Pre-Conference Multi-Day Trip

                      Mitkof Island

FT 1 - ABLS Southeast Alaska Field Excursion: Forests, Muskegs, and Maritime beaches of Mitkof Island
Sponsored by ABLS

Trip Leader(s): Joni Johnson (USDA Forest Service) and Karen Dillman

Thursday, July 21 to Sunday, July 24

Arrive on Thursday, July 21st by noon

Arrive in Anchorage late afternoon Sunday, July 24 
Maximum Attendance  - 8
(Note: due to a limited number of participants, registration open only for ABLS members - if not a member and are interested please email

Trip Deposit:  $150.00 includes vehicle rental and one night's lodging.  Travel to and from Petersburg and all meals are NOT included.

Mitkof Island provides options for exploring diverse lichen and bryophyte communities, ranging from maritime beaches to the alpine, from roadside botanizing to strenuous hiking. Mitkof Island is situated in the heart of the temperate rainforest in southeastern Alaska. A few kilometers from the continental mainland, the island is shaped by its glacial history and the 280 cm mean annual rainfall. Western hemlock – Sitka spruce forests along the beach and on hillslopes transition to mixed conifer forests on more poorly drained soils in association with large blanket bogs and poor fens.

Petersburg, population 3,200, is a fishing community that caters to tourists with amenities such as hotels, bed and breakfasts, two grocery stores, restaurants and coffee shops, gift shops, charter operators and lodges. Séet Ká was used by the Tlingit as a summer fish camp, and fish traps and petroglyphs can be found. The area was settled by Norwegian fishermen in the early 1900’s. The community is visibly proud of its heritage.

Three proposed guided trips by local USDA Forest Service Ecologists will occur over the stay on Mitkof Island. Waterproof boots and rain gear are recommended.

1. Raven Roost Trail: This 4-mile trail round-trip is located behind Petersburg and is accessible from downtown Petersburg on foot and takes you to 600 m. elevation. The Forest Service recently upgraded the trail to be accessible by all hiking abilities. The trail passes through peatlands, old-growth western hemlock-Sitka spruce and mixed conifer forest types. The top of the mountain ridge is at 1800’, a mosaic of peatlands and mountain hemlock forest. The views of the mainland are spectacular from the ridgeline, and there is also FS cabin at the end of the trail.

2. Muskegs of Mitkof Island: Petersburg was built on a muskeg, so there are accessible Sphagnum peatlands within walking distance from Petersburg. There are also expansive bogs and poor fens that are accessed by Forest Service roads and many different Forest Service trails. These areas are a bryophyte wonderland. Dwarf shore pine and yellow cedar are scattered in pockets with ericaceous shrubs and sedges, carnivorous plants, clubmoss, and lichen.

3. Rocky Maritime beaches and beach fringe forest: Low tides are early 24-29 July (think 6-hour diurnal tidal cycle, with a range of 3 m to 8m!) with different rocky habitats exposed along the shoreline. The adjacent forest is comprised of Sitka spruce, western hemlock, red alder and crabapple. Geology of Mitkof Island is mainly granitic and graywacke or schist and this field trip would involve driving to different locations on Mitkof Island to explore.

Collecting possibilities – YesTNF permit will be procured by Joni Johnson

Lodging has been reserved at the Tides Inn in Petersburg, AK - Rooms are $130.00++ night.  Field trip price includes one-night hotel fees.  You will be responsible for the full amount upon check out.  The attendee list will be shared to help with cost-sharing and coordination of vehicle and hotel accommodations.

Getting there:  You must make your own arrangements to get to Petersburg. 

There are two flights in/out of Petersburg daily, we recommend booking flights early. Flight 65 leaves from Seattle around 7-8 am daily, arrives in Petersburg via Ketchikan at 11:45 am. It continues on to Anchorage, leaving Petersburg at 12:35 pm. Flight 64 leaves Anchorage and goes to Juneau, then to Petersburg.

Leaving: Flight 65 leaves Petersburg at 12:35 pm, arrives at Anchorage at 3:49 pm on Sunday, July 24th. Some BSA Conference activities may be missed, please plan accordingly.

To add more adventure to the trip, we suggest using The Alaska Marine Highway (AMHS) ferry from Ketchikan or Juneau to Petersburg ( Careful trip coordination is needed. It’s advised to call AMHS for a reservation to confirm updated arrival and departure itinerary. However, the ferry ride is relaxing and a comfortable setting while watching mountains, glaciers, forests, beaches, and abundant marine life. It’s an essential way of travel for residents of Southeast Alaska.