Are you ready for adventure? Do you get excited about historical sites? Lace up your boots because we’re going to take a walk through time. Follow these trails to find the most extraordinary ruins in Alaska. Visit these pieces of history and you will be imagining a life long ago while enjoying some fresh air and exercise. These 10 trails will lead you to sites where you can explore the Alaska of the past. Alaska has gone through many changes and there are pieces of history left behind from long ago settlements to gold rush towns and WWII battlefields, these places will teach you about how life was for Alaskans of the past.
1. Taku Harbor Trail (Juneau)
Take a boat 22 miles southeast of Juneau to the beautiful Taku Harbor. There is an easy trail from the boat ramp around the edge of the bay to the ruins. Hudson Bay trading post was established in the mid 19th century, and then later a cannery was built in its place. You can explore the several homes, bunkhouses, and the old pier which are found throughout the area. Among the ruins, try to identify the various equipment pieces used in the canning process. You'll never forget this excursion.
2. Lake Gertrude Trail (Kodiak)
This trail follows the edge of Lake Gertrude through the mossy and verdant Kodiak coastal forest. Located in Fort Abercrombie State Historic Park, the forest hike ends in a collection of WWII bunkers and weapons, long ago rusted by the constant sea breeze. Watch the ocean for boats from the ruined bunkers and imagine a very different time while enjoying the beauty of the Kodiak coast. Watch closely and you may see a whale.
3. Gold Cord Lake Trail (Hatcher Pass)
This moderate 1.7 mile trail leads to the ruins of the Independence Mine. The mine was closed in 1951 and most of it has fallen into well maintained ruins. Hatcher Pass is a picturesque place to imagine life in the mining camp days. Follow the signs to take a self-guided interpretive tour through the mine camp. The manager's house will give you a peek into the upper class life while the bunk house will show you how the workers lived. Spend the day here with the whole family (even the dog). You will have a wonderful, and educational, time.
4. Treadwell Mine Trail (Douglas Island)
This trail winds from the shore of the island into the dense forest. Located on the southeastern corner of Douglas Island, the ruins of an old mine are sinking into the coastal wetlands. Rusted parts and the dock from the long gone Treadwell Mine dot the trail. Prior to its closure in 1922, Treadwell was at one time the largest gold mine in the world. Spend a day wandering the vast footprint of this giant of industry, now in ruins.
5. Katmai Coast Trail (King Salmon)
The Katmai Coast Trail leads you along the shore where settlements have been found dated to 7000 years ago. A frequent spot for archaeological digs, there are several Archaeology Districts in the area. Visitors are advised to keep their eyes peeled in case they discover something of their own. The area is also crawling with Coastal Brown Bears, so be careful out there, bring bear spray and make a lot of noise.
6. Fort Egbert Trail (Eagle)
Fort Egbert was in operation from 1899-1911. Enjoy learning about the collection of weapons and buildings left behind after the Fort was no longer needed. Take a walk through the village of Eagle, past the ruins, and down to the mighty Yukon River for a complete Eagle experience.
7. Wagon Road Trail (McCarthy)
Travel to McCarthy, a remote and fascinating town, to see the epic ruins of the Kennicott Mine. Once a huge copper mining operation, Kennicott Mine closed in 1938 and now houses historic tours and information. You can spend days exploring the ruins of the mining operation and the surrounding glaciers.
8. Portage Pass Trail (Whittier)
The Buckner Building was once the largest building in Alaska, and now lies in ruin in Whittier, about 60 miles south of Anchorage. This easy trail leads along a mountain valley to view Portage Glacier and back up to the Buckner Building. The building was built to house soldiers after WWII. It is now abandoned, but historically noteworthy in Alaska and beyond.
9. Alpine Historical Park (Sutton)
The historic Sutton Coal Washing Plant was used by the Navy 1920-22. Rich with historical information, the ruins of this coal mine are fascinating to explore. See the rusted mechanisms used to extract coal, oil, gold and copper from the site in the 1920's. The amazing views haven't changed, although the facility lays in ruin. The grounds include very detailed historical information and beautiful park for a picnic
10. Kiska Island (Aleutian chain)
Hike through an amazingly intact WWII battlefield on this remote island in the Aleutian chain. Kiska Island is dotted with lakes formed by WWII bombing attacks in 1942. Kiska Island is a National Historic Landmark (NHL) and the Japanese Occupation Site is one of eight World War II Landmarks in Alaska. You can visit the island and the ruins of the battlefield, the fort and the weather station that was the source of the attack. Kiska Island is remote and uninhabited, but known as one of the most well preserved battlefields of WWII,
Stretch your legs, see a little more of Alaska, and investigate some ancient ruins. Tell us about your adventures in the comments below.