If you're planning on taking a cruise to Alaska, you'll notice the cut rates in September...while it may look like a great deal, you should know, in Sitka, the weather gets very stormy at this time...
Last year, halfway into the month we had a cruise ship scheduled to arrive at 7am and was supposed to spend the whole day in town. However, it arrived 7 hours late due to the rough sea the night before--up to 30' seas in the open water. The stories we heard were incredible. Someone was bringing the desserts out for dinner and a large cake among other things slid right off the deck into the water. Dishes broke, silverware was lost People were falling off their beds and they were very ill the next morning...too afraid to take the tender to shore. We had winds on land that exceeded 60mph...but it was much worse where there was no protection.
This of course also applies if you're thinking about taking the ferry up from Prince Rupert, BC or even Bellingham, WA. It's a very unpredictable time of year. The cruise prices may seem like incredible deals, but you're getting very close to the off season...many things aren't even open and the weather could very well be...sickening. Literally.
In the late summer, bears are more common on the trails than they are in the early summer, but they are present any time. The Indian River Trail follows right along the bank of the river and in the late summer, the salmon are dying, making a wonderfully easy meal for the bears...but all trails have been known to have bears. They much rather avoid people, of course...
There are also some other tips to follow when hiking the trails in Sitka
1) Keep a dog on a leash. Last summer, a local veternarian took his dog on the trail, let him off the least and it went after a bear. The dog was attacked and killed.
2) Plan your hike so there is still plenty of daylight by the time you return. The bears are more common in the evening and very early morning. In the summer, this shouldn't be a problem--the sun doesn't set until very late at night
3) Most of the trails include raised planks so you don't trample the muskeg or get soaking wet. However, these planks get very very slippery--you'll probably slide across a few of them. Wear proper footwear when hiking--and pants that you don't mind getting very muddy
4) If there are bears present on the trail, there will be signs stating when, how many and where they were seen. A trail may even be closed for this reason. Also, you may see signs that say "evidence of bears" or something. That doesn't mean one was actually seen--it just means there was something that looked like a bed, scratched up logs, overly trampled brush, etc.
5) Make a lot of noise on the trail, talking, rattling change or keys...anything. Just make your presence known.
There are really no problems in Sitka that you'll face other than the rain, but I feel I am obligated to warn you about a fellow traveler who has the right of way in Sitka.
Now, okay...you may thing I'm crazy but these are no ordinary slugs. The banana slugs in Sitka are giants and you don't want to step on them. They are wonderful little gardeners and are great for the balance of the rainforest.
There is even a program offered at Sitka National Historical Park about them and literature. So please look out of them on trails in the forest...you don't need to wait for them to cross--you'd be there all day--just don't step on them.
Is this the first tip you've read on slugs?
Might be common sense to most, but when outdoors in bear season (late Spring through Fall), be sure to keep in mind that bears are most dangerous when startled or with cubs. Make noise frequently when in their territory to let them know where you are so they can steer clear (whistles work, as well as talking loudly, etc.) These are beautiful creatures, but best seen from a safe distance!
Keep in mind: this ain't Yellowstone National Park, where you can drive through all the amusement. The backcountry can be dangerous, so always have a guide with you.
Some trails are very confusing and hard to follow.
Don't overestimate yourself: adventure travel around here is not for firstimers.
Devil's Club is omnipresent in the coastal forest. It's large leaves, grow up to a foot in diameter. The stalks are fitted with poisoness sharp spines that fester and make a painful sore if they become embedded in your skin. Wear long pants for all coastal hiking.
When fishing in Alaska shop around and stay with the locals they know how to fish the waters not the summer Sitkens