Nestled between the Chilkoot and the Chilkat Rivers in Alaska near the border to British Columbia is the small town of Haines. This town boasts 2,300 residents, and six pawmazing state parks that draw in visitors from all over who long to experience the wilds of Alaska for themselves. Serving as an intersection point between the United States and Canada, and between waterways and mountain ranges, Haines offers a wide variety of outdoor opportunities in varying environments, from tundra to boreal forests.
Of the six parks, the 9,000- acre Chilkat State Park is the largest. Located at 7 mile Mud Bay Road, this park has campsites ranging from primitive to all facility hook-ups for RVs. Three trails offer visitors hiking of various grades along coastal areas, through woodlands, and with some stunning scenic views. Visitors to the park's information center can view the two glaciers, Rainbow and Davidson, through the panoramic windows.
The best Haines' state park for kayaking and canoeing is the Chilkoot Lake State Recreation Site at 10 Mile Lutak Road. This is also a popular place for salmon fishing from June through to the middle of October. Pet owners should be aware that salmon not only draw fishermen to the area, but bears too. Dogs should be kept leashed for their own safety and owners should brush up on their bear etiquette to prevent any untoward occurrences.
Right on the shoreline in the downtown area of Haines, you can find the Portage Cove State Recreation Site. This 7-acre at 1 mile Beach Road offers a limited 9 site campsite for tents only that must be walked or biked to. No parking is allowed. But with such a close proximity to the water and gorgeous views of land and marine mammals, this smaller oasis can be a unique opportunity without straying too far from civilization.
A short 27 miles northwest up Haines Highway from Haines, you can find the Mosquito Lake State Recreation Site on Mosquito Lake Road. This small day use area is nestled in a Western hemlock and Sitka spruce forest, right next to Mosquito Lake, which provides excellent fishing for cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char. There are a few campsites, but no restrooms.
The Chilkat Islands State Marine Park is just a group of islands located below the Chilkat State Park. Covering 6,560 acres, these islands are best accessed by kayak for the ultimate outdoors adventurers for camping, fishing, and wildlife viewing.
On the south end of Sullivan Island, and 20 air miles from Haines, you can find the Sullivan Island State Marine Park. Spreading over 2,720 acres, this is another spot where kayaks are the best way to access as the beach is rocky and winds are unpredictable. Camping and fishing are great here.
Wherever you visit in Haines, expect to see abundant wildlife, including many types of fish, birds such as bald eagles, harlequin ducks, and boreal owls, brown and black bears, lynx, wolves, and moose. Marine life can also be spotted, and if you are lucky, you can see killer and humpback whales, harbor porpoises, harbor seals and Stellar sea lions.
Dogs are welcome in these state parks, but must remain leashed in most areas. They can go off leash in the backcountry, but must be good with voice commands. Always have supplies for both you and your pup's safety, including water. Clean-up bags should always be on hand too.
There are fees for taking vehicles into the parks, camping and launching boats. An annual parking permit costs $50, or $10 per day. Boat launch permits carry a charge of $100 for one year or $10 per day. Camping charges vary between $10 a night to $45 a night depending on the type of site selected. Yearly permits are valid for all Alaska State Parks, not just the Haines Area.
For a unique adventure in some of the wildest country in the U.S., check out the Haines state parks with your pup.