Tongass National Forest

Paddling - Sarkar Lakes Canoe Route

On Prince of Wales Island.

The canoe route begins at the parking area on the southwest shore of Sarkar Lake and continues along 6 other lakes and streams. Flat water paddling along the lakes can be expected. Each lake is connected by a series of 7 boardwalk portages. All portage routes are relatively short and gentle and may contain several stairs. The combined overland and water route is 15 miles.

Length: 15 miles
Trip time (non-stop): 6-8 hours
Recommended trip time: 2-3 days
Difficulty: Easy
Recommended Season: Spring-Summer-Fall-Winter
USGS Maps: Craig D4, Petersburg A4

Access: Take (FDR 20) at the Control Lake Junction (north towards Naukati) for 30 miles to Sarkar Lake. A parking area, kiosk, boat ramp and accessible toilet are located at the put-in just off the 20 Road.

Portage 1 (1,780 feet) - Connects Sarkar Lake to Upper Sarkar Lake.
Portage 2 (1,130 feet) - Connects Upper Sarkar Lake to Red Bone Lake.
Portage 3 (465 feet) - Connects Red Bone Lake to the stream between Red Bone and Laughing Water Lake.
Portage 4 (500 feet) - Connects the same stream in Portage 3 to Laughing Water Lake.
(Segments 3 and 4 are located along the stream between Red Bone and Laughing Water Lakes. They are separated by a short paddle along the stream. Paddling the entire stream is not recommended.)
Portage 5 (1,280 feet) - Connects Laughing Water Lake to Finger Lake.
Portage 6 (1,690 feet) - Connects Finger Lake to Raven Lake and Long Lake.
Portage 7 - (1,000 feet) - Connects Long Lake to Laughing water Lake.

Difficulties: Streams in the Sarkar Lakes area are not recommended for paddling. At low water, numerous rocks and ledges are exposed. At high water, boats may pin on rocks and other debris. High winds make paddling Finger and Raven Lakes difficult. There are no other major problem areas. The paddle between Portage 3 and Portage 4 may be inconvenient, but it is not difficult. Generally, in winter, the lakes freeze making the route impossible to paddle.

Attractions: The canoe route is located within a currently designated roadless primitive area. The surrounding scenery is characteristic of a temperate southeast Alaska rain forest setting. Old growth spruce, hemlock and cedar trees tower over an abundance of muskegs, lakes and streams. The Sarkar area has a rich cultural history that includes Native American settlements, fox farming dating back to the 1950's and extensive trapping. High quality fishing opportunities prevail within the Sarkar Lakes system. Wolves, black bear, Sitka black tailed deer, small fur bearers and numerous birds frequent the area. Located on the eastern shore of Sarkar Lake approximately 2 miles from the put-in is a Forest Service cabin, which may be rented for public recreation use.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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