Skagway’s location at the end of the Lynn Canal makes it a prime location for hiking and getting back to nature. Getting out for a stroll can be one of the most peaceful things to do in Skagway Alaska and, after all, is one of the ways to truly do Alaska excursions cheap!
If you’re like most visitors, you’ll arrive on a cruise ship with limited time in port and lots of things to do in Skagway Alaska. 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.
This short hike takes you just outside of town and let’s you look back at the ships in port.
Head 1 block off of Broadway 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.)
Difficulty of Hike: 1 out of 5
Time Needed to Complete Hike: 1-2 Hours
Distance Covered: 1-2 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: 100 ft.
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
This one barely qualifies as a hike, but more as one of the quick and easy things to do in Skagway Alaska, 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: Talk about Alaska excursions cheap!
Go 1 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.
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Time Needed: 2 Hours
Distance: 4 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: 50 ft.
Please be aware of vehicles and trains as you hike to the cemetery and falls!
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 one of the more peaceful things to do in Skagway Alaska. 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 outdoorsperson, you may find this option to be a perfect way to have fun and keep your Alaska excursions cheap.
Difficulty: 2 out of 5
Time Needed: 2 Hours
Distance: 2 Miles Round Trip
Elevation Gain: 100 ft.
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 even for those trying to do Alaska excursions cheap!).
If you’re feeling brave, you can attempt a swim in the lake, one of the most fun things to do in Skagway Alaska 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.
Bonus Things to Do in Skagway Alaska: Sturgil’s Landing Hike
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 wen 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 strenous things to do in Skagway Alaska 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 a fun and calm way to do Alaska excursions cheap.
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’re interested in other things to do in Skagway Alaska, you want to keep your Alaska excursions cheap, and you’re up for some longer hikes, the National Park Service has you covered here.
If you enjoyed reading these tips on keeping your Alaska excursions cheap, you may want to check out our guide to Free and Cheap Things to Do in Skagway.