Deer Mountain-John Mountain Trail

Towering 3,000 feet above the waterfront, the summit of Deer Mountain is one of Ketchikan's most familiar landmarks. Climbing to the top is also the most popular hike out of Ketchikan, since the trailhead is only .5 mile from downtown. Deer Mountain can be hiked in the better part of a day; although spending 2-3 days to hike the trail from Ketchikan to Silvis Lake is not uncommon.

photo: A view of Ketchikan, Alaska looking northwest from the summit of Deer Mountain. Photo by NorthBySouthBaranof.

Length: 11.00 miles
Loop Trail? No
Type: Backcountry
Agency: USDA Forest Service
Entry Fee? No
Parking Fee? No

Allowed Uses:

Dogs - On leash
Pedestrian - Walking/Hiking/Running
Snow - Cross-country Skiing
Snow - Snowshoeing
Wildlife Observation


See more details.


Location: Tongass National Forest, Misty Fiords Ranger District, At beginning in Ketchikan, connects Blue Lake, Upper Silvis Lake, and the shoreline of George Inlet.
State(s): Alaska
Counties: Ketchikan, Gateway, Borough
Longitude: -131.62302
Latitude: 55.34149

Driving Directions

To access the Deer Mtn. trailhead, walk or drive up the Ketchikan Lakes Road for 1/2 mile, to the junction with Nordstrom Dr (the road to the solid waste facility). After going straight through the junction, turn right into the Deer Mtn. trailhead parking area. The Silvis Lake trailhead is located 13 miles south of Ketchikan at the end of South Tongass Highway. Parking is available within the Beaver Falls Powerhouse administrative site. From the Silvis trailhead, the route follows the access road two miles behind a locked gate to Lower Silvis Lake. The actual trail starts just past the Silvis Lake Powerhouse near the inlet to Lower Silvis Lake.


The Deer Mountain National Recreation trail is 10.7 miles long. This trail begins at the Deer Mountain trailhead and continues to the Upper Silvis Lake. The trail is composed of natural tread with brief sections of boardwalk. The trail is steep, with many switchbacks and gains two thousand feet of elevation in the first two miles of trail. From the Deer Mtn. shelter to Blue Lake shelter, the trail route is marked and some tread does exist. The trail beyond Blue Lake to John Mtn. and Upper Silvis Lake has some markers but very little tread is present. Hikers venturing beyond Blue Lake should be experienced with the use of maps, compass and/or GPS as well as having knowledge of the trail route.

June through September are the most popular hiking months in southeast Alaska. Upper elevations are often snow-covered until mid June, making the going tough without skis or snowshoes. A clear fall day, without bugs and with autumn alpine color, can be a great time for a trip, providing you are prepared for sudden weather changes.

Additional Details

Width: 36 inches.
Primary Surface: Boardwalk
Secondary Surface: Boardwalk
Crushed Rock
Wood, running plank

Maximum Grade: 60%
Elevation Low Point: 300
Elevation High Point: 3,238
Elevation Gain (cumulative): Not Available

Year Designated:

Supporting Webpages and Documents

Website: USDA Forest Service - Tongass National Forest - Deer Mountain Trailhead

Contact Information

For more information and current conditions, contact the trail manager (listed below). For questions, suggestions, and corrections to information listed on the website, contact American Trails.

Trail Management:
Dennis Benson
Tongass National Forest
3031 Tongass Ave.
Ketchikan, AK 99901
(907) 228-4107
[email protected]

Information contact:
Cindy Schelin
Southeast Discovery Center
50 Main Street
Ketchikan, AK 99901
(907) 228-6290



A view of Ketchikan, Alaska looking northwest from the summit of Deer Mountain. Photo by NorthBySouthBaranof.

A view of Ketchikan, Alaska looking northwest from the summit of Deer Mountain. Photo by NorthBySouthBaranof.


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  • Change in trail description or use
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