Goddard Hot Springs

from Sitka, Alaska

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Paddle Trip{short description of image}{short description of image}(A Level 3 Trip)
Sitka to Goddard Hot Springs, Sitka Sound, Alaska
The Road Trip: Sitka is accessible daily by air from Seattle or by ferry from Bellingham, Washington once a week. Sitka is located on the western coast of Baronof Island. This island is about the size of the state of Delaware.

The Launch: There are numerous launches in Sitka, but I used the parking lot of University of Alaska Southeast in Sitka. You can park your car there no problem.

Paddling time and distance: 3 day trip. Approx. 30 miles

Route: From Sitka head southwest across Sitka Sound for Cape Buronof. There are numerous small islands in Sitka Sound. Once at the cape duck into Pirate's Cove or Three Entrance Bay for some really nice sandy beaches. The cape itself is rocky and a bit rough at times. Get around the cape and stay inside a collection of offshore rocks. There will be kelp beds and breakers near the rocks. Head south down the coast of Baronof Island, heading for Redoubt Bay. Once in Redoubt head southeast for the head of the bay. There is a large stream/river which drains Redoubt Lake. Portage your kayaks over the hump of land to the lake. The pathway is on the north side of the outlet stream. The portage is about 100 yds, and isn't difficult with a partner. There is a good boardwalk trail over to the lake. Paddle southwest down the lake towards the Goddard trail. Leave your kayak at the old cabin ruins. This trail is unmaintained and can be found behind the ruined cabin in the brush. It goes about three miles over muskeg and forest. The trail was formerly boardwalk, which still exists in fragments. But expect lots of mud and lots of missing boards! The hot springs are two bath houses. It is free and gets heavy use from Sitka residents. Most people arrive by power boat. Each party takes turns using the tubs. Very hot water! Great views of Mt Edgecumbe, etc. We took the Redoubt portage route as an alternative to the rougher coastal route to Goddard. The coastal route is better in the sense of no portaging, whereas in rough weather the portage route is safer and easier. At the time the outer coast was pretty rough.

Paddling Tips: From Cape Buronof to Redoubt Bay is the roughest part. There is some exposure to ocean swells and breakers. Beware of rocks! Sitka Sound can be calm or rough depending on the weather.

Watch out for: Sitka Sound (near town) has cruise ships, fishing boats and other marine traffic. Usually not an issue. Grizzlies are present throughout Southeast Alaska. Use bear cans or hang your food. Have some bear spray or even a gun. Make noise before beaching and before entering the forest. I have seen 8 bears this summer from my kayak! By the way, bears can swim. Like a golden retreiver they can swim. Hypothermia may be an issue if it is cold or raining. Summer temps range from 40-60. Often rainy.

Natural Features: We saw two grizzly bears on the beach. We saw three porpoises off Cape Buronof. In the past I have seen both gray and humpback whales in these waters. Also harbor seals and sea lions are routine sightings. Deer are also commonly sighted on beaches. Bald eagles everywhere.

Other Landmarks: Mt Edgecumbe dominates the landscape around Sitka. It is a conical volcano which is visible much of the trip.

Stretch Your Legs: Pirate's Cove and Three Entrance Bay are extraordinarily beautiful locations.

One Paddler's Story: I am 36 yrs, college teacher living in Sitka. I have been kayaking for three years all in Southeast Alaska. This year's the big trip was to Glacier Bay Natl. Park. You can look me up, if you want, I'll go out with you. I use a Thunderbird by Pacific Watersports out of Seattle. That's a wide beam boat for the big boys like me. Its really wide! I did this trip in early September.

-- Trip contributed by Joe Liddle

For more information on Sitka:

Sitka Description and Map from Annahootz Alaska Adventures

Sitka Information and Map from Sitka.com

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