Crystal Lake on Snowshoes!
The next episode of our Mitkof Island adventure series begins at the base of a majestic peak known as Crystal Mountain. The unmarked trail to Crystal Lake begins at the hydro electric plant next to the Blind Slough Salmon Hatchery.
Bear in mind, this is not a maintained trail and if you intend to go before May you will definitely want to bring snowshoes, but don’t be intimidated, it is well worth the hike.
We started up a very rugged trail that follows the pipeline up the hill for about a half mile before meandering off through the trees. With Finn scouting the trail up ahead and diligently checking on us, we slowly zig-zagged up the mountainside through the forest for another mile or so where we met up again with the hydroelectric pipeline.
After crossing the pipeline the thick forest gives way to large open patches of muskeg. Muskeg is basically soft mossy fields or patches. On this hike however, the muskeg was buried under 3 feet of snow. As soon as the trees start opening up you begin to see the amazing views in almost every direction.
Hiking becomes much easier at this point and the excitement builds as you start to catch glimpses of the lake. We pushed on for the final leg of the hike and were very happy to get a break from the snowshoes.
Upon reaching the shoreline we stopped to grab some snacks before continuing our exploration. Typically, in an unfrozen state, the far shore is nearly impossible to get to so we took the opportunity to circumnavigate the lake.
Cruising along the edge of the ice it was easy to see how much the lake level had dropped since the first freeze up. The original ice layer was neary 3 feet above the current level we were walking on.
After reaching the far side of the lake Finn spent some time sniffing around some caves. On our way back the wind began to pick up and the temperature started dropping. We took that as a cue to start heading back down the mountain, bringing a close to an amazing day of hiking and adventure.
If you ever get a chance to visit Petersburg, Alaska and you are up for an adventure just ask someone, literally anyone here, for directions to Crystal Lake Trail.
After the Petersburg souvenir coffee mug is broken and the Petersburg t-shirt is in the rag pile you will still remember the great experience you earned hiking to Crystal Lake.