All Hikes

Mount Verstovia Trail

By July 14, 2016 No Comments

• USE : Hike
DESCRIPTION : Lower hill slope was logged by Russians in 1860. On a clear day, there are great views of surrounding area from the top.
LENGTH : 2.5 Miles (one way)
TIME : 3 Hours (one way)
TRAILHEAD : Begins 2 miles east of Sitka on Sawmill Creek Road. Ends on the ridge of Mount Verstovia*
ELEVATION GAIN : 2,550 feet to Verstovia*, 3,300 feet to Arrowhead*
RECOMMENDED SEASON : Spring through late fall
• LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY : Difficult. Steep trail with many switchbacks. Tread in places is poor and usually wet, slippery and muddy. Numerous log steps and rocky/rooty sections. Some ropes and cables to grab in some of the more exposed places.
• TRAIL MANAGEMENT AGENCY : US Forest Service


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ACCESS

Two miles east of Sitka along Sawmill Creek Road. Look for the trailhead sign on the left shortly after Wolff Drive. Park in the small 2-car lot. Please don’t let dogs loose at the parking lot for the sake of the neighbors.

HISTORY

The lower hill slope was logged by the Russians in 1860. Russian charcoal pits are still somewhat visible about a quarter mile up the present trail which was first built in the 1930’s for recreational purposes of local residents.

SPECIAL FEATURES

The trail ends in sub-alpine meadows and high ridges. The view from Mt. Verstovia is spectacular. Watch for bald eagles catching thermals.

Locals use this trail to access the upper bowls for skiing in the winter. Avalanches are a hazard, particularly with new snow, or temperature changes.

DESCRIPTION

The trailhead is well signed about two miles out Sawmill Creek Road. The first short segment of trail runs through thickets of alder and salmonberry; soon thereafter it enters

the western hemlock-spruce forest where it remains until breaking over the ridge on the west shoulder of Verstovia. About a third of a mile along the trail, one begins a series of switchbacks up the southwest side of the mountain. There are a couple of nice viewpoints with benches in the forest openings along this part of the trail. At about 2,000 feet the trail reaches a ridge and generally follows it east up to the shoulder of Mt. Verstovia (2,550 feet).

The vegetation change between the 2,000 foot level and summit is dramatic. One moves from an open forest dominated by mountain hemlock into brushy meadows, across snowfields, through grassy sub-alpine meadows and finally into rocky alpine area with stunted, twisted plants. The “peak” of Verstovia is also referred to as “picnic rock”. The maintained trail ends here.

The peak of Arrowhead can be climbed by heading northeast along the rocky alpine ridge. This is an unmaintained trail. It takes about an hour to reach and climb the peak from the end of the trail. The last part of the climb is quite steep and exposed with loose scree; only for the sure-footed climber.

*Special Note: The peak names, Arrowhead and Verstovia used here follow local usage that does not correspond to the topographical map of Sitka A-4.

Local name Verstovia is the same as peak 2550 on the USGS map.

Local name Arrowhead is the same as Verstovia on the USGS map.

OTHER SOURCES:

Sitka Trail Guide (Matt Goff)

Sitka Trail Blog (Matt Goff)

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/tongass/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=79146&actid=50