Skagway’s location at the end of the Lynn Canal makes it a prime location for hiking and getting back to nature. Going out for a stroll can be one of the most peaceful things to do and, after all, is one of the best ways to explore Skagway on your own!
If you’re like most visitors, you’ll arrive on a cruise ship with limited time in port and lots of options for things to do. Luckily, plenty of Skagway’s hikes are well within reach even if you only have a couple of hours. Check out this list of Skagway’s Best Short Hikes, ranked from easiest to most challenging. Get outside, help keep your Alaska excursions cheap, and find the amazing viewpoints and nature that Skagway has to offer.
- Difficulty: 1 out of 5
- Time Needed to Complete Hike: 1-2 Hours
- Distance Covered: 1-2 Miles Round Trip
- Elevation Gain: 100 ft.
This short hike takes you just outside of town and lets you look back at the ships in port. Head one block off of Broadway Street toward the water and follow Main Street all the way around to the airport. Once past the small building that serves as the airport’s terminal, you’ll see a metal footbridge leading over the Skagway River. Take that bridge and turn left at the end of it. (If you wish to pay your respects to some of Skagway’s dearly departed family pets, you can turn right instead and follow a path to the pet cemetery.)
Once you’ve turned left, you’ll be able to follow a well-marked and wide path all the way down to Yakutania Point. You’ll know you’ve arrived when the path mostly dead-ends at a small picnic shelter, with an outside picnic table and a fire pit on the rocky shoreline.
That is the end of the “hike,” but the best views are obtained by either climbing out onto the rocks just beyond the picnic shelter or up the rocks to the right of the picnic table and fire pit.
From there, you have a brilliant, unobstructed view of Skagway Harbor and the Lynn Canal. On clear days, you can see the Chilkat Mountains, where some of the world’s best heli-skiing is.
Lower Reid Falls and Gold Rush Cemetery
- Difficulty: 1 out of 5
- Time Needed: 2 Hours
- Distance: 4 Miles Round Trip
- Elevation Gain: 50 ft.
This one barely qualifies as a hike, but more as one of the quick and easy scenic things to do in Skagway, since the majority of it takes place before you ever leave the pavement. But the waterfall payoff at the end helps it make the list. Beautiful natural sights but without the formal tour, making it a great way to enjoy Skagway on your own!
Walk one block off Broadway. Head out of town on State Street, all the way down to the big red White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad buildings. As State Street curves around and becomes the Klondike Highway, you’ll see a gravel road on the right that leads you around and through the railroad yard. Continue following the road across the railroad tracks.
The cemetery is down a short path through the woods off of the parking area. Another short trail leads you to Lower Reid Falls. This is the only way to see Lower Reid Falls, as there is no trail from Upper Reid to Lower Reid.
Please be aware of vehicles and trains as you hike to the cemetery and falls!
- Difficulty: 2 out of 5
- Time Needed: 2 Hours
- Distance: 2 Miles Round Trip
- Elevation Gain: 100 ft.
If you’ve already made your way out to “The Point,” i.e. Yakutania, this hike is a lovely little add-on. Follow the directions to Yakutania Point until you reach the end of the dirt road. There is a bathroom here and the path becomes more rocky. Turn left and head up the hill, following the path along the coastline until you come to another small picnic shelter and fire pit.
Smuggler’s Cove is slightly more sheltered than Yakutania Point, so on a windy day, it might prove to be more peaceful. There’s a great view of the Lynn Canal, but Skagway Harbor is hidden by the landscape.
To return to Skagway, simply head back the way you came or head up the grassy slope to the dirt road. If you turn left where the road splits, you’ll end up on Dyea Road. Turn right and you’ll end up back near the footbridge at the Skagway River.
The outlet on Dyea Road will lead you to the trailhead for AB Mountain, a far more strenuous full-day hike that covers 10 miles round trip and 5000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re an active outdoors person, you may find this option to be a perfect way to have fun and adventure in Skagway without a guide.
Lower Dewey Lake
- Difficulty: 3 out of 5
- Time Needed: 1-2 Hours
- Distance: 0.9 mile (1.4 km) to Lake; 3.6 miles (5.8 km) Around Lake
- Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
By far the most strenuous of the short hikes, Lower Dewey offers great views of Skagway from above. To get to the trailhead, follow the railroad tracks from 1st and turn up the steep gravel road on your right. There is an information board at the base of the gravel road. Head up the road about 100 yards until you see a set of stairs on your right. Take the stairs and follow that path to the top.
There is a great resting area right before the first switchback. The trees open up and provide a great view of Skagway Harbor. From here, the hike continues up as switchbacks the whole way. This less than a mile hike covers 500 feet of elevation gain, so it will definitely get your heart pumping.
Once you reach the lake, you can head around it in either direction, or just stop at the shore and enjoy the water. Heading left will take you to the trail for Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls. Heading right will take you to the trail for Sturgill’s Landing.
The lake is calm and serene, and there are several picnic spots around the water’s edge. The mosquitoes can be terrible in the summer, so definitely wear some bug spray (an essential expenditure!).
If you’re feeling brave, you can attempt a swim in the lake, one of the most fun free activities in Skagway for bold adventurers! Be forewarned, the lake is glacially fed, and even in the middle of summer, the water temperature hovers around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sturgil’s Landing Hike
- Difficulty: 4 out of 5
- Time Needed: 4-5 Hours
- Distance: 7 Miles Round Trip
- Elevation Gain: 500 ft. Twice (out and back)
If you have a little more time and a decent fitness level, this one offers great forest hiking and awesome views of the Lynn Canal. To get there, follow the directions to Lower Dewey Lake, turning right when you reach the lake. Follow the path to the south end of the lake and turn right when the trail splits again. The wooded trail is quite uneven and the hike is definitely not suitable for those who are unsteady on their feet.
The trail turns sharply right where the new trail diverges from the old one. Both paths will get you to Sturgil’s Landing, but the new one to the right is safer. Adventurous souls looking for more strenuous activities can continue straight onto the old trail, but it may be overgrown or not clearly marked. The old trail also travels along narrow ridges and cliffs and down very rocky, unstable hillsides. Take extra caution if you choose to go this way!
Either way, you’ll end up at Sturgil’s Landing. Uphill from the water is an outhouse and a couple of picnic tables. But down at the water’s edge are great views of the Lynn Canal. If you’ve got a keen eye, you can even spot remains of the sawmill at the south end of the landing. And a nice picnic outside, for a break from meals on the cruise ship, can be fun and peaceful.
More Skagway Hikes
Interested in more challenging hikes to do on your own? The National Park Service has you covered with a list of Skagway’s longer hikes.
Looking to explore Skagway with the guidance and knowledge of a local? Put on your hiking shoes and join an expert guide with these Skagway hiking tours:
- Skagway Adventure Hike
- Chilkoot Trail Hike & Float
- Skagway Triple Adventure
- Haines Bike, Hike, & Brew
Continue your Skagway travel planning with our helpful guides: