Ketchikan, Alaska does not exactly have a vast network of outstanding trails.  But the best trail available has to be the Deer Mountain trail.  The Deer Mountain trailhead can be reached by a short 30 minute walk from downtown or by way of a 7 minute taxi ride.  The starting elevation is around 500 feet and the Deer Mountain summit reaches a height of around 3,000 feet in the course of 3.5 miles each way.  The trail climbs steeply through the Tongass National Rainforest, past a stunning array of plants, trees, and countless beautiful waterfalls.  Based on signs at the trailhead and in talking with local residents, I found that mountain goats, black bears, and wolves are all common sightings in this area.  I hiked this trail for my second time on August 24, 2010 during a day of persistent pouring rain.  Being that most of my hiking is done in Death Valley, I was not used to or properly prepared for hiking in wet weather.  Thus, it was somewhat miserable and challenging to push on while being drenched by pouring rain, splashing through mud and water on the trail, and having lousy visibility due to the clouds and fog.  But I wanted to make the summit, as this was my second attempt.  During the day, I only passed by one fellow hiker, who was on his way back down from a backpacking trip.  (The trail continues far past the Deer Mountain summit to some beautiful lakes).  I did indeed make the summit, but as you will see in my pictures there was not much to see except clouds.  On a clear day, though, I have seen in other pictures that there are outstanding views of Ketchikan and the surrounding areas, which make this hike well worthwhile.  One interesting thing I found about 1/4 of a mile beyond the summit spur trail was a forest service cabin.  It provided a nice shelter to dry off from and rest for a while, before beginning the hike back down to the city.  Personally, I'm not sure if hiking is the best way to go if you only have one day in Ketchikan.  I actually recommend spending your time in Misty Fjords National Monument.  Misty Fjords reminded me a lot of Yosemite, except that the steep granite walls and waterfalls dropped down into the ocean, instead of onto a valley floor.  And not too far from Ketchikan (relatively speaking) is my favorite Alaskan city-- Hyder, which has an abundance of outstanding trails to hike.
This is a nice view of downtown Ketchikan and Deer Mountain.  The Deer Mountain summit of 3,001 feet can be seen at the top of the picture:
The Deer Mountain trailhead starts in a gravel parking lot off of Ketchikan Lakes Road:
The usually muddy path begins by crossing a short bridge and heading off into the forest:
Stop at the information board to get any updates on trail conditions or alerts:
The next 7 pictures introduce you to some of the small and large waterfalls which you pass near the beginning of the hike.  This is a truly beautiful place:
Hiking through an Alaskan rainforest is a very unique experience:
Notice all the berries growing at the top of these bushes:
Close-up of some of the red berries:
Water frequently flows directly across the trail, especially when it has been raining recently:
Passing by the massive root system of a fallen tree:
Beautiful greenery growing tall in the rainforest:
One mile marker.  During the first mile, approximately 1,000 feet of elevation is gained:
As you can see with the raindrops hitting the water, it was raining steadily during my August 2010 hike:
Shortly after the one mile marker, there is a clearing where you can look out through the trees at the view.  Sadly, there were clouds and fog and I couldn't see anything on this day:
However, on my 2008 hike, I reached this same point and could see out because it was a sunny day.  The next two pictures show you the view from this spot.  This is as far as Daria and I made it during our 2008 hike:
Continuing on solo during my 2010 hike, I reached this spot with two pretty waterfalls cascading down:
Getting a closer look at one of the waterfalls:
Looking into the thick trees of the Tongass National Rainforest:
The next two pictures reveal how the water was frequently flowing directly down the trail:
Yet another very pretty waterfall along the trail.  These numerous waterfalls made up for having no views, making the hike still worthwhile:
Passing by some large plants and greenery:
The next two pictures are of the forest as the trail continued climbing steeply uphill:
Passing by two more waterfalls during this part of the hike:
The rain was somewhat heavy during my hike and it was impossible to stay dry.  All of the rain helped created this stream flowing down the middle of the trail:
Trail markers provided to keep you on the right path and perhaps assist when snowfall is heavy:
Reaching a clearing during the hike where the trail comes out of the thick forest into an open area:
The trail was very well maintained, with frequent wooden bridges and steps where needed:
Passing by a small pond in the forest clearing:
Check out the pretty greenery and plants in the next four pictures:
In the next three pictures, you can see how the trail passes through an area which would have outstanding views on a sunny day:
Reaching a junction, the main trail continues straight, while a spur trail to the right heads up to the Deer Mountain summit:
Heading up the half mile spur trail towards the summit:
Alaskan wildflowers growing in the rainy climate during August:
The next two pictures show views of the Deer Mountain summit as I got closer:
Looking back down some of the switchbacks I had been hiking up:
Final path to the summit of Deer Mountain in Ketchikan, Alaska:
The summit rock marks the top at 3,001 feet:
Steve reaching the Deer Mountain summit in August of 2010.  Sadly, there were no views due to the bad weather:
Heading back down the trail towards the earlier junction:
I decided to head a little further to check out the cabin (Deer Mountain Shelter).  The trail took me through a wide open rocky area:
Soon the trail split once again and I was on a spur trail towards the cabin:
Passing by another scenic pond just before the shelter:
This is the Deer Mountain Shelter.  As you can see, the roof is well designed to deal with significant snow fall:
I was completely soaked so I went inside the cabin and climbed up the ladder into the upper room to rest for a while:
Looking down into the lower portion of the cabin.  The cabin is a great idea and is available for backpackers to sleep in:
Steve signing into the logbook and learning about the cabin and general area:
This was my registry entry in the cabin:
Two more views of the cabin before heading back down:
Passing by a large patch of snow in late August at this high elevation:
Four final pictures of the trail, forest, trees, and waterfalls which all combined to make this an awesome hike:
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