All Hikes

Indian River Trail

By July 14, 2016 No Comments

USE : Beginning Multiuse, Remainder Hike Only

DESCRIPTION : Relaxing walk through northwest coast rainforest with views of the Sisters Mountain, wildlife and more.

DISTANCE : 4.5 miles one way – 2-3 hours one-way

TIME : 2-3 Hours (one way)

TRAILHEAD : Begins at parking lot . mile down Indian River Road on right. Ends at base of Indian River falls.

ELEVATION GAIN : 1000 feet


LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY : Easy. Climbs gradually. Easy to find, clear, in fair condition. Some muddy spots. Bears are uncommon on the trail and probably avoid it during the day, but this is a very fishy river, so be bear aware.

Bikes not currently allowed on trail past the pump house gate.



The trailhead is within walking distance of downtown Sitka. Follow Sawmill Creek Road to Indian River Road, then a short distance to the Indian River trailhead and parking lot. The new trailhead is ample and was built to allow continued good relations with the neighborhood.

The new trailhead has a sign on Indian River Road; look for it on the right. A short wheelchair-accessible gravel trail parallels the road and goes through the woods behind the houses. This trail joins the old trailhead and follows the left side of the pump house’s chain link fence for a bit. Once on the trail the route is obvious. The Forest Service keeps the trail well-maintained but there is step and run boardwalk and stairs that are slippery when wet.

You can also access this trail from the Sitka’s Cross Trail, which links to Downtown Sitka and beyond.


Vistas of the Sisters Mountains & Indian River Falls. A relaxing walk through northwest coast rainforest (Old growth Sitka spruce, western hemlock and yellow cedar). Some

very nice views of the river, and a few swimming spots for the bold. The falls are particularly scenic in winter, but they are a nice destination all year round. The last few hundred feet to the base of the falls is not a trail; more like boulder-hopping through the creek. Hunters may be encountered in Fall. Some folks use this trail to access the west valley and the alpine ridges.


The trail follows Indian River up a wide valley. It meanders through the forest across gentle terrain. About a half mile from the trailhead, it skirts a muskeg. There are several high log bridges with handrails and good traction. The views of the surrounding mountains from the muskeg are magnificent. Along the trail there are numerous places well suited to picnics. Birds and animals are common in the forest along the river. During late summer and early fall, salmon are plentiful; however, salmon fishing is prohibited. Deer are sighted frequently, and often one can find bear paw prints in the trail. The elevation gain of 700 feet is very gradual, making this an easy trail, however the last mile of the trail is rougher and more difficult to hike.