- Tours begin with pick-up at the cruise ship port of Icy Strait Point, near Hoonah, Alaska. Our first stop is near a Pigeon Guillemot rookery, where we pull out the spotting scopes for close views of these striking puffin relatives. After a brief look at a Bald Eagle's nest conveniently located in the heart of the town of Hoonah, we venture out onto unpaved logging roads for the rest of the tour. Traveling through mixed forest, previously logged areas (much of the regrowth is 30-40yr. old), and ancient peat bogs offers opportunities to spot the many birds, Sitka Black-tailed Deer, and Coastal Brown Bears that roam this temperate rainforest.
- Our next stop is a scenic tidal estuary, where we spend some time scoping for ducks, seabirds, shorebirds, and gulls. While scanning for birds at this peaceful location, we sometimes get lucky and spot a distant bear as well!
- En route to the walking trail, our last stop, we pause on a bridge overlooking a rich and picturesque salmon stream, where hordes of wriggling salmon can be seen during the spawning season.
- The last portion of the tour is a 1/4-mile trail (1/2-mile, round-trip) through some mixed forest (including old-growth), that opens up into grasslands. We see most of our small land birds along this trail, and also have a chance to snack on an abundance of wild salmonberries and blueberries during their respective growing seasons! After returning to our vehicle, we drive 25min. back to the cruise ship port for drop-off.
Duration: 3.5 hrs., but sometimes we go a bit longer if clients' schedules allow.
Difficulty: Moderate. Most of the tour is quite easy, though guests must be able to climb into and out of a van repeatedly (step stool provided). The gravel trail is mostly level, except one 100ft. section which is fairly steep in places. This tour is not recommended for guests with walking difficulties. For liability reasons, I cannot leave a guest alone in the vehicle while the rest of the group walks the trail.
Total Travel Distance: 30 miles round trip, with multiple stops along the way.
Amenities: Binoculars for every guest, a spotting scope, spare rain jackets, bottled water.
Means of Transportation: 15-passenger van