If you are up to it and if the weather is good, this is the route to take. It ascends Mount Ripinski first and then follows the ridge west to Jones Gap. From Jones Gap, the trail continues along the ridge before climbing to the summit of Shakuseyi Peak. The route then drops to Sevenmile Saddle and down to the Sevenmile Saddle Trailhead. This route is 10 miles long and is very spectacular.
Mt Ripinski (foreground) and Mt Sinclair (pointed peak in background) from Shakuseyi.
Getting ThereSkyline Trailhead
From Main Street in Haines, follow Second Avenue uphill to the north. After 0.3 miles, continue straight on Youngs Road. Follow Youngs Road to its end (the last part is on a fairly rough dirt road). The trailhead is about 1.7 miles from Main Street in Haines and can be walked to rather easily if you don’t have a car. Taking a taxi is another alternative.
Sevenmile Saddle Trailhead
From Haines, drive the Haines Highway (or bike or take a taxi) 6.8 miles northwest to the trailhead on the right (north) side of the road. Park at one of the pullouts near the trailhead.
Cathedral Spires as seen from not far above the Sevenmile Trailhead.
The trail can be hiked in either direction, but the route description starts at the Skyline Trail and ends at the Sevenmile Trailhead for no other reason than that’s the way that we hiked it. If you are travelling without wheels it may be slightly easier this way since it may be easier to hitch a ride to Haines than out of Haines.
From the Skyline Trailhead, the trail climbs through a nice lush hemlock forest. It’s a well constructed and easy trail to follow, but there are a few steep places with wooden stairs. After 0.9 miles there is a junction. Both trails actually lead to the summit, but the one to the right (Main Ripinski Trail) is slightly shorter. The left trail (Ridge Trail) passes the radio towers on the ridge.
To climb the Main Ripinski Trail, bear right at each junction (of which there are five!). The last two junctions are with the Piedad Trail and the final junction is 1.9 miles after leaving the trailhead 2.0 if taking the Ridge Trail). About 2.5 miles up, the trail will pass Johnson Creek. Once the trail reaches timberline, the views really open up and become really spectacular. Chances are you will be constantly looking behind your back at the spectacular views behind you!
There are a few moderately steep sections of trail and after 3.8 miles from the trailhead you will reach the summit of Mount Ripinski. Just before the summit you will pass over a little bump (where the bench mark is) labeled 3573 feet elevation on the map.
The views from the summit are really spectacular. To the southwest are the spectacular Cathedral Spires, to the southeast is the impressive Mount Sinclair, and all views to the north produce incredible views of a kaleidoscope of rugged un-named peaks rising straight out of the ocean.
From here, the route to Peak is visible for most of the way. The trail drops rather gradually to the northwest (on snow early season). The ridge curves west and reaches Jones Gap after 1.1 miles from Mount Ripinski. There are some nice campsites around Jones Gap and water should be present until late summer.
Mount Ripinski from Jones Gap.
The route heads west and then north, still following the ridge. Keep your eye out for mountain goats on this section. The route steepens as you approach Shakuseyi Peak. Near the summit is a rock scramble. There is a chain that helps you up one steep place, but Kessler and I made the climb without the chain before seeing it, so it’s not a difficult pitch.
This is the last scramble just below the summit of Peak Shakuseyi Peak.
Shakuseyi Peak is reached after 1.7 miles from Jones Gap. The views from Shakuseyi Peak are similar to those from Mount Ripinski, but you will have a better view of the area around Tukgahgo Mountain and the mountains northwest of Mount Emmerich.
Looking west from the traverse.
After enjoying the views from Shakuseyi Peak, head down the trail to the west. The trail drops rather steeply in places down to some springs around the Sevenmile Saddle where more campsites are located (1.3 miles from Shakuseyi Peak).
From the Sevenmile Saddle, the trail drops through the steep trail and switchbacks through the forest and down to the Sevenmile Trailhead. Along the way is one somewhat overgrown section, but it’s not bad.
The one way distance for this route is 10.0 miles with 5100 total feet elevation gain. My nine year old son and I made the route in eight hours, but many spend one or more nights along this route.
A good pair of boots are needed. Expect much snow along the route before mid or late June. Southeast Alaska is notorious for bad weather, so go prepared for any weather conditions.