. The Lake is nestled between the snowcapped tips of two mountains. Listen closely, and you may hear the whistling of prairie voles chatting to each other from opposite ends of the lake. If you feel like Upper Dewey wasn’t enough of a challenge, then Devil’s Punchbowl is an extra .8 miles upward trek away leading to a full panorama view of the Upper Lynn Canal and Skagway.
While these five hikes are the most popular Skagway day hikes, if you are looking for further outdoor activities in the Skagway area, don't forget these additional hikes (i) Smuggler's Cove (Skagway) (ii) Lost Lake (Dyea) (iii) International Falls (a quick 20 minute drive up the Klondike Highway) (iv) Goat Lake (also along the Klondike Highway near US Customs (v) Sturgill's (Skagway) (vi) Face Mountain (not for the faint of heart) and of course (vii) Chilkoot Trail (a 3-5 day 33 mile hike beginning in Dyea and ending in Canada - the most famous of them all!)