The Mount Edgecumbe Trail lies on Kruzof Island across Sitka Sound from the town of Sitka on Alaska's southwest coast, and is only reachable by a 30 to 45-minute boat ride over sometimes rough waters. Regardless, Sitka residents and visitors are familiar with the dormant volcano's imposing presence to the west, and many travel to the island to hike it. The views from the rim are spectacular, and include Sitka and the Sound along with Baranof Island to the east, and the open Pacific Ocean to the west. The fog and clouds often obscure the route you've traveled, and the base of the volcano can be dramatically shrouded, which makes for a sense of being on another world.
The approach to the Kruzof Island beach is shallow and rocky, so you'll have to take a dinghy from the boat. Once landed, you'll have a short walk to Fred's Cabin, a shelter near the beach, and where the trail begins, about 50 yards away. The well-developed trail to the volcano base is mostly flat and easy for the first 4 miles, and you'll find yourself walking among hemlocks and spruce, followed by large swaths of muskeg (swampy, decomposing vegetation) over which boardwalks have been placed. The second leg of the hike is uphill, at first gradual, but becoming steeper and steeper until you're climbing at about a 45-degree incline over grassy meadow. Once clear of the treeline, the surface becomes rocky and covered with fine, red ash, and the trail stops. Cedar posts lead the way from here, although on a clear day, you won't need them to find your way to the top. It's when the fog has settled around you that you need the posts to guide you.
A 3-sided shelter and a flat tent site allow for overnight camping, but there are no amenities, so be prepared to collect and carry out waste and trash. Once you reach the rim, whatever discomfort you felt during the climb will evaporate as you breathlessly take in the 360-degree vistas in this untamed place.
While this is not a hike for the faint-hearted, many people have successfully reached the top and the effort is well worth it. You and your canine hiking companion will definitely be glad you came.
Near the end of this hike, there is loose terrain and slippery, powdery pumice left from the volcano's last eruption. The incline is extremely steep and fog can severely limit visibility. The wind near the top can be fierce and cold. Wear layers of clothing, carry plenty of water, and equip yourself with good, broken-in hiking shoes. You are likely to see bears on this hike, so be aware and prepared.