Accessing the Situk River
Nine Mile Bridge/Campground/Situk River Trails
The Nine Mile Boat Launch and Campsites are located where Forest Highway 10 crosses the Situk River nine miles east of Yakutat. From this site anglers can launch a boat to float downstream, hike and fish along one of the trails that depart from the area, or camp at one of 6 tent platforms located at the campground. Restroom facilities, a picnic shelter, and parking are also available at the site.
Across from the campground on the east side of the river, trails lead up and downstream. The upstream trail is short and goes only a half mile to the confluence of the main river and the Westfork tributary. Anglers should watch out for redds (gravel beds where fish lay eggs) and spawning fish in this area. To protect spawning fish, a closed area is located two miles above the Nine Mile Campground. This section of river extends for two miles and is closed to all fishing for most for the steelhead season.
The downstream trail system is more extensive. This trail follows the river for a mile then turns inland, crosses the Old Situk, and returns to the river at the Forest Service’s Eagle and Raven Cabins. Along the way a spur trail leads to a popular fishing spot at the confluence of the Situk and Old Situk Rivers. Another spur continues downstream past the cabins for another half mile. Hiking this trail requires fording the Old Situk River, so waders are necessary. An ATV trail also connects the lower portion of this trail with FH10. ATV travel through the Old Situk River is not permitted.
The Lower Landing
The lower Situk River is accessible from the terminus of Lost River Road. Tides bring fresh salmon and steelhead trout to the lower river, making this area very popular. Anglers have the option of parking at the boat landing at the end of the Lost River Road and hiking upstream, or parking at the Maggie John Trailhead and hiking into the Situk River along the trail. The Maggie John Trail extends for about three miles upstream along the west bank of the Situk River. This area is subject to tidal flow from the nearby estuary, so consult a tide table for optimum fishing at the lower landing.
In recent years several native allotments have been granted along the lower Situk River. This means some of the land around the mouth of the river is privately owned and camping is prohibited in these areas. Look out for signs, be informed, and be respectful of private lands.
Anglers can also hike the Situk Lake Trail to access Situk Lake, Mountain Stream, and the upper Situk River. This three mile trail begins at the end of Road 9955. Road 9955 or the East Gate Road begins just under two miles east of Nine Mile Bridge on Forest Highway 10. This area is not plowed and may not be accessible in the spring. A spur trail connects the Situk Lake Trail with FH10 a few hundred yards past the bridge; however, this trail receives little use and can be difficult to follow. Bring a GPS and be able to use it.
There is a Forest Service cabin at the end of the Situk Lake Trail. From the Situk Lake Cabin, anglers can continue along the Mountain Lake Trail and fish along Mountain Stream. Other possibilities include hiking or paddling around the lake and fishing the upper Situk River below its outlet. Situk Lake is also accessible by float plane.
Floating the River
One of the most popular options for anglers visiting the Yakutat Ranger District is a day float of the Situk River. Anglers can launch boats at Nine Mile Bridge and float the 13 miles to the lower landing. There are several ways to pursue this option: going with a guide authorized to operate on the Situk River in a drift or jet boat, renting a drift boat from a local lodge, or bringing your own inflatable raft, kayak or other paddle craft.
There are some important considerations implicit in any float trip on the Situk River. There is no road access between the put-in and take-out on the river. It is a short drive from town, but once you launch your boat, help or rescue quickly gets farther away. The water is cold enough to cause hypothermia even in July. You should bring all the appropriate safety equipment for any Alaskan river float. If you don’t know what that entails, then you should consider making your first trip down the Situk River with an experienced guide.
The Situk River displays a fairly wide range of flow conditions. The Situk River flow can range from less than 100 cubic feet per second (cfs) to over 1,000 cfs throughout the season. If the river is flowing at less than 100 cfs, then be prepared for a long float with the possibility of some strenuous dragging of your boat. Even at moderate and high flows, floating the Situk River is at least a six hour trip. It is very easy to get sidetracked fishing or lingering in the upper river and then return to the lower landing very late. A good measure to keep in mind while you float is that you should pass the Eagle and Raven Cabins about a third of the way into your planned day. While the Situk River has no traditional white water, there are many tree snags, sweepers, and strainers along the length of the river. These are especially hazardous during high flows.
Cabins, Campsites and Camping
For those anglers who don’t mind sacrificing comfort to be closer to the fish, there are several options to spend the night along the Situk.
Three Forest Service rental cabins offer a warm, dry place to stay along the Situk River. Located a little over three miles downstream from Nine Mile Bridge, the Eagle and Raven Cabins are especially popular with anglers seeking to extend a day float down the river into a multi-day excursion. The Situk Lake Cabin can usually only be accessed in the late spring, summer, and fall.
It is also possible to camp along the Situk River. There are six campsites with tent platforms and fire rings around Nine Mile Bridge. Camping around Nine Mile Bridge is limited to these designated sites only. Groups are allowed to stay at campsites up to 10 days at a time. There are many good campsites located along the length of the Situk River between the boat launches. Camping within 50 feet of the high-water line of the river is prohibited. This means no camping on gravel bars. Remember a good campsite is found, not made. It should not be necessary to cut vegetation to create a new site. Please follow Leave No Trace principles and camping in bear country practices while on the river.