Seeking Seward’s Magical Temperate Rainforest

Seward Alaska Temperate Rainforest

Seward‘s waters have a way of drawing attention — and rightfully so. The deep blue-green hue, the reflection of snow-tipped mountains, and the potential for spotting some of Alaska’s iconic marine wildlife all draw our state’s many summertime visitors into Resurrection Bay for day tours and cruises alike. But bordering that waterway lies yet another remarkable ecosystem: The temperate rainforest.

Rainforest in Alaska? Yep. Averaging 55 inches of rain annually and flourishing in temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to mid-50s, Alaska’s mild-climate rainforest encompasses a slim swath of coastal land from Kodiak to Canada. This uniquely perfect position creates the ideal conditions for a temperate rainforest. The maritime climate keeps temps temperate, while glaciated mountains rising from the water catch and hold moisture blown in from the sea. The verdant ecoregion growing in between boasts the greatest biomass accumulation of any other rainforest in the world.

Imagine a living cathedral with towering trees for columns, moss for marble aisles, and myriad ferns in place of stained glass. This natural wonderland awaits just beyond Seward’s city blocks. So, whether you’re just in town for short time between excursions or enjoying a couple leisurely days in the area, consider our picks for places to marvel in Alaska’s rainforest.

For a few hours free: Two Lakes Park and Trail. The park’s well-maintained trail takes you on a moderate, meandering, mile-long loop. About halfway through you’ll come across a rocky waterfall, a picturesque site amongst the forest ferns and thorned devil’s club. The trail is accessible on Second Avenue and B Street (about a half-mile from the small boat harbor) behind AVTEC, Alaska’s Institute of Technology. If you’re feeling sporty, the Jeep Trail up Mt. Marathon starts a few blocks away on 1st Avenue and Monroe.

Seward Alaska Temperate Rainforest

For a morning or afternoon: Lowell Point. Even the trail between this state recreation site’s upper and lower parking areas is a magical one, winding through old Western Red Cedars and towering Sitka Spruce. Mature spruce trees often do not have branches below 100 feet, instead falling away and developing over years into mossy sculpted outcroppings. If you’d like to go farther, take the 1.7-mile (one way) trail to Tonsina Point. The moderate trail climbs over root and rock through shady green rainforest, eventually crossing Tonsina Creek and ending on Tonsina Beach. We recommend a car to get to Lowell Point, so check with your hotel to arrange transportation as needed.

For a day: Lost Lake Trail.  A favorite of mountain bikers and hikers alike, the first two miles of the Lost Lake Trail climb through serene temperate rainforest. Here Sitka Spruce slowly give way to Western and Mountain Hemlock as the trail crests over Resurrection Valley. Turn around at this point or continue to the lake (an additional 5 miles, for total roundtrip of 14 miles). You’ll find the Lost Lake trailhead five miles north of Seward’s Small Boat Harbor in the Lost Lakes subdivision.

Seward Alaska Temperate Rainforest

Our Tips for Seeking Seward’s Rainforest

  • Before you head out, be sure you’re wearing clothes that dry fast, sturdy shoes, and a rain jacket. Don’t let the damp deter you! Although you’re bound to be sprinkled on a bit, the lush forest canopy blocks as much as 70% of the sky, making a rainforest an improbably comfortable place to be in the rain (which is why a forest hike tops the list of our favorite things to do in Seward on a rainy day!).
  • Let your hotel or family know where you’re hiking just in case your return is delayed.
  • Staying at the Seward Windsong Lodge? No need to venture far, this property is tucked right into the rainforest itself!
  • Temperate rainforests are full of living things, including bears. Always be bear aware and use extra caution on all trails in Alaska.

Want to experience even more of Seward? Call Alaska Tour & Travel at 800-208-0200 to build your dream trip to Seward and beyond.

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