Getting ThereIt takes only a few minutes to walk to the main trailhead from downtown Sitka. From the Russian Bishop's House, walk six blocks up Baranof Street to its end. The well-marked trailhead, with space for a few cars, is on the right. For a good street map that shows the trailhead, click on this link.
Gavan Hill TrailSitka Cross Trail. Crossing over this, continue more steeply (often on wooden stairs) through beautiful rain forest. After about a mile you'll come to a viewing platform, elevation 1400 feet, with a nice outlook over the harbor. The trail continues to the main ridgeline of Gavan Hill (2000 feet), and then wends its way up the crest to the summit table, another 600 feet higher. Views get better and better as you go. The 2500-foot ascent from trailhead to summit will take an average hiker a couple of hours one way, excluding stops to enjoy the scenery.
This trail may be the most highly engineered trail in Alaska--boardwalks, stairs, and bridges make the footing solid and dry. Fortunately, it's been built with a nice eye for terrain, and it's varied and interesting throughout.
When to ClimbGavan Hill is a good destination year-round. Being close to the warm waters of Sitka Sound, it can be snow-free for much of the winter.
CampingCamping is waterless but largely unrestricted on Gavan Ridge. There is a basic trail shelter on the Gavan Hill Trail a short distance north of the summit, usable on a first-come, first served basis. No permits are required.
For camping and hosteling options in the town of Sitka, go here.
External LinksGreat info on the Gavan Hill forest
Smaller plant and bird life on Gavan Hill
Sitka Conservation Society
Tongass National Forest
Topo Map (trail is not shown)
View of Gavan Hill from below