Tongass National Forest

Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness

Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness is located in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

Getting There: Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, comprising 653,179 acres, is located 50 miles southeast of Juneau, and 70 miles north of Petersburg and is adjacent to Stephens Passage. The entire eastern boundary of the area is on the international boundary with Canada.

Access: Access is by boat, using Stephens Passage and entering Holkham Bay and Tracy and Endicott Arms, or by float plane from Juneau and Petersburg. Large tour vessels and smaller commercial boats frequently visit Tracy Arm.

Description: Tracy and Endicott Arms are the major features of the area. Both are long, deep and narrow fiords that penetrate more than 30 miles into the heavily glaciated Coast Mountain Range. At the head of each of these fiords are active tide water glaciers, which continually calve icebergs into the fiords. During the summer, both fiords have considerable floating ice ranging in size from a three-story building to hand-size pieces. The ice often forms a barrier to small boat traffic.

Fords Terror is an area of sheer rock walls towering above the narrow waterway, which connects it with Endicott Arm. The fiord was named for a crew member of a naval vessel who rowed into the canyon at slack tide in 1889 and was caught in surging tidal currents filled with icebergs for six "terrifying" hours when the tide changed.

Most of the area is rugged snow and glacier-covered mountains with steeply walled valleys dotted with high cascading waterfalls. A typical southeast Alaska spruce-hemlock rainforest grows on the lower slopes. Timberline is at about 1,500 feet elevation. There are a few muskeg bogs dominated by sedges, grass, and sphagnum moss.

Mountain goats, wolverines, brown and black bears, numerous furbearers, and a few Sitka black-tailed deer inhabit the upland areas. Bald eagles and shore birds use the coastal areas. Sea lion and whales frequent the waterways, and harbor seals use floating ice at the head of the fiords for rearing of young and protection from predators.

Tlingit Indian villages once existed in the area near the terminus of Sumdum Glacier in Holkham Bay and at Stanford Cave in Endicott Arm.

For further information contact: Sitka Ranger District - Tongass National Forest

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 27 May 2011
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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