Misty Fjords National Monument - Kayak Trip / Canoe Trip
This beautiful area is still one of Alaska's secrets. The most famous-and therefore most popular-places within Misty Fjords National Monument are Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove. But don't overlook the rest of the area. There is a lot of scenic grandeur in other inlets and bays that few of Misty's visitors ever find. Most of Misty Fjords is remote and wild country, a haven for ducks, brown and black bear, Sitka deer, mink, river otters, and in a few places, moose. Humpbacks and orcas, porpoise, sea lions, and seals ply the waters of Behm Canal and the inlets. The steep and sometimes sheer fjord walls are keys to the area's scenic allure, but they also make camping sites hard to come by.
It is possible to reach Misty Fjords by paddling to and/or from Ketchikan. However the round-trip distance to Walker or Rudyerd is more than 40 miles, and paddling will add at least two days on each end of your trip. Many kayakers therefore choose to use one of the delivery and pickup services from Ketchikan.
Trip Highlights: Magnificent steep fjord walls, old-growth rain forest, wilderness camping, birding, and viewing of marine and terrestrial animals.
Trip Rating: Beginner: Those who get dropped off in one of the bays, inlets, or coves and restrict their paddling to that local area will typically find calm conditions that allow beginner level skills.
Advanced: Those who paddle all the way to and from Ketchikan to Misty Fjords need to be experienced paddlers with plenty of time. In every group however there should be at least one person who is knowledgeable in wilderness camping.
Traveling to & from Misty Fjords
If you decide to use a delivery and pickup service for your visit to Misty Fjords, there are some choices. Alaska Cruises makes a run every day to Misty Fjords in its high-speed catamaran and does drop-offs and pickups at their floating dock at the head of Rudyerd Bay. Silver King Charters, Alaska Aquamarine Experience, and Southeast Sea Kayaks can all arrange kayak transportation at a variety of locations in Misty Fjords. This service is more to the liking of most sea kayakers because it means you can spend less time in busy Rudyerd Inlet or even avoid it altogether, and you can paddle from one place to another without repeating any part of the trip.
Trip Duration: Plan on spending at least four to six days in Misty Fjords. Those who paddle one or both ways from or to Ketchikan are looking at easily 120 miles of paddling. Inside the monument you can paddle as much or as little as you wish. However from a drop-off in Rudyerd Bay to Walker Cove and Manzanita Bay, then back to Rudyerd is 60 miles.
Navigation Aids: NOAA chart 17424 is a highly detailed chart with more detail than is necessary. More realistic options are the USGS topo map Ketchikan (1:250,000), or better yet NOAA chart 17420. Nearly as good and less expensive is the U.S. Forest Service map, Misty Fjords Monument Map (see Appendix 3). The last however is printed on paper that has a short life.
Tidal Information: Consult tide tables for paddling and camping. Ranges are typical for the rest of the Ketchikan area, and currents are easily manageable-with the exception of the Alava Point area (discussed later). Plan daily paddling to take advantage of tide.
Cautions: There is abundant boat traffic in Rudyerd Bay, which creates significant wakes for paddlers to move through. Wakes are especially dangerous when loading and unloading kayaks on the beach. Sea conditions can be rough at times within Behm Canal, especially in the vicinity of Alava Bay and Alava Point, which is exposed to the southwest ocean swells and winds.
Trip Planning: Talk to Forest Service personnel at the district ranger station in Ketchikan before paddling in Misty Fjords. If kayaking out and back from Ketchikan, take along a VHF handheld radio that can also pick up weather broadcasts. Get an extended weather forecast before setting out.
Launch Site: When leaving from Ketchikan any of the small boat harbors are convenient. If you are getting hauled in, your starting point can be either the floating dock at the head of Rudyerd Bay or with some transporters almost any point of your choice. Popular options are Manzanita Bay, Hut Point at the entrance to Walker Cove, and Winstanley Island.
If you leave from Ketchikan, follow the shoreline southeast to Mountain Point, cross George Inlet, and continue along to the north of Bold and Round Islands past Cone Island, and eventually round into Behm Canal heading northeast at Alava Point.
In Behm Canal continue on through Narrow Pass and Short Pass and perhaps on to Manzanita Bay-an excellent camping spot. Or in favorable conditions consider crossing the canal at Short Pass, then heading north to Winstanley Island and Shoalwater Pass on the way to Rudyerd Bay or Walker Cove.
Where to Stay & Where to Hike
camping Camping is permitted anywhere in Misty Fjords National Monument. However opportunities are limited by topography and sometimes by bear density. Check with Forest Service rangers for current conditions. Also, there are a number of Forest Service cabins in Misty Fjords that you can reserve and pay for in advance (see Appendix 2). hiking There are some excellent short hiking trails in Misty Fjords. Ask the Forest Service folks in Ketchikan for the Recreation Opportunity Guides (ROGs) for the trails in Misty.
Excerpted from Guide to Sea Kayaking in Southeast Alaska: The Best Trips and Tours from Misty Fjords to Glacier Bay by Jim Howard with permission from Falcon Publishing.
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