Hiking the Lower Dewey Lake Trail at Skagway

With good weather continuing, I’m still not spending much time at home, so I’m getting further and further behind with my postings here (as well as a few other projects). I got up at 1:00 to watch a good Northern Lights show this morning, and decided to just stay up and work on telling you about last Thursday, when Monty and I went to Skagway and, among other things, hiked up to and around Lower Dewey Lake. The weather forecast wasn’t great, but I had some important stuff to pick up at the post office in Skagway, so went anyway.

On the way, I stopped at the Yukon Suspension Bridge to meet the new manager, Kim Fletcher, and to see what changes are happening at the facility. For me, the best change is the construction of a new deck that offers this view, which is the best view yet.
Yukon Suspension Bridge
Our tour got slowed down a few times by Kim’s adorable new puppy, Alice 🙂 Even in a normal world, Alice would stop people, but that’s especially true when everyone you meet is away from home and many are missing their own dogs.
Yukon Suspension Bridge

The people who buy my guide to the South Klondike Highway get a discounted admission to the suspension bridge, and I met a family there who had a copy. It’s always fun to pose for a photo for them.

Continuing south, I drove into the clouds from a few kilometers around the White Pass summit. That wasn’t unexpected from the forecast I’d seen. That’s Summit Lake ahead in this photo, a couple of miles before the world turned all white and misty.
Low clouds on the South Klondike Highway
After picking up my package at the post office, I headed over to the trail access. It used to be a very informal sort of area, but a few years ago, a fence was built between the train tracks and Pullen Creek.
Trail along Pullen Creek in Skagway, Alaska
Pullen Creek is a salmon spawning creek, and it was loaded with fish. It’s illegal to touch the fish, but I only saw only one small sign, and it was facing the wrong way for people to see it as they walk up to the creek.
Sign saying not to touch spawning salmon in Pullen Creek, Skagway, Alaska
Monty is fascinated by the fish, and we spent quite a while there. He doesn’t go after them, he just studies them, and sometimes has a sniff of a dead one – the look on his face always makes me wonder what he’s thinking.
Spawning salmon in Pullen Creek, Skagway, Alaska
Spawning salmon in Pullen Creek, Skagway, Alaska
A video is probably better to show you what the experience is like, so I shot this 3-minute one.
This is the start of the Dewey Lakes trail system – town is to the left, the lakes to the right. Monty and I started up the trail a few minutes after noon Alaska time.
Start of the Dewey Lakes trail system in Skagway
The trail starts off quite steeply, and a few hundred feet up, splits. Lower and Upper Dewey Lakes and Sturgill’s Landing are to the right, Icy Lake and Upper Reid Falls straight ahead. There’s a printable map of the Lower Dewey Lake trail we took here.
Dewey Lakes trail system at Skagway, Alaska
You may have noticed lately that forest trails aren’t generally my first choice (I hadn’t been on this one in many years), but I do love a coastal rain forest, and especially the creeks that run through them.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
A rock outcrop allowed this view of the harbour and the cruise ship Disney Wonder.
The Disney Wonder cruise ship in Skagway, Alaska
The route of the trail has changed a lot over the years – this old one is signed “Dead End”.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
The trail is steep enough that many people soon give up. Just 10 minutes up, a crew was working on building steps up a granite outcropping.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
Plenty of switchbacks help ease the grade, but hikers find out in a hurry whether they’re in as good a shape as they thought.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
Monty is great on a leash when he needs to be (Cathy says so am I 🙂 ). This extendaleash allows him a fair degree of freedom when nobody is around, but allows me to quickly reel him in close when we meet people.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
Lots of choices, 20 minutes up the trail.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
Just before reaching the lake, a couple of large interpretive signs do an excellent job of describing the history of the lake’s development.
Dewey Lakes Hydroelectric Project sign, Skagway
We reached Lower Dewey Lake at 12:30, less than 25 minutes from the start of the trail. And, of course, I made lots of photo stops along the way.
Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway Alaska
Looking back at the lake’s outlet from the same spot as the photo above.
Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway Alaska
We walked around the lake loop trail counter-clockwise, so started on the old road that was used during the dam construction in 1898.
Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
The trail goes along the top of the rock-and-earth dam at the south end of the lake. We reached here at 12:50.
Dam on the Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
The railway that was used to haul material along the dam during construction.
Dam on the Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
The main reason I hadn’t been on this trail in so many years is that I remember it as being crowded. We saw very few people, though, except on the first 10 minutes or so of the trail. The lake itself was very peaceful.
Lower Dewey Lake, Skagway Alaska
Devil’s club along the trail. Pretty, just don’t touch it!
Devil's Club along Lower Dewey Lake Trail, Skagway
The trail on the east side of the lake is much rougher, including navigating a couple of large rock slides.
Lower Dewey Lake Loop Trail, Skagway
This pretty section of trail is near the north end of the lake, just before you finish the loop. This photo was shot at 1:23.
Lower Dewey Lake Loop Trail, Skagway Alaska

Going back down the trail was very quick – we were back at the car by about 1:45. It turned out to be an excellent hike, much better than I had expected. There are a few spots around the lake that would be great places to have a picnic on a hot day. Next year 🙂

It’s now almost 5:30 – with sunshine coming again, it’s time to start planning the day’s adventure, to another remote lake by 4×4 with my fur-buddy.

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