OverviewDue to the amount of tourist and seasonal worker traffic through Ketchikan, Alaska; Deer Mountain is likely one of the most summited mountains in the state. Great views can be had from the summit and the hike is not overly difficult other than navigating some steep snowfields near the top of the mountain most months of the year. The Deer Mountain trail switchbacks steeply up the south and west faces of the mountain under a dense forest canopy offering very little view of Ketchikan and the inside passage below. Once the summit is made however, expect a wonderful panoramic view of SE Alaska and Ketchikan if conditions allow in typically rainy southeast alaska. Expect to see lots of bald eagles, ravens, if your lucky mountain goats, and possibly a black bear although they tend to hang in close around the dump. Wolves are also active in this area, though are rarely seen.
One way it is 3.5 miles to summit from trailhead with about 2500 feet of elevation gain. If you start walking from downtown expect 3000 feet of elevation gain and roughly five miles of travel. The Deer Mountain Trail is very rocky and wet, consider wearing stiff soled shoes with good traction and bringing raingear. Eighty percent of the hike as mentioned is under a dense forest canopy. Around 2600 feet the forest opens up into alpine and muskeg where the trail levels out some before climbing steeply up the summit cone.
With its proximity to town and small alpine clearings Deer Mountain offers some snowboarding potential, especially to locals lacking better locations.
Getting ThereOn the south end of downtown Ketchikan turn NE off of Stedman Street (the main highway) onto Deermount Street. Follow Deermount to a T with Fair Street where you will turn right. Travel a block down Fair St to a stop sign then straight through and then up the hill on Ketchikan Lakes Road towards the city dump. At the top of the hill take a quick left onto gravel and you will see the trailhead for Deer Mountain.
Red TapeDont feed the bears. Be aware there exists a very real possibility of black bear encounter on and around Deer Mountain. The city dump rests at the base of Deer Mountain and is a favorite locale for the bears.
CampingNo camping restrictions exist on Deer Mountain. There is a forest service cabin available for rent just below the summit. The cabin is a small A-frame with two bunks. Abundant alpine clearings above 2800 feet make camping easy, unmaintained firepits exist at the summit and the lower viewpoint. A forest service cabin also exists at blue lake, 2 miles NE of Deer Mountain.
Below: The forest opens up into alpine beneath the summit cone.
Other Nearby Peaks
One easy to reach mountain in the immediate area is Roy Jones Mountain, which can be reached following the Blue Lake trail which takes off to the northeast just under the base of Deer Mountain. Continuing beyond Roy Jones it is possible to connect with the Brown Mountain Road via an arduous ridgewalk, with extreme bushwhacking (think multi-day trek). Spectacular Twin Peaks is another visually prominent mountain along the waterfront that lies to the southeast of Deer Mountain and can be reached from the south end of the main road beyond Herring Bay.
External LinksInformation on Forest Service Cabins
Alaska Journey Website with information about Ketchikan
If you're in Ketchikan you have to try salmon and halibut fishing