Stikine-Leconte Wilderness

Located in the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.

Location: The Stikine-LeConte Wilderness, about 448,841 acres, is located on the mainland of southeast Alaska, six miles west of Petersburg and seven miles north of Wrangell. The boundary extends from Frederick Sound on the west to the Alaska-Canada boundary on the east. The eastern portion of the wilderness is part of the Kates Needle area, a recent addition to the Tongass National Forest.

Access: The most common access is by small boat, with limited access by float plane. The Stikine River permits access via small boat from salt water, through the southern portion of the Wilderness, across the Alaska boundary, and into the interior of Canada.

Description: The most prominent feature of the Wilderness is the Stikine River. The river is confines to a narrow valley by steep, rugged mountains. These surrounding mountains contain many active glaciers. Meltwater from the glaciers has a high silt content, thus giving the Stikine a milky appearance. The delta at the mouth of the river is 17 miles wide, being formed from numerous slow moving "braided" channels (three of which are navigable). One hot and two warm springs are found adjacent to the river.

Alpine vegetation, including mosses, lichens, and other small plants, are found at elevations above 2,000 feet. The lower mountain slopes near salt water support a dense spruce-hemlock rainforest. In the area's eastern portion approaching the Canadian border the rainfall decreases and the vegetation changes to stands of cottonwood with dense underbrush. Cottonwood trees are also common on the many islands of the Stikine River. Grass flats, tidal marshes, and shifting sandbars cover the delta area.

Much of the Wilderness, particularly the Stikine River drainage, is recognized as an important fish and wildlife area. Incredible opportunities to view bald eagles are available in the Stikine Flats Wildlife Viewing Area. Moose, mountain goats, brown and black bears, Stika black-tailed deer, and wolves inhabit the area. The delta flats are a major resting and nesting area for migratory birds. A variety of fish, including king and other species of salmon are found.

Facilities: There are 13 Forest Service public use recreation cabins within the area. There is also an enclosed bathing structure at Chief Shakes Hot Springs.

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


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »