Haines is a breathtakingly scenic community. The scenery comes from the glacier terrain that formed the area many years ago. Haines is surrounded by mountains and water. Rising high above the town are the Takinsha Mountains and Chilkat Range to the south, northwest is the Chilkat River Bald Eagle Preserve. This river is located in an immense valley carved out long ago by a glacier. To the east is the Lynn Canal, one of the longest and deepest fjords in the world. The fjord measures 60 miles long and more then 2,000 feet deep. Unlike most towns in Southeast Alaska, you can reach Haines by road as well as ferry. The Haines Highway begins in Canada at Haines Junction, along the Alaska Highway, and ends in Haines.
Haines was named in honor of Francina Haines of the Presbyterian Home Missions the first missionary to the area in 1879
The first known meeting between white men and Tlingit took place in 1741 when a Russian ship anchored near Haines to start the fur trade. In 1892, Jack Dalton established a toll road on the Tlingit trade route into the interior to cash in on gold-seekers and others heading north into Canada. Parts of the Dalton Trail are now the Haines Highway.
In 1902, ongoing border disputes between the U.S. and Canada provided the justification for an army post in Alaska. The white buildings of Fort William H. Seward still stand and are a distinctive landmark of Haines.
Alaska State Parks has five state parks in the Haines area:
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve was created by the State of Alaska in June of 1982. The preserve was established to protect and perpetuate the world's largest concentration of Bald Eagles and their critical habitat. It also sustains and protects the natural salmon runs and allows for traditional uses; provided such uses do not adversely affect preserve resources. The Preserve consists of 48,000 acres of river bottom land of the Chilkat, Kleheni, and Tsirku Rivers. The boundaries were designated to include only areas important to eagle habitation. Virtually every portion of the preserve is used by eagles at some time during the year.
The river "flats" of the Chilkat River along the Haines Highway between miles 18 and 24 are the main viewing area for eagle watchers and considered critical habitat in the preserve. Bald eagles are attracted to the area by the availability of spawned-out salmon and open waters in late fall and winter.
The natural phenomena responsible for five miles of open water on the Chilkat River during freezing months is called an "alluvial fan reservoir". The Tsirku fan, which is a fan-shaped accumulation of gravel, rock, sand, and glacial debris, at the confluence of the Tsirku, Kleheni, and Chilkat Rivers acts as a large water reservoir.
During the warmer spring, summer and early fall seasons, water from snow and melted glacial ice flows into the alluvial fan. The fan receives water faster than it can flow out, creating a huge reservoir of water. When winter arrives, cold weather sets in and surrounding waters freeze. However, water in this large reservoir remains from 10 to 20 degrees (F) above surrounding water temperatures. This warmer water "percolates" into the Chilkat River and keeps it from freezing.
Five species of salmon spawn in these and other nearby streams and tributaries. The salmon runs begin in the summer and continue on through late fall or early winter. The salmon die shortly after spawning and it is their carcasses which provide large quantities of food for the eagles. This combination of open water and large amounts of food bring large concentrations of eagles into the Chilkat Valley beginning by early October and lasting through February. For more information. More facility information
Chilkat State Park is divided into 2 separate units, the primary unit is located approximately seven miles south of Haines on Mud Bay Road, and is the location of the parks main facilities. A 31-site primitive campground, picnic area and shelter, salt water boat launch, 3 ocean front walk-in tent sites, and the Seduction Point Trailhead are all adjacent to the log cabin information center and scenic observation deck. The public facility area is in a mixed forest of evergreens and deciduous trees on the Chilkat Inlet. The boat launch provides access to the inlet for sea kayaking, boating, and salt water fishing, including the run of king salmon in early June, and has a nearby parking lot for vehicles with boat trailers or oversized day use vehicles. The information cabin and deck offers incredible views of Rainbow and Davidson glaciers and the entire inlet. Spotting scopes are provided during staffed hours to help view marine wildlife, bears and goats across the inlet, and a closer view of the glaciers. The Seduction Point Trail is an approximately seven mile long trail (14 mile roundtrip) to the end of the peninsula, providing a relatively level and easy hike winding back and forth between the woods and the shoreline. Picturesque mountain and inlet scenery is common along the trail, with possible wildlife viewing opportunities as well. More facility information.
The northern unit is accessed one mile south of town at the end of beach road at the Battery Point Trailhead. The Battery Point Trail is an easy approximately one mile forest trail which emerges out onto the gravel beach near Kalgaya Point along the shore of the Chilkoot Inlet side of the peninsula. Battery Point is approximately 1/3 of a mile past Kalgaya Point and can be reached by traversing a primitive shoreline trail. For those ready for more of a challenge, there is the Mount Riley Trail, which can be accessed south of town at approximately 3 mile Mud Bay Rd. This trail has quite a bit of vertical rise to it, but the reward is a sensational view of the entire area overlooking Haines to the north and both Chilkat and Chilkoot inlets on either side. The trail continues down the opposite side and connects to the Battery Point trail just before it reaches the shore of Kalgaya Point.
Chilkat State Park Map
Chilkoot Lake is ten miles northeast of Haines, taking Lutak and Chilkoot River roads, or five miles past the ferry terminal. The park is at the south end of Chilkoot Lake, near the outlet of the lake to the Chilkoot River. Chilkoot River Corridor courtesy. Park Facilities include an 80-site campground, picnic shelter, and boat launch. More facility infomation. The campground sits amid a beautiful stand of Sitka spruce.
The park and surrounding area offers some of the best salmon fishing in Southeast Alaska, with four salmon runs, starting in mid-June and ending in mid-October. Because of the salmon spawning in the river and at this end of the lake, this area is also a bear highway. Bears come down from the tundra to feast on the salmon. Please learn proper bear/human etiquette - this protects both you and the bears. See our "Bears and You" web page for more information on bear safety.
Mosquito Lake is 27 miles northwest of Haines off the Haines Highway. This quiet dayuse area is nestled next to Mosquito Lake, in a Sitka spruce and Western hemlock forest. This is a passively managed facility.
Portage Cove State Recreation Site sits on the water's edge near downtown Haines and offers a wonderful view of the Inlet and surrounding mountains. There is a handful of campsites, but only for bicycle or walk-in camping.
This is a hiker/biker only campground. No overnight parking of vehicles is allowed at this site. Thus, it is a meeting ground for adventurers. Backpackers and bicyclists meet here to compare notes, swap maps and info about the road ahead and make friends. More facility information.
To find this campground, follow the Haines Highway through town and continue as it hooks to the left and along the harbor and becomes Beach Road. Follow the road up the hill and look for the campground on the left as you begin to descend the hill.
The campground sits right on a grassy bluff overlooking the inlet. There are a number of picnic tables and fire rings. There is also a large steel pole structure to hang your food bag.
◇ Fire - Campers are asked to use camp stoves and build fires in the fire pits or grills provided.
◇ Hikers - Travel with at least one companion. Leave word with someone where you are going and when to expect you back. Wind, wetness, and exhaustion add up to hypothermia. Be prepared to combat exposure by carrying rain gear, extra food and clothes, even when you don't expect to need them.
◇ Bears - Bear frequent park areas and are attracted by food odors. Clean fish in the river and keep food in your vehicle - never in the tent. A clean campsite is a good precaution. When hiking make noise to alert bears of your presence.
◇ Fishing - With the onset of fishing season, fishermen should inform themselves of Alaska State fishing regulations. Sport Fishing is not allowed within 300 feet of a fish weir. Snagging - hooking a fish other than in the mouth, is not allowed in fresh water. See the Dept. of Fish and Game web site for more information on fishing regulations.