OverviewThe Mount Edgecumbe Trail is the standard route for climbing Mount Edgecumbe. The trail begins at Fred's Creek Cabin and continues for roughly 6.4 miles and 2,400 vertical feet to treeline on the slopes of Mount Edgecumbe. From here climbers are asked to use their own route up the final 0.6 miles and 800' to the summit in order to minimize the impact to the fragile alpine environment.
Getting ThereThe Mount Edgecumbe Trail is normally accessed from Sitka and requires a roughly 30-45 minute boat ride from Baranof Island to Kruzof Island. These waters can be rough but wildlife watching is usually great. Charter boats can be hired in Sitka.
To get to the trail head, get dropped off at Fred's Creek Cabin. The cove here has a rocky shoreline and normally requires a dinghy to get to shore. Most locals know how to get to the Cabin.
Route DescriptionThe route is roughly 7 miles from trailhead to summit and gains 3,201'. The forest service shelter is approximately 4 miles from the trailhead and at a very approximate elevation of 1,000'.
When approaching Fred's Creek Cabin, find the trail directly to the left of the cabin (there are several other trails around). Just past the cabin there is a sign saying "Mount Edgecumbe Summit- 7 Miles". Beyond the sign the trail enters some a short stretch of beautiful rainforest. A ravine is crossed on a newly constructed bridge just before leaving the forest and entering the muskeg. On clear days, beautiful views of Edgecumbe can be found here.
Muskeg vegetation dominates the remaining few miles up to the forest service shelter. One finds themselves very thankful for the well established and maintained trail which includes short boardwalks since muskeg can be a nightmare to hike through.
Roughly 4 miles from the trailhead the trail will go over a ridge and drop down a couple of small switch backs as it enters a different drainage. Shortly after the small drop in elevation a side trail leaves the main trail to the hiker's left. This side trail leads roughly 300' to the forest service shelter and there is no sign so it is possible to miss. Right after the shelter trail the main trail crosses a stream without a bridge. This is a good landmark to look for to know if you missed the shelter trail.
Beyond the shelter, the trail crosses the stream and slowly begins to climb up the lower slopes of Edgecumbe. About a 1/4 mile from the shelter trail another side trail leaves the main trail to the hiker's right. This side trail leads to the old shelter which is not nearly as nice as the new one but can be used when the new shelter is full.
The trail above the old shelter side trail continues to gain elevation at an increasing rate. At about 1 mile from the new shelter some tent sites are found to the climber's right. The forest service recommends using these sites to reduce the recreational impacts to the area (Leave NO Trace). From these campsites the trail becomes quite steep and climbers begin gaining elevation at a fast pace.
At roughly 2,400' elevation, the trail reaches treeline. At treeline the trail crosses to the left to gain a ridge. Large wooden markers follow the ridge to aide climbers in low visibily. Climbers, however, are asked not to follow this route unless conditions require the use of the markers. Instead find your own route over the last 0.6 miles to the summit. The forest service is asking climbers to do this to lessen the impact to the alpine environment. Finding a route to the summit should be straight forward from this point in clear conditions.
From the summit on clear days climbers have commanding views of the Sitka Sound and Baranof Island as well as the open Pacific. Some climbers enjoy taking an extra 30-45 minutes to hike around the crater to get different vantage points. Be sure to bring layers, the summit can be very cold and windy as the air whips right off Pacific.
Essential Gear-Good hiking boots
-Rain gear (you can almost guarantee it will rain at some point)
-Sleeping bag (if planning on staying in the shelters or camping)
-Tent (only if planning on camping)