SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, July 30

Senior Hiking July 2015

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, July 30. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead.

Normally, the group usually picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Bridget Kratz at 747-6859 or email her at The calendar below includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• July 2015 calendar of Sitka SAIL ORCA events

New trail traffic counters installed at Sitka National Historical Park


SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignHave you noticed little brown boxes on some of Sitka National Historical Park’s trailside signs?

The park recently installed four traffic counters along the park’s scenic trails. The trail counters are not cameras, they simply provide park managers with an accurate count of the number of people who recreate on the park’s trails. This information is used for annual reporting requirements, budgeting purposes, and maintenance requests.

The original counters were installed in 2014 without protection cases, but were damaged by vandals and the weather.  The counters and their batteries are now encased in brown boxes to protect them from the elements, specifically rain.

Also, a reminder to all cyclists that people are to walk their bicycles through the park trails, not ride them. This is for safety reasons, as there are many elders and children hiking on the trails who may not hear the bikes coming up behind them. In addition, the restriction on biking helps prevent erosion and other damage to the trails. And a reminder that metal detectors are prohibited in all national parks, including Sitka National Historical Park.

Since 2011, there have been no fees collected at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center, which includes the cultural center where Native carving is demonstrated. The only fees are at the Russian Bishop’s House, which uses this fee schedule.

Please sign our petition to reduce the default speed limit to 20 mph in Sitka neighborhoods


An online petition has been launched to make 20 mph the default speed limit in Sitka neighborhoods to improve safety. Please sign the petition, so we can take the results to the Sitka Assembly and whichever commissions need to act on this.

Recently the states of Washington and Oregon changed their laws to allow communities to reduce the speed limits in residential neighborhoods to 20 mph for safety reasons. This is part of an international campaign called “20 is Plenty” trying to make neighborhood streets safer for pedestrians. The 20 is Plenty campaign also has been integrated into the “Vision Zero” programs in many states, including New York, Washington, and Oregon, to eliminate pedestrian and cycling deaths.

In Sitka, many of our residential neighborhoods have higher speed limits. For example, Marine Street is all residential except for one church but the speed limit is 25 mph and many cars drive faster on this street where lots of kids play (there is a playground a block away). Slowing down speeds in our neighborhoods helps make it safer for kids and elders, especially since some neighborhoods have no sidewalks.

Also, if someone gets hit by a car at 20 mph they are more likely to survive than if they get hit at 25 mph or higher speeds. The odds of death in a car-pedestrian collision are 5 percent for 20 mph, compared to 45 percent for 30 mph and 85 percent for 40 mph. Sitka already has a 15 mph speed limit on Katlian Street, so why not make the default speed limit for residential neighborhoods 20 mph. This link has more information about why 20 is plenty.

• Click this link to sign the petition.

SEARHC to kick off community-wide ‘Walk For The Health Of It’ on Saturday, June 27


The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is hosting a five-week “Walk for the Health of It” event June 27 through July 31.

The community-wide event aims at encouraging all Sitkans to improve their health by walking at least 150 minutes a week. That’s just 20 to 30 minutes a day.

The kick-off event is at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 27, in the front parking lot of S’áxt’ Hít Mount Edgecumbe Hospital. SEARHC physical therapist, Gio Villanueva will lead the opening stretch, and the first 100 participants will receive a free water bottle.

According the American Heart Association, out of countless physical activities, walking has the lowest dropout rate of them all. Research also has shown the benefits of walking and moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day can help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, improve blood pressure and blood sugar levels, maintain body weight and lower the risk of obesity, enhance mental well-being, reduce the risk of osteoporosis, reduce the risk of breast and colon cancer, and reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Participation in “Walk For The Health Of It” is easy. Registration can be completed online at or by using a paper form. Forms are available at Mount Edgecumbe Hospital or the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center where participants may also pick up a walking card to track daily walking activity. Walking may be tracked in minutes, steps or distance.

Each Friday completed walking cards are to be turned in at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center or Mount Edgecumbe Hospital. Those cards then will be entered into a drawing for a fun prize.

For more information, please contact Lesa Way at 966-8804 or

St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church to host summer Scripture Walks in the Park at Sitka National Historical Park

Rev. Julie Platson, the new priest in charge at St. Peter's By The Sea Episcopal Church, sprinkles holy water during a recent blessing service at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm. She and her church will lead a series of scripture walks this summer at Sitka National Historical Park.

Rev. Julie Platson, the new priest in charge at St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, sprinkles holy water during a recent blessing service at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. She and her church will lead a series of scripture walks this summer at Sitka National Historical Park.

St Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church invites the community to join it on Monday evenings for Scripture Walks in the Park. The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, from June 29 through Aug. 24, at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor’s Center.

“It was just an idea I came up with for a  summer offering. I thought it made sense to combine a casual walk with the beauty of God’s creation here in Sitka,” said Rev. Julie Platson, the new priest in charge at St. Peter’s.

Two of the walks, on July 27 and Aug. 17, are geared for families and they will end at the church (611 Lincoln Street) for a potluck dinner.

Also, don’t forget to get a Park Prescriptions card at the park’s visitor center to log your walks in the park, so you can have a chance to win quarterly prizes for each completed card.

For more info, please call the church at 747-3977 or email

• Information sheet about Scripture Walks in the Park 2015

Sitka National Historical Park adds downtown Russian-American history walk to its offerings


SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignThe Sitka National Historical Park offers a series of short hikes within the park detailing Sitka’s history and culture. Now the park is expanding its offerings with a free Russian-American history downtown walking tour starting this week.

These tours will give participants a chance to learn more about Sitka’s Russian heritage and its role as the administrative capital of Russian America. Tours will begin at the Russian Bishop’s House and end on top of Castle Hill. Stops along the way will include St. Michael’s Cathedral, Building 29 (Log Cache Gift Shop), and the Russian blockhouse.

The first downtown Russian-American history walks will be at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 17, and at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 18. The hike is about a half mile and takes about an hour. Weekly schedules for these walks will be posted around town, at the park, on the park website, and in the Daily Sitka Sentinel.

For more information, contact the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor Center at 747-0110.

RAWT FlierFinal 6.15

State parks closure prompts National Trails Day maintenance by Sitka Trail Works

Mosquito Cove Trail photo by Matt Goff of

Mosquito Cove Trail photo by Matt Goff of

SitkaTrailWorksLogoDo you ever visit Halibut Point Recreation Area, Mosquito Cove Trail, the Forest and Muskeg Trail, Old Sitka, Castle Hill or Fort Rousseau? These are Sitka’s Alaska State Parks and their future is threatened.

Proposed budget cuts this year zero out all support for the Sitka parks in the Alaska State Parks system, and local state park ranger Nick True will be moved out of Sitka. In addition, the plan is to close the local Alaska State Parks office, and eliminate the part-time staff and campground hosts who help maintain these sites.

Sitka will still have state parks, but there will be no garbage pick-up, bear control, reservations for picnic sites, trail maintenance, or brush control.

ntd_2013_copyright2_rgb-1024x1019As part of the American Hiking Society’s 23rd annual National Trails Day on Saturday, June 6, Sitka Trail Works will host a trail maintenance event at the Mosquito Cove Trail. This volunteer work party will be led by the Sitka Trail Works board of directors.

All volunteers are encouraged to meet at the Mosquito Cove Trailhead at 9:15 a.m. (the trailhead is located seven miles from downtown Sitka on Halibut Point Road and is three-quarters of a mile beyond the ferry terminal, past Starrigavan Campground). The Mosquito Cove Trail is part of the Old Sitka State Historical Park.

“National Trails Day encourages Americans to connect with local outdoor clubs, businesses, community groups, and parks and recreation departments, as well as federal land managing agencies, to experience, appreciate, and share the natural places we cherish,” Sitka Trail Works said.