Heitman Lake Hike
I joined another Audubon Society hike up the Heitman Lake Trail. Despite the fact that it was drizzling and foggy, Suzanne Hancock, a legislative aid who lives in Kodiak, still led us up the easy mile hike to the lake. We could not see very much due to poor visibility, but we still had fun. On a sunny day it is likely a lovely hike. Suzanne told us that a waterfall could ordinarily be seen in good weather.
Karen, Nick, Tammy, Shawn and Nick also decided to buck the weather and join the hike. They were all local, and had decided that if they allowed rain to stop them from having fun, they would have to live with spending much of the year indoors. It took us all of two hours to complete the two mile round trip to the lake and back. To find the trail, drive east out Chiniak Road 9.2 miles beyond Buskin River Bridge. The trailhead and parking will be on the right side of the road. The parking looks like it was cleared by a bulldozer pushing black rock up into piles a truck’s length away from the road. There are no facilities and no cost to use the trial. Ordinarily the Audubon Society charges $2 for their guided hikes, but Suzanne decided not to collect. Even at $2, you really cannot beat having an experienced guide lead a hike. I sure appreciated the Audubon Society hikes and look forward to exploring more of the island with them on future trips to Kodiak. They are very well organized, and even publish a hiking guide for those who would like to venture out on their own. The guide can be found at the ferry terminal, Abercrombie Ranger Station and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Information Center next to Buskin River Campground.
The Heitman Lake Trail begins through a marshy area. Waterproof boots are recommended, but a good pair of hiking boots with wool socks can still work even when wet. You may be able to keep dry if you hike on a sunny day, but we were all doomed to soaked feet regardless of what we wore. Once across the first marsh the trail is well worn and relatively easy to follow. It passes through high brush and grasses, including many salmon berry bushes, which promise good eating in July and August. The trail is a gradual climb up to the power line poles. There is a clearing right under one of the poles before the trail begins to climb up again. There are several small creek crossings and marshy spots, but overall the trail was in good shape.
The wildflower population was good along this trail as well. The chocolate lilies were abundant and the blooming salmonberry bushes were a vibrant pink.
Once we arrived at the lake, Nick and his dog Ginger demonstrated that the lake was completely swimmable. Nick estimated the temperature at a balmy 45F. Nick and Suzanne also mentioned that this particular lake is a popular ice skating spot during the winter. It is one of the few lakes nearby that freezes thick enough to support ice skaters.
For those even more adventurous, and those who are less adventurous but have nicer weather and want even better views, the trail continues on past the lake. Rumor has it the trail goes another mile up for some spectacular views and ridges connecting miles of top of the world hiking.
For more information, Nick sponsors his own Kodiak website at www12.virtualtourist.com/m/.190463/2528/?s=S. He posts a lot of helpful information and some helpful tips about making the most of your Kodiak trip.
Last visited June 2002