Hiking on a Cruise to Alaska?

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Hiking on a cruise to Alaska? Do those words even go together? If you’re active baby boomers cruising on an UnCruise Adventures ship—no problem.

Alan and I had the opportunity to try out several of the hikes that are offered on the adventure cruise company’s itinerary when we sailed on the Alaska Inside Passage: Eastern Coves itinerary. The hiking excursions were rated by level of difficulty, which made it easy to choose hikes that were appropriate for our fitness level. Here are our favorites.

Cascade Creek Trail, Thomas Bay, Alaska

Two baby boomers standing in front of Cascade Waterfall, Alaska
Hike to Cascade Waterfall in Thomas Bay, Alaska

After spending the night anchored in Thomas Bay, Alan and I wake to a mystical scene as mist plays about in the trees that crowd the shoreline. Boarding the skiff, our Level 2 hiking group motors to land and the start of Cascade Creek Trail.

Water from the creek roars beside us as we make our way on the boardwalk path to the foot of Cascade Waterfall. After stopping for photos, we hike up wooden steps that climb the hillside, surrounded by a spruce and hemlock temperate rainforest. Salmon berries decorate the thick undergrowth.

“Look,” says Un-Cruise Adventures naturalist, Nikitakua, pointing to moose droppings.

The group clusters around the moose’s calling card, some of us secretly hoping for an appearance.

The trail continues uphill to a bridge that crosses near the waterfall. After a few hundred feet, we stop for more photos before turning around. Negotiating the wet, slippery boardwalk trail back to shore, and the waiting skiff, is made easier by the poles that the ship has provided.

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Baird Glacier Trail Hike

Three people walking on Baird Glacier
Exploring Baird Glacier in Southeast Alaska

When the ship anchors in Scenic Cove, Baird Glacier is just a skiff ride away. Arriving at a rocky beach, we step out onto the glacier’s terminal moraine.

This Level 2 hike offers a possible wet landing and slippery surface, so Alan and I wear rubber boots provided by the ship. Once again, my trusty poles (again, courtesy of Un-Cruise Adventures) give this baby boomer confidence on the uneven surfaces that the hike traverses.

At first, the hike (there is no trail), negotiates land left behind from the glacier’s exit. Mossy fields are littered with stones, both large and small, rounded by glacial action into smooth globes, some sheltering nurseries of tiny evergreens as the earth claims what the glacier left behind.

The sound of water permeates the air—dripping, gurgling, streaming glacial runoff. To climb onto the top of the glacier, we skip lightly across a spongy stream of mud before the last, brief climb onto the top of the ice.

What do we find? Another world.

Ridges, hills and valleys of ice as far as we can see. But the ice isn’t pure white—that resides farther up the valley. Instead, the ice around us is a dirty brown with embedded chunks of debris. With its peaks and valleys, the surface reminds me of the peaks of meringue on a chocolate cream pie.

Since we visited Baird Glacier on a rare sunny day, waterproof safari pants over long underwear kept me warm. A hat and gloves provided protection against the cold wind blowing off the glacier; but a visit during rainy weather would require that baby boomers wear rain gear and a cautious attitude due to slippery conditions.

Three Lakes Loop Trail, Petersburg, Alaska

Donna Hull hiking on Three Lakes Loop Trail in Southeast Alaska
Hiking across the muskeg bog on Three Lakes Loop Trail

If you’ve ever traveled on a cruise, you know the feeling of needing to go for a vigorous walk—on land. Meet Three Lakes Loop Trail, near Petersburg, Alaska.

Once again, we begin this Level 2 hike by motoring to shore from the ship. The mostly boardwalk trail (some parts are gravel) loops around Sand, Hill and Crane Lakes. In the process, there is a gradual climb through the forest to areas of prairie and muskeg bogs. The approximately 4.5-mile round trip hike offers possible wildlife sightings of black bear, moose and beaver.

Wolverine Creek Trail at Yes Bay

In Yes Bay, Un-Cruise Adventures guests visit Yes Bay Lodge in the Tongass National Forest. The muddy trail behind the lodge negotiates a hillside, overlooking a creek that’s known for good bear watching.

With small obstacles along the path, baby boomer hikers are advised to watch their footing. Depending on how far you hike, this is designated a Level 1 or Level 2 hike.

So there you have it—four hiking trails that are part of a cruise itinerary that will keep active travelers happy.

Taking a cruise and having a hard time choosing between all of the excursion options? Check out our favorite experiences from Alaska cruise excursions.

Disclosure: The Un-Cruise company (previously American Safari and InnerSea Discoveries) provided this travel experience, but the opinions are our own.

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