Orcas Cove Kayak and Hike 5.25 hour tour

Sea kayaking and hiking far from the crowds of Ketchikan.

Small boat cruise from Ketchikan to Orcas Cove, sea kayaking, a hike in Alaska's temperate rainforest and a delicious snack of smoked salmon and hot cocoa. What better way to spend a day in Ketchikan?  The 5.25 hour Orcas Cove Boat, Kayak and Hike Tour is an opportunity to be immersed in the wilderness and enjoy both kayaking and hiking in a remote location that is accessible only by boat. The tour is offered by request only, and is ideal for adventurous travelers, experienced sea kayakers, or physically fit folks looking to spend quality time in the wilderness. There is no sugar coating: this is a genuine adventure with some challenging paddling and rough terrain both on shore and on the trail. If you are looking to get off the beaten path and experience Alaska like a local, this is the tour for you. 

This tour is operated under Special Use Permit from the USFS. We are an equal opportunity service provider.

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


Duration: 5.25 Hours

Price: $219 Adults/$189 Children (8 - 15)

Tour Highlights

  • Small boat cruise to Orcas Cove
  • 3 + hrs sea kayaking with friendly naturalist guides
  • 30 - 45 minutes rainforest hike
  • Excellent opportunities to enjoy wilderness and spot wildlife
  • Snacks for the trail and smoked salmon picnic

What's Included

  • Meeting on the cruise ship dock in Ketchikan
  • Waterproof outerwear and rubber boots
  • Snacks on the trail, bottled water, smoked salmon picnic and hot cocoa
  • Dry bags for cameras and personal items

What to Wear and Bring

  • Warm comfortable layers and long socks to wear with boots
  • Cameras and binoculars
  • Hat or cap and sunglasses
  • Gratuities

How to Book the Orcas Cove Boat, Kayak and Hike Tour

This tour is available by request only. Tour runs June - late August usually at between 7:45am and 11:45am. Please book early as there is limited availability. Tour availability may be requested below or over the phone at 1-800-287-1607. 

Our booking and cancellation policies may be found here.

Trip Timing for Cruise Ship Visitors

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. 

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. Our kayaking time is approximately 3 hours.

At the trailhead, guides help everyone ashore and guests will help bring the kayaks safely above the tide line. Relax and enjoy water and a snack before heading up the Black Mountain Trail. Hiking time is about 30 minutes. Our goal is to explore and learn about the verdant temperate rainforest. After hiking we paddle back to the mother-ship and enjoy a picnic of smoked salmon, crackers, cream cheese and hot cocoa before boarding the small boat for the 20 minute ride back to own. The tour ends at our dock in the heart of downtown Ketchikan just a few minutes’ walk from the Creek Street Historic District, restaurants and shopping.

Kayak Hike 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 5.25 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 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 bald 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.

Who should take this tour?

This tour 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 mothership. 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 8 and over. If the kayak and hike sounds a little too long, check out our Orcas Cove and Ketchikan Kayaking Tours.

Orcas Cove has an amazing 20 foot intertidal range to explore by kayak.

What to Wear & Bring

Dressing in layers is the best way to stay comfortable and dry. For the day trip, a good plan is to bring at least one more layer than you think you might need as it can get chilly out on the water. Southeast Sea Kayaks provides kayaking outerwear, rubber boots and dry-bags. We ask that you dress in warm, comfortable layers with long pants for the trail and wear long socks that will work in knee high boots.  We use spray-skirts on the kayaks to help keep you dry. 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. We have a safe place to store purses and backpacks while you are paddling.

How to Find the Tour Meeting Point

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.

This tour is operated under Special Use Permit from the USFS. We are an equal opportunity service provider.

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.