Icehouse Cove Kayak and Hike

5.5 Hours

$239 Adults/$209 Children (8 - 15) 

Islands and coves to explore by kayak.

This is how Alaskans love to spend their summer days: paddling, hiking and a picnic lunch and for the adventurous traveler, this tour is an opportunity to spend some quality time in the wilderness of Southeast Alaska.  The 5.5 hour Icehouse Cove Kayak and Hike tour combines kayaking at Orcas Cove with an opportunity to enjoy lunch on shore and explore the amazing Tongass National Forest on a short hike along the Black Mountain Trail. There is no sugar coating here: this is a genuine adventure with some challenging paddling and uneven, rocky, slippery terrain on shore and on the trail. Our kayaking time is about 3 hours, with a break in the middle for lunch on shore and a short hike. We do not aim to hike a great distance, our goal is to explore the rainforest and learn a little of the ecology. All day trip participants are outfitted with rain pants and rubber boots as the trail is rugged and can be slippery.  Unless you have a private group, each tour is limited to 6 participants which makes it easy for guides to tailor the day to the group's abilities and interests.

My family of four, including two teenage kids, had a great day doing the "Explorer" day trip. Our guide, Brandon, was enthusiastic and informative as he shared his love of the area. The rainforest was magical (and soggy--good thing the company provides excellent footgear!)

Robert H on TripAdvisor

Who should take this tour?

The day trip is designed for people seeking a more challenging wilderness experience. We recommend this trip for people who are physically fit and adventurous. Ideally participants will have kayaked before as we aim to paddle a good distance. The shoreline we explore is slippery and rocky and our hike has an elevation gain of about 500 feet. There are only nature's bathroom facilities once we leave the mother-ship. Our guides need at least one member of the group to be able to help move the 90lb kayaks above the tide zone. We recommend this tour for families with children aged 10 and over and an adult to paddle with each child under 16 (we can book children as young as 8 for private family groups). If you are not sure that you are up for a challenge, check out our Orcas Cove and Ketchikan Kayaking Tours.

Hiking the Black Mountain Trail.

Tour Details

Guides meet guests at the Liquid Sunshine Gauge at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau on the Cruise Ship Dock which is just a short walk from downtown hotels and from our floating office. The day begins with outfitting for your Alaskan adventure: paddle jackets, rain pants, dry-bags for cameras and rubber boots are provided. We take a 20 minute small boat ride past the Ketchikan Creek, Saxman Totem Park and Mountain Point before heading across to Orcas Cove.  Our friendly guides give a brief safety orientation and we head off on our paddling adventure. The area is accessible only by boat and changes remarkably with the tide. There are islands, tidal cliffs, rock gardens, salmon streams and secluded coves to explore by kayak.

In Icehouse Cove, guides help everyone ashore and guests will help bring the kayaks safely above the tide line.  We string up a tarp for shelter if it is raining and relax and enjoy a picnic lunch of sandwiches, chips and cookies. After lunch we head up the Black Mountain Trail to explore the verdant temperate rainforest and learn a little about the Tongass. Hiking time is about 30 minutes. We paddle back to the mother-ship and board the small boat for the 20 minute ride back to Ketchikan. The day ends at our dock in the heart of downtown Ketchikan just a few minutes walk from he cruise ship docks, historic district and shopping.

Scenery and Wildlife

The area around Orcas Cove has a fascinating shoreline for paddlers and kayaking is a quiet and peaceful way to experience this wilderness. The views of the surrounding islands and 3,000 foot mountains rising from the ocean are breathtaking  The 20 foot tidal range creates an ever changing intertidal zone. At high tide paddlers can venture into streams and coves that run dry at low tide and paddle right alongside the lush temperate rainforest. When the tide is low paddlers see an amazing array of intertidal invertebrates along the cliffs between Orcas Cove and Icehouse Cove including sea stars, anemones, sea cucumbers, and Chitons. Our hike takes us into the rainforest along a trail with both Red and Yellow Cedar trees, Western Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, Shore Pine and hundreds of species of shrub, fungi, moss and lichen.

Guide points out Tlingit pictographs believed to be over 100 years old.

Spending almost all of our 5.5 hours on the water and in the forest gives us great opportunities to see wildlife. While we never know what wildlife we will see on any given day, we often encounter marine mammals on  the small boat journey or while we are kayaking. Harbor seals, Steller's sea lions, Orcas and humpback whales all inhabit the waters. From late June through the end of September pacific salmon leap out of the water as they return to their streams to spawn. Along the shore we may see mink, river otter, Sitka black-tailed deer and black bear. There are several active bale eagle nests close to Orcas Cove and we frequently encounter these great birds. Kingfishers, ravens and blue heron are resident birds often seen along the shore while woodpeckers, grouse and ptarmigan may be seen on the trail. May, early June and September are excellent months for migratory birds.

How to Book & Cancellation Policy

We run the Icehouse Cove Kayak & hike tour only once per day, so advance bookings are highly recommended to avoid disappointment. Tours may be reserved online or over the phone at 1-800-287-1607. 

We take payment in full at time of booking. Tickets are fully refundable, less a $25 processing fee, if cancelled at least 14 days before the trip date. Cancellations with less than 14 days prior notice are non-refundable. We do offer a full refund in the unlikely event that your Cruise Ship is running too late for your trip to be re-scheduled, or if your cruise ship misses port. Southeast Sea Kayaks reserves the right to cancel trips for unsafe conditions (occasionally we have high winds) in which case all money will be refunded in full. Rain is not unsafe - we will dress you for the weather. All participants must sign a waiver, a copy is available on our FAQ page

Plenty of time to paddle and explore the islands and shoreline.

Booking for Groups

Kayaking is a great fun activity for groups of family and friends traveling together. We can accommodate up to 12 guests per trip on the Icehouse Cove Kayak & Hike tour and we offer a discount to groups of 10 or more who book together. Please call or email us for available tour times and how to book for groups.

What to Wear & Bring

Kayaking in Alaska is all about staying warm and dry. For the kayak and hike tour, Southeast Sea Kayaks provides kayaking outerwear, rubber boots and dry-bags so that our guests do not need to bring any special gear or clothing. We ask that you dress in warm, comfortable layers with long pants for the trail and wear socks that will work in knee high boots. Paddling jackets and rain pants are provided, so most guests will leave their outerwear in the office and wear our jackets for paddling. We use spray-skirts on the kayaks to help keep you dry. Sneakers, sport sandals or rubber boots are ideal for foot wear rather than large hiking boots which tend to be too bulky for the kayaks.  A baseball cap or brimmed hat is great on sunny or rainy days and sunglasses are also a good idea. Please do not be afraid to bring cameras: dry bags are provided to protect your camera or video recorder and any other small items you would like to bring on the kayaks with you. everything that we take out on he water will be in a dry bag; we have a safe place to store purses and backpacks while you are paddling.

Trip Timing for Cruise Ship Visitors

Cruise ship visitors will meet us at the "Liquid Sunshine" or  Rain Gauge at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau. Visitors staying locally  can meet at the Rain Gauge or at our store location. We ask everyone  to aim to be at the Rain Gauge at least 5 minutes early as we depart the Rain Gauge at the trip time. There are restrooms available at the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau next to the Rain Gauge. If you are arriving by cruise  ship, please allow 15 minutes from the time your ship docks to your  trip's starting time and allow 1 hour between your trip's finishing time and the departure time for your cruise ship.  Unfortunately, we cannot fit this tour into every cruise ship's port time, however we will do our best to make it work. Occasionally we also run trips that depart as soon as a ship arrives, so if you do not see the space that you need for your group, please call  or email us.

A beautiful and relaxing way to spend a summer day.  

Looking for More Information?

See our Frequently Asked Questions, read our Top 5 Reasons to take a Southeast Sea Kayaks tour, see what is happening on our Blog or learn more About Us. Questions? Please call us at 1-800-287-1607 or send us an email. We are open year round and are always happy to answer questions and help you find the right tour.