Mount Riley

Distance: 12 km
Elevation Gain: 461 m (1512 ft)
Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate
Region: Haines
Date Added: June 1, 2014
Last Update: June 1, 2014

A great coastal forest hike in the Haines (Alaska) area, with a rewarding 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains and glaciers, as well as views down the Chilkoot and Chilkat inlets.

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Scroll below photos for Driving Directions and Trail Description.


Crossing a small boulder-filled creek along the trail.

One of the small sub-alpine meadows along the way.

Near the summit where the two trails meet (the boardwalk trail on the right is the trail from the Mud Bay Road side).

The view north towards Haines, with the Chilkat River Valley on the left and the Chilkoot Inlet on the right.

The view south down the Chilkat Inlet.

Panoramic views looking north from the summit.

Hiking back down the forest.

Driving Directions

There are several routes up Mount Riley, and the one described here is accessed from Beach Road via the Battery Point Trail. Another option is to start from Mud Bay Road. The access from the Beach Road/Battery Point side is longer but more gradual with more traversing and long switchbacks. The access from the Mud Bay Road side is shorter and more direct. Also, since the Battery Point side is north facing there can be snow along the trail longer into the spring.

From Haines you can access Beach Road either by continuing southeast on the Haines Highway which eventually turns into Beach Road, or from Main Street head towards the ocean and turn right on Front Street which also eventually merges onto Beach Road. Drive to the end of Beach Road where there is a small parking lot at the trailhead.

Trail Description

The trail leading from the parking area is very well maintained and is impossible to miss. The first 1.4 km of the trail is relatively flat with no elevation gain through the coastal forest. At the 1.4 km mark there is a trail junction and a sign indicating the route to Mount Riley is to the right.

Once on the actual Mount Riley Trail you start gaining elevation, as the trail switchbacks uphill. There is a lot of long traversing and switchbacks along the trail which helps make the elevation gain more manageable. You are in the trees for the most part and the trail is easy to follow all the way to the top.

There is a point about half way up the trail when you will start to get excited as it seems like you're close to reaching the top of the hill where the trees start to thin out. Be warned! This is a false summit and you'll get a bit of a view to the south of a bigger hill in the distance, this is the real summit. Don't get too dissapointed though, it's not all that far away and getting to the real summit is well worth the effort.

Closer to the summit you'll notice a trail on the right which leads up from the Mud Bay Road side. Keep left to get to the summit. From the summit you'll enjoy views north up the Chilkat River Valley, Chilkoot Inlet, and Haines. To the southwest are the mountains and glaciers towards the Davidson Glacier. Return the way you came.

Comments / Trip Reports

Have you been to Mount Riley lately?

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July 26, 2019

I should have mentioned (in my post below) that we started from the Mud Bay Road trailhead.
July 26, 2019

Hiked this trail on the May long weekend with our dog and can't wait to do it again. Took us just over 90 minutes up. The trail is very well maintained. It's definitely a climb but the switchbacks all the way make it more moderate. Worth doing this day hike if you are in Haines!
Liz B
April 24, 2019

My husband and I hiked this trail on April 20th. We began at the Mud Bay Rd. trailhead and according to our fitness trackers the hike was 9.55km return with an elevation gain of 550m (including all the ups and downs throughout the hike).

The trail is very well maintained and easy to follow with lots of signage. In the steep section there are lots of switchbacks which makes the climb much more manageable. We ran into some deep snow in the last 0.5km of the trail but we got through it no problem with our hiking boots (no spikes, no poles).

It took us 1.5 hours to get up and just over an hour to get down. This is an excellent half day hike in Haines that I would definitely recommend! Don't be put off by the other review, this hike is nothing close to a nightmare.
L. Foster
September 4, 2018

This trail is mostly FULL of roots and stones with not much of a clear path. Be very fit! I’ll remembering it as a nightmare - did it September 2018. Horrible going back down as well.