Scenic USA - Alaska

Tongass National Forest

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Gold Creek, Tongass National Forest - Juneau, Alaska

Photos by Dan Kehlenbach
Dan's Portraits of Alaska

     It's easy to guess that the largest state in America is home to the largest national forest. About 500 miles from the Arctic Circle, Alaska's Tongass covers 17 million acres and surrounds the capitol city of Juneau. Eagle - Tongass National Forest, Alaska What's hard to believe, the Tongass National Forest is considered a temperate rain-forest. While most of us associate the term rain-forest with places such as the Amazon, this forest is covered in western hemlock, Sitka spruce, yellow and red cedar, shore pine, mosses, ferns and lichens. Perseverance Trail - Tongass National Forest, Alaska The rugged coastal territory also includes over a dozen wilderness areas. Passed into law in 1964, the Wilderness Act attempts to ensure these preserves remain unmarred and road-less. Besides abundant vegetation, the forest is a haven for wildlife, including black and brown bears, wolves, bald eagles, Sitka black-tailed deer and moose.
     Not only is the Tongass the largest forest in the United States, but it's also home to the largest remaining stand of coastal temperate rain-forest in the world. The Perseverance Trail, a short walk from Juneau, is one of the best ways to explore this unique forest habitat. Following an old mining trail, hikers can still see remnants of an Ebner Falls - Tongass National Forest, Alaska 80 million dollar mining operation. Closed in 1944, many world records were associated with gold extraction from the mountains that surround Gold Creek Valley. The three mile trail, one of the most popular in the capital city, runs up the valley under the imposing Mount Juneau and Mount Roberts. It's common to see mountain goats, eagles and black bears along the trail, as well as amateur prospectors, birders and local walkers. Hikers are also treated to a series of waterfalls that tumble down the 3000 foot mountainsides. Even though the trail attracts over 30,000 visitors every year, mainly cruise ship passengers, this section of the Tongass still retains some of its purity and wilderness beauty.

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