Ground Truth Trekking

Tutka Backdoor information page

The trail is ready to use! To find the start, you'll need to take a boat to the head of Tutka Bay. The trail begins about 150 feet to the right (south) of where the river leaves the trees and goes into the grass flats.

It doesn't go to the ocean on the far side yet, but it gives access into a huge area of alpine tundra and rocky mountains. Join the Facebook Group to see photos and hear about people's experiences on the trail!

Spring on Lunch Mountain

Photo by Andy Banas: In late May, snow can still be thick on this 1200 foot peak. GET PHOTO

Photo by Andy Banas: In late May, snow can still be thick on this 1200 foot peak.

source: Copyright held by photographer

Tide

Knowing the tide is critical to getting to the trailhead. At below about a 10 foot tide the best approach is just to land somewhere on the south side of the bay, then walk the beaches and flats up to the trailhead. From about a 10 foot to 14 foot tide you can land at a beach on the right side near a park campsite (the campsite isn't visible from the water). However, at about 14 feet the water in a slough between the campsite and the trailhead gets too high to cross, cutting off access to the trail. So above about a 12 foot tide it's best to go more towards the trailhead, landing in the grass flats. At around a 17 foot tide, it is possible (but tricky) to get a boat into the main channel very near the trail. Some of these notes are drawn on a simple map here.

Trailhead

Currently the trailhead is marked only by flagging tape, which may be knocked down by weather or animals. However, it's not that hard to find. Looking up the bay, it's about 100 feet to the right of where the river leaves the trees and runs next to grass. There's a clump of trees on a rock outcrop sticking out of the grass nearby.

Trail

Once you're on the trail, it is pretty straightforward to follow. A little over a mile in there is a stream crossing, but some people have been corssing on a fallen log next to the ford. Four miles up there is a ford over the main river which can be difficult at high water. In places the trail follows steep, narrow bear trails. Where the trail goes over "Lunch Mountain" about 2.5 miles in, it is in open tundra and rock with no defined tread. A few small cairns and stepping stones, as well as some flagging, help mark the way, but may not be very obvious.

Lunch Mountain

About halfway along the new trail, Lunch Mountain provides views of where you've come from, and also looking back into the mountains. GET PHOTO

About halfway along the new trail, Lunch Mountain provides views of where you've come from, and also looking back into the mountains.

Packrafters

Bringing a packraft can simplify the approach to the beach. Also, the last mile of the river is packraftable - you can float from a nice gravel bar to the mouth of the river. However the river is more challenging than it appears in the places where you see it from the trail - there are fast sections and many sweepers, use caution! Packrafting is also an option in the upper valley, where about 1.2 miles of braided river are raftable, and can reduce the fording of the river.

Tutka Lake Trail Extension

In October 2016, we cleared and marked an extension to the Tutka Lakes trail, covering about half the distance and 2/3 of the work needed to extend that trail to alpine tundra. When complete (likely early in summer 2017) this will provide an alternative route to reach the passes above Tutka and ultimately the trail to the Gulf of Alaska coast. Right now, the route is well worth following - providing new views, off-trail hiking opportunities, and beautiful meadowlands.

Helping out

The trail could use your help! If you want to join a work-party, email us at contact@groundtruthtrekking.org. Here are some things you can do any time:

Maps and GIS data:

Trace of the trail as built in 2016 to open in Google Earth or upload to your GPS.

Map with notes on our trail work in 2016 and our 2017 plans available here.

Contact Hig (contact@groundtruthtrekking.org) for info on the trail and on volunteering to work on it.

Tutka Backdoor project map

What we've done, what we're planning, and what we're imagining, as of the end of 2016. GET PHOTO

What we've done, what we're planning, and what we're imagining, as of the end of 2016.