Roadtrippin’ 2023: Exploring the trails of the Tongass National Forest

Roadtrippin' 2023: Taking a trek in the Tongass National Forest
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 10:29 PM AKDT
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SITKA, Alaska (KTUU) - Don’t let Sitka’s mere 14 miles of road fool you into thinking there is limited area to explore.

The Tongass National Forest is the largest national forest in the country, and the world’s largest temperate rainforest, and gives visitors and locals alike plenty of room to explore and play.

Alaina Brown grew up in Sitka, exploring all the trail systems. With hiking being a big part of her life in Sitka, she now shares that love with other hiking enthusiasts through her business, Tongass Treks. Brown takes small groups, up to seven hikers, on customized hikes around Sitka, where she shows them the ropes, points out the unique Sitka wildlife and makes sure all her clients walk away with candid photos of them hiking and enjoying the 360-degree views around them.

Brown recommends traveling in groups while hiking, and hikers should pack supplies such as water, first aid supplies, and bear spray.

The Tongass also has the largest concentration of black bears in the world — with six bear viewing areas in the park — so experts say being bear aware on hikes is critical.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that if you encounter a bear do the following: Do not run, remain calm, back away slowly while facing the bear, speak calmly, and make yourself appear larger by stretching out your arms and making loud noises. Small children should be carried, and know how to use bear spray.