Granite Bay State Marine Park is located on the northwest corner of Esther Island about 25 miles from Whittier. This pristine park shows little evidence of human impact. The park includes two bays, protective islands, muskeg and old growth forest uplands. Most of the shoreline is steep granite cliffs, boulders and slabs. The surrounding hills provide excellent hiking and climbing with views in all directions. Many lakes and ponds dot the uplands. Tange Lake drains into the head of the northern arm and has been stocked with rainbow trout.
Anchorage is excellent in both bays and can be used by many boats at once. A mooring buoy is located between the bays, behind the islands. There are no suitable campsites. Two beaches of small pebbles, which are moderately exposed, afford camping spots during low tide cycles at the southern point of the mouth of the bay. A tent platform is located on the northernmost island at the mouth of the north bay. The platform on the northeast edge of the muskeg should be returned to standing position after use so as not to damage the vegetation. There are other tent sites on heather or in the beach grass. There is water at the head of each bay and from outlets from lakes. Boaters should be aware of a reef that extends nearly a mile offshore, just south of the mouth of the southern bay.
This marine park is located on the southern end of Esther Island, including Lake and Quillian Bays. Lake Bay houses one of the world's largest fish hatcheries while Quillian Bay remains relatively undisturbed. Quillian Bay provides anchorages behind the larger island. You can also carefully navigate to the head of the bay for an anchorage. A hike along the eastern edge of the lagoon and through a low, forested pass brings you to Esther Lake. The land is too wet and uneven for camping.
The Wally H. Noerenberg Fish Hatchery is owned and operated by the Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation (PWSAC). PWSAC is a private, non-profit corporation operating under a special permit with Alaska State Parks. The facility offers tours to visitors free of charge. Please check in with the Hatchery office before exploring the hatchery grounds. Fresh water can be obtained from the floating dock near the hatchery. Mooring buoys in front of the hatchery may be used if available.
The park offers not only a protected anchorage but two easily accessible scenic overlooks. Esther Lake and the Esther Falls Overlook are two of the outstanding features of the Lake Bay area. Fishing is good but sport fishermen should avoid getting in the way of the daily operations of the hatchery. Sportfish regulations prohibit fishing within 300 feet of the holding pens. During commercial openings the fishing fleet crowds the area and you are advised to stay clear of the nets and boat traffic. During the height of the fish run, black bears can be seen near the hatchery.
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Bettles Bay State Marine Park is an excellent anchorage, well-protected from winds and with a good soft holding bottom.
Entrance into the lagoon is northeast of the island. Sailboats or other deep draft vessels may have problems with the entrance at minus tides. Attractions include an old stamp press and gold mine located just southeast of the park. The park affords views of the scenic Bettles Glacier. The uplands consists of old growth forest, alders in the avalanche chutes, and muskegs.
Camping is poor due to the wetlands. There are campsites, but they flood on high tide cycles. One is just west of the stream in the northern corner of the lagoon. The other is located north of the stream coming from the ruins. There are better campsites on the southern beaches near the mouth of Bettles Bay. The marshland south of the park is sensitive habitat for the many waterfowl species that nest there and should not be disturbed.
Horseshoe Bay on Latouche Island is located three miles northeast of
the new town of Chenega Bay. The old town of Latouche was located just
northeast of Horseshoe Bay. Active and historic mine plots are located
around the park. This bay is one of the only anchorages left with public
uplands in this area of the sound. Campsites are along the margin of
the large rolling bog north of the bay. Stunted spruce and alder run
along the bluff north of the bay with occasional beaches creating scenic
views of Latouche Passage and the islands beyond. All lands surrounding
the park are private.
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