Sitka National Historical Park

Nina Evangelista 3/28/13

Map of hiking trails

Two loop trails pass through this park and are used by walkers, runners, skiers and others. The trail is a 1.5 mile loop.

Map of Facilities

Directions from Palestine HIgh School to DFW Airport

1. Head northeast on TX-256 Loop N toward Benbrook Dr -5.6 mi

2. Take the ramp onto TX-19 N/​U.S. 287 N/​W Spring St -2.1 mi

3. Turn left onto U.S. 287 N -52.1 mi

4. Turn right to merge onto I-45 N -55.2 mi

5. Take exit 284A to merge onto I-30 W -2.1 mi

6. Take exit 44A to merge onto I-35E N toward Denton -5.2 mi

7. Keep left to continue on TX-183 W -2.5 mi

8. Keep left to stay on TX-183 W, follow signs for Ft Worth/​DFW South Entry -7.3 mi

9. Take the exit toward DFW Airport -0.9 mi

10. Merge onto TX-97 Spur -1.6 mi

Partial toll road

11. Continue onto International Pkwy -2.6 mi

Toll road

12. Take the exit on the left -479 ft

13. Keep right at the fork, follow signs for Terminal A -0.3 mi

14. Continue straight -0.1 mi

Destination will be on the left

From DFW Airport Fly to Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Aiport

From Sitka Rocky Gutierrez Aiport to Sitka National Historical Park

1. Head southeast on Airport Rd toward Charcoal Dr -0.8 mi

2. Continue onto Harbor Dr -1.0 mi

3. Turn right onto Lincoln St -0.6 mi

4. Continue onto Metlakatla St -348 fr

Destination will be on the right


Sitka National Historical Park is located on the western coast of mountainous Baranof Island at the mouth of the Indian River. Baranof Island is one of the most rugged of all the islands in southeast Alaska, with many high peaks and several glaciers at high elevations. The area experiences a maritime climate characterized by relatively heavy precipitation with moderate temperatures. Though relatively small, the park contains a variety of habitat types including temperate rainforest, open meadow, estuary, anadromous river, and semi-protected marine intertidal shoreline. The park’s vegetation is dominated by the coastal temperate rainforest and is characterized by the Sitka spruce/western hemlock closed-canopy forest type. The northeastern corner of the park exhibits old-growth characteristics such as multiple canopy layers, trees of varying diameters, snags, and woody debris. Non-forested areas in the park include the Indian River estuary and associated wetlands, the beach fringe, and the historic Tlingit fort site, which is a maintained grassy opening enclosed by the surrounding forest. The marine intertidal area is unusually diverse and productive. The park’s marine shoreline areas support a variety of migratory waterfowl and shorebirds during spring and fall. Bald eagles, gulls, crows, and ravens scavenge along the tidal flats and the river, especially during the spring herring spawn and fall salmon runs. Shrews, mice, voles, red squirrels, mink, and river otters also inhabit the park. Sitka blacktail deer and brown bears occupy the upper Indian River drainage and occasionally enter the park.

Ecological Balances in the Stream

Various organisms help keep balance in the streams.

Flatworms (Turbellaria): Predators and collector-gatherers. They are sometime found on dead salmon.

Water Mites (Hydracarina): These are predators or parasites depending on life stage.

Aquatic Earthworms (Oligochaeta): Collector-gatherers.


The park's intertidal and shoreline areas support a variety of migratory waterfowl and shore birds during spring and fall. Sea birds such as common murres, scoters, harlequin ducks, scaup, buffleheads, and long-tailed ducks commonly use the park waters, particularly in winter. Many passerine birds use the park for breeding, a wintering ground, or a migratory stopover including pine siskins, savanna sparrows, varied, hermit, and Swainson's thrushes, robins, Townsend's warblers, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, kingfishers, dippers, and winter wrens. Resident birds including common mergansers, mallards, spotted sandpipers, and great blue herons use the estuary, river, and tidal flats for foraging and protection. Gulls, crows, and ravens scavenge along the tidal flats and the river. Bald eagles are common in the general area, especially during the spring herring spawn and fall salmon runs, when eagles feed on fish carcasses in the river and adjacent tidal flats. At least one bald eagle nest is present in the park.

An aquatic resource survey completed in 1995 revealed that in general, fish habitat suitability in the lower reaches of the Indian River is limited by a lack of pool habitat, few deep pools, and lack of cover.

Mammal species such as shrews, mice, voles, red tree squirrels, mink, and river otters inhabit the park. Brown bears occupy the Indian River drainage and occasionally enter the park, often at the beginning of the salmon runs. Sitka blacktail deer also occasionally enter and forage in the park but are discouraged from doing so because of the development and human activity around the park. However, visitors observed the birth of a fawn on the morning of June 3, 1999 at the fort site.

Peregrine falcons have recently been delisted but are still species of concern. The Peale's (Pacific) peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus pealei) lives and breeds in the area, and the Arctic peregrine falcon may pass through the area as a transient, primarily during seasonal migration. No endangered or threatened mammal species is known to inhabit the park. The endangered humpback whale and the threatened Steller sea lion are commonly sighted in marine waters around Sitka.

Devil's Club is found throughout the park. The plant is valued by the Tlingit people for its medicinal properties.

Temperatures and Precipitation

Month Avg. High Avg. Low Avg. Precipitation

Jan 40°F 32°F 8.38 in.

Feb 41°F 32°F 6.72 in.

Mar 43°F 33°F 6.15 in.

Apr 48°F 37°F 4.35 in.

May 53°F 42°F 4.23 in.

Jun 58°F 48°F 2.89 in.

Jul 60°F 52°F 4.12 in.

Aug 62°F 52°F 6.87 in.

Sep 58°F 48°F 11.75 in.

Oct 51°F 42°F 12.95 in.

Nov 44°F 35°F 9.78 in.

Dec 41°F 33°F 8.85 in.


Sitka National Historical Park, Alaska's oldest federally designated park, was established as a federal park in 1890. It became a national monument in 1910 to commemorate the 1804 Battle of Sitka fought between the Tlingits and the Russians. All that remains of this last major conflict between Europeans and natives of the Northwest Coast is a clearing at the site of a Kiks Fort. Many poles exhibited along the park's two miles of wooded pathways are replicas of the original totem poles. The park's story continues at the Russian Bishop's House, one of the last surviving examples of Russian colonial architecture in North America. This original 1843 log structure conveys the legacy of Russian America through exhibits, refurbished living quarters and the Chapel of the Annunciation. The majority of the park overlies surficial deposits derived primarily from graywacke, schist, and phyllite. These surficial deposits include alluvium on Indian River's floodplain, estuary, and stream terrace; ablation till on the lateral moraine; and beach sands and gravel on the uplifted beach and uplifted beach meadow. The source rocks for all these deposits are the steep mountain sideslopes and cirque walls, located at the head of Indian River and its tributaries, which were formed during local alpine glaciation. Deglaciation occurred sometime before 10,000 years ago. The land mass associated with the park was under water during the marine transgressions resulting from deglaciation. Since then, the beach deposits have been worked many times by wave action and Indian River. Deglaciation was followed by isostatic rebound, the upward movement of a land mass responding to the removal of the thick mass of ice from the glacier. It is estimated that the total rebound to present in the Sitka area has been approximately 35 feet. Rebound is now occurring in the Sitka area at approximately 0.13 inches per year.

What should you do?

If you had two days in the park you could take some time to look at the exhibits, participate in any one of the regularly scheduled ranger programs, take a stroll along the park trail to see the totem poles and the migrating salmon, or borrow a family fun pack to explore the beach.If you had a week to spend in the park you could learn about Tlingit Culture & Art, experience Russian America's Legacy, explore the natural environment, watch "The Voices of Sitka", and with a little work, you can even become a Sitka National Historical Park Junior Ranger!