WHAT SHOULD I BRING?
Sturdy Hiking Shoes: It is important to have shoes with good traction and support for all hikes. Mid-weight, high/low top, and preferably broken in. No flip-flops or shoes you would be worried about getting dirty. There will be slippery rocks, roots, and uneven surfaces as well as the hikes are several miles long, so good shoes and socks that will not cause blistering are important. Jacket and Breathable Clothes: Layers are always a good idea when hiking in the Tongass. The weather may range from cold and rainy to warm and sunny or anything in between, at any time. A t-shirt with a long sleeve shirt over it and a light rain jacket, sweater, or sweatshirt is recommended, and a hat if you have one with you. Jeans and rain ponchos are discouraged. Small backpack: Something big enough to carry your extra layers and belongings. Water and snacks: There will be no place to buy food or water once we start the tour. It is suggested to bring water, but we have sanitized reusable water bottles that you can borrow if you need one. We will provide light snacks on your trek, however, if you would like something more substantial or have food allergies feel free to bring your own food. This is a leave-no-trace tour, please keep in mind that everything you pack in you'll need to pack out.
WHERE DO WE MEET?
Transportation to and from the trailhead is included with all tours. The meeting place is arranged at the time of booking and can be customized to where your ship is arriving, your accommodation, or another place of preference. Your guide will be holding a white binder with the Tongass Treks logo on it. Please arrive 5 to 10 minutes before your scheduled start time.
HOW PHYSICALLY FIT DO I NEED TO BE FOR THE TREKS?
The tours are intended for those who exercise regularly or semi-regularly and require participants to be able to do physical outdoor recreation, in all kinds of weather, without any facilities. Trekkers should be able to handle slippery, uneven surfaces and at times somewhat steep terrain. Trekkers should not have debilitating medical conditions, injuries, or poor balance. Participants need to be able to sustain hiking 3–9 miles and be able to exercise for several hours. For those who do not walk or exercise regularly, these tours would be a struggle and not a good fit due to the risk of injury, safety, or schedule disruption. Unfortunately, the trails we use are not wheelchair accessible, nor is the transportation vehicle. It is the participant's responsibility to only sign up for tours that they and their group have sufficient skill and fitness level to participate in as well as having no medical, mental, or physical conditions which could interfere with their or the group's safety or ability to participate in these activities. Treks are designed to be able to be completed on schedule. Though there is time to comfortably hike, if for whatever reason a participant is struggling physically or has taken more time than usual, some activities may be cut short, adapted, or eliminated without a refund. If one is unable to complete the tour, there are no refunds.
CAN I BOOK A TOUR ON OTHER TRAILS IN SITKA?
With customized tours, we can personalize your trip! While not every trail is available, there are many other trail options and a range of difficulty levels not listed on the website. When you request to book, please put in the comments section some information on the type of trek you would be interested in.
WILL WE SEE BEARS?
Sitka is in bear country, and you may see a bear while hiking. Bears are curious, intelligent, and can be dangerous, but tend to avoid or ignore people and especially groups. It is important to be bear aware and know the risks and safety precautions to take while hiking in and around the Tongass National Forest. Your guide will carry bear spray and is knowledgeable about what to do if a bear is encountered. There will be a bear and safety briefing before the start of your tour.
WILL THE TOUR BE CANCELED DUE TO RAIN?
Nope! The Tongass National Forest is a temperate rainforest, and Sitka gets around 100 inches of rain a year. There is a fair chance that it might rain or sprinkle on your trek. As it is commonly said – “There's no bad weather, only bad clothing” and it’s important to dress appropriately. Unless there are unsafe conditions, the trek will go on.
WHAT ARE THE AGE RESTRICTIONS?
Each trek has a different minimum age, depending on the level of difficulty. Children under 18 must be accompanied by a parent, a legal guardian, a grandparent, an aunt, or an uncle. Tongass Treks cannot legally transport children under 8 unless you provide a car seat or booster seat for your child. Check out Sitka Baby Rentals (sitkababyrentals.com) for baby equipment rentals if needed. Indian River: No Minimum Age Herring Cove to Beaver Lake: Minimum age 8 years old Harbor Mt. to Alpine Hut: Minimum age 10 years old Indian River To Falls: Minimum age 12 years old Gavan Hill To Harbor Mt.: Minimum age 14 years old
WHAT ARE THE CANCELLATION POLICIES?
Cancellations made more than 45 days prior to the booked tour will receive a 90% refund. Cancellations made within 45 days of the tour's start date or no-shows at the time of the tour will receive no refund unless due to a last-minute cruise ship cancellation to the port of Sitka. Due to ship cancellation, reservations will receive a 90% refund. Tongass Treks reserves the right to cancel outings due to unforeseen circumstances. If this is the case, a full refund of the amount paid will be given. Tongass Treks is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by preparing for the trip (for example non-refundable advance purchase air tickets, clothing, equipment, etc.). Outings are subject to itinerary changes based on a variety of circumstances, including, but not limited to, weather conditions, wildlife, park or public land closures, and unsafe trail conditions. If the itinerary you booked cannot be accomodated, another option of similar difficulty and distance will be provided.
WILL WE NEED TO SIGN A WAIVER?
Tongass Treks requires each participant to sign an individual Activity Waiver & Acknowledgement of Risks Agreement, which will need to be signed prior to starting the tour. Your guide will have a copy of the waivers on hand when they meet you on the date of your outing. If you have any questions, please get in touch prior to your tour. In consideration of the services of Tongass Treks, together with their agents, owners, officers, volunteers, booking entities, employees, related and subsidiary companies, and all other persons or entities acting in any capacity on their behalf (hereinafter collectively “Tongass Treks”), I hereby agree to release and discharge Tongass Treks on behalf of myself, my parents, my heirs, assigns, personal representative and estate as follows: Inherent Risks I acknowledge that any form of outdoor recreation activity tour (collectively ‘tour‛) entails known and unanticipated risks that could result in physical or emotional injury, death, damage to myself, to property, or to third parties. I understand and acknowledge that the enjoyment and excitement of adventure activities - in this case GUIDED AND OUTFITTED HIKES - is derived in part from inherent risks incurred by activity beyond the accepted safety of life at home or in my normal day to day activities and that these inherent risks contribute to my enjoyment and excitement and are an integral reason for my participation in this activity. I understand that such risks cannot be eliminated without jeopardizing the essential qualities of the activity. I also understand and acknowledge that, a condition of my participation in or use of the Tongass Treks tour I am about to engage in GUIDED AND/OR OUTFITTED outdoor recreation on a semi-remote trail that is up to six or more miles off the road and away from facilities and servicer. The tour will be conducted in whatever weather is happening and most likely will not be canceled. There are no amenities on the trail once the hiking has begun. I understand the risks involved and believe I am competent to care for my own safety. I assume full financial responsibility for my care if I am injured either during the activity or going to or coming from the activity. I understand that the TONGASS TREKS tours are for those who are accustomed to physical outdoor recreation in all kinds of weather, without any facilities of any kind and are designed for people with a particular fitness level and sensibility. I acknowledge that the activities I am about to voluntarily engage in come with certain risks, and I recognize and acknowledge that there are risks of serious physical and other injuries to participants associated with this Tongass Treks including, but not limited to, broken bones, strains, sprains, bruises, abrasions, concussions, heart attack, exhaustion and, in some cases, permanent disability and even death, or damage to personal property. The risks of the activities, include, but are not limited to, the following: Rooty, slippery, and rocky trail with uneven surfaces. Steep but walkable descents and ascents, sometimes with stairs and sometimes without. Mud, standing water, or small creek crossings on the trail. Failure to follow the guides safety and trail instructions. Failure to stay on the trail. Manufacture defects in equipment. Encountering other hikers and dogs, often unleashed. Encountering wildlife: Bear, deer, birds, etc. I understand and expressly acknowledge that I have responsibilities, including the responsibility for my own safety while participating in any or all of the activities associated with or provided by Tongass Treks. I also acknowledge that I have the responsibility to inspect any and all facilities or equipment to be used and to immediately advise Tongass Treks of anything which I consider to be unsafe or to refuse to participate. Furthermore, Tongass Treks employees, agents and guides have difficult jobs to perform. They seek safety, but they are not infallible. They might be ignorant of my or another participant‛s fitness or abilities. They may give inadequate warnings or instructions and/or I as the participant may fail to understand the safety directions due to language issues. I specifically acknowledge that decisions made by guides/staff and participants are often made in wilderness/remote/dangerous settings and are often based on imprecise, momentary and subjective perceptions so that decisions are subject to errors in judgment that cannot and should not be associated with fault at a later point in time. Exposure to the natural elements while participating in a Tongass Treks tour can be uncomfortable and/or harmful. Changing weather conditions, storms, snow rain etc. are possible; exposure to the natural elements can be uncomfortable and/or harmful and I am aware that this exposure could cause sunburn, dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, heat cramps, hypothermia or fatigue, some or all of which may diminish my or the other participants‛ ability to react or respond. I may encounter dangerous wildlife, insects, etc.; communication in the terrain in which this activity occurs is always difficult and in the event of an accident, rescue and medical treatment may not be immediately available. As in all activities which are part of the Tongass Treks tour, Tongass Treks or its staff may misjudge some of these issues. By signing this Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement, I acknowledge that I AM ULTIMATELY RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN SAFETY during my participation in the Tongass Treks tour. I understand that the TONGASS TREKS tours are a leave-no-trace excursion, including no littering or food left behind and that this is also a tobacco-free, drug-free, and alcohol-free excursion. I acknowledge that I do not have debilitating medical conditions, injuries, or poor balance. I understand that this trail is NOT wheelchair accessible nor is the transportation vehicle. I should be able to sustain being able to hike 3-8 miles, which could total up to 7 hours of sustained exercise. I understand that these tours are for those who regularly or semi-regularly exercise. I understand that each tour is designed to be completed in a timely manner so that participants can make it back according to schedule. Though there is time to comfortably hike, if for whatever reason I find that I am struggling physically on the tour or have taken more time than usual to complete the hike, some activities may be cut short, adapted, or eliminated to compensate without any refund. Also, if I am unable to complete the tour, there are no refunds. I understand that if I have some physical concerns, I can book a private or custom tour when to accommodate and tailor the tour to my needs and desires within reason. Tongass Treks is not a “Common Carrier” but rather is in the business of providing hiking tours. Transportation to and from the activity is incidental to the activity. Transport and car, bus or van travel in some instances may be provided by Tongass Treks employees and may involve errors in judgment by Tongass Treks staff operating the vans, buses, cars or other transport vehicles. The vehicles and transport trailers may malfunction or break down, causing injury, accidents, delays or in the extreme case, death. Transport may be provided by independent contractors to Tongass Treks and may involve errors in judgment by those independent contractors. I understand that, unless I've brought my own car seat or booster seat for my children under 8 years old, they cannot be legally transported because TONGASS TREKS does not have a car or booster seat available. I also understand that children under 18 years old must be accompanied by a parent or a legal guardian on TONGASS TREKS tours. Express Assumption of Risk As lawful consideration for being allowed to participate in activities offered by Tongass Treks, I expressly agree and promise on behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible, to accept and assume all the risks existing in this activity. My/our participation in this activity is purely voluntary, and I/we elect to participate in spite of the risks. I/we expressly agree and acknowledge that the terms and conditions of this Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement are contractual in nature and that I/we are signing it of our own free will. Release and Waiver of Rights Including for Claims of NEGLIGENCE On behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible I hereby voluntarily release, forever discharge, and agree to indemnify and hold harmless Tongass Treks from any and all claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with my participation in this activity or my/our use of Tongass Treks equipment or facilities, including any such Claims which allege negligent acts or omissions of Tongass Treks. Indemnity Should Tongass Treks or anyone acting on their behalf, be required to incur attorney’s fees and costs to enforce this agreement, I agree on behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible to indemnify and hold them harmless (in other words, I agree to pay for...) for all such fees and costs necessary to enforce this agreement. Personal Skill & Insurance I certify on behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible that I/we have sufficient skill and fitness to participate in the activities offered by Tongass Treks I further certify that I/we have no medical, mental or physical conditions which could interfere with my/our safety or ability to participate in these activities, or else I/we are willing to assume and bear the cost of all risks that may be created, directly or indirectly, by any such condition. I/we further certify that I/we have adequate insurance to cover any injury, damage or emergency transportation or search and rescue costs I/we may cause or suffer while participating, or else agree to bear the costs of such injury, damage or emergency transportation costs ourselves. Medical Issues I agree on behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible that, in the event that Tongass Treks deems it necessary to administer emergency first aid or CPR or to remove me/us from its activities or premises or from the field or to seek emergency medical care for me/us that, by signing this document, I/we are giving Tongass Treks permission to: administer emergency first aid or CPR, secure emergency transport or medical care and/or disclose any medical information it may have about me/us to any health care provider which may become involved in my/our care, treatment or removal from the field. By signing this document, I/we are waiving any right to object to or bring any type of action or claim against Tongass Treks for its administration of emergency first aid or CPR or for securing emergency transport or medical care and/or for the disclosure of personal medical information it may have about me/us to any health-related person who becomes involved in my/our care or removal from Tongass Treks tour or the field. Photographic Assignment I understand that the Tongass Treks reserves the right to take photographic or film (of whatsoever nature) records of any or all of its activities or trips and on behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible. I/we hereby agree that Tongass Treks may use such records for promotional and/or commercial purposes without any remuneration to me. I/we hereby assign all right, title and interest I/we may have in or to any and all media in which my name or likeness might be used by Tongass Treks. Release as Contract and Personal Capacity On behalf of myself and any of the children for which I am responsible I expressly agree and acknowledge that the terms and conditions of this Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risks and Indemnity Agreement are contractual in nature and that I/we are signing it of my/our own free will. I/we expressly acknowledge that I/we are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of my/our signing of this document and that there are no other impediments or reasons why I/we would lack the capacity to enter into this contract with Tongass Treks. Forum Selection, Severability, Breach of Contract/Warranty Waiver, Etc. In the event I/we file a lawsuit against Tongass Treks, I/we agree to do so solely in the Third Judicial District of the State of Alaska, and I/we further agree that the substantive law of that state shall apply in that action without regard to the conflict of law rules of that state and I/we hereby irrevocably waive any other jurisdiction or venue to which I or my estate might otherwise have been entitled. I/we agree to submit to the jurisdiction of the Alaska courts. I/we agree that if any portion of this agreement/contract is found to be void or unenforceable, the remaining portion shall remain in full force and effect; this document is intended to be interpreted as broadly as possible. A copy of this release contract can be used as if it were the original. I/we understand that this document constitutes the entire Agreement/Contract between ourselves and Tongass Treks and that it cannot be modified or changed in any way by representations or statements of any nature (be they vocal, advertising, etc.) outside of this document; in other words, I/we are also waiving any claims I/we might have for breach of contract or warranty for statements or representations made outside of this release contract. By signing this document, I acknowledge for myself and any of the children I am responsible for that if anyone is hurt or property is damaged during my participation in this activity, I/we may be found by a court of law to have waived my/our right to maintain a lawsuit against Tongass Treks on the basis of any claim from which I/we have released them herein. I/WE HAVE HAD SUFFICIENT OPPORTUNITY TO READ THIS ENTIRE DOCUMENT (ALL 2 PAGES). I/WE HAVE READ AND UNDERSTOOD IT, AND I/WE AGREE TO BE BOUND BY ITS TERMS.
WHAT IS A LEAVE-NO-TRACE EXCURSION?
Tongass Treks is a U.S. Forest Service permitted company of the Tongass National Forest. Our tours in Sitka are conducted in the Tongass National Forest, under permit by and in partnership with the Forest Service. We are dedicated to educating our clients and other visitors about the importance of preservation and the Leave No Trace principles. All hikes are a leave-no-trace excursion, including no littering or food left behind.
IS GRATUITY INCLUDED?
A gratuity is not included in the listed price of a hike. Guests will have the opportunity to leave a tip at the end of the hike. Tips commonly range from 10% to 20% of the booking price.
Have any questions? Please don't hesitate to get in touch!