This is such a great site for advice! I wonder if anyone can help me decide what to do in Ketchkan. We want to hike--want my daughter to experience the rainforest, as she is obsessed with it! She is 7 years old and a decent hiker for that age. We would prefer not to do a guided tour. Is Deer Mtn trail, which you can access from town, a good one for getting a sense of the rainforest? Is it safe to hike without a guide, e.g. in terms of bears? And if your advice is that we go with a tour guide, do you have advice about companies independent of the cruise ships? Princess has a tour called "Orca Beach Rainforest Walk"--my sister and family are doing that one but it seems like a lot of money for a limited tour. We don't mind spending some money, are doing bigger things in the other ports, but in Ketchikan we want to stay away from crowds and tours if we can.
Yes SKIP the Orca Beach walk it is at most 1/2 mile on a boardwalk, looking at trees. Extremely costly for just this. Deer Mt, is a ways out of town until you get to decent hiking areas, may be too long an up hill climb for your child?? A really nice walk with some culture is Totem Bight, can be self guided. But tours at the dock available. If really want an adventure, consider renting a car and hiking Ward Lake and Preserverence trail. Supreme rain forest experience. Yes, safe on your own and the ability to stop at Totem Bight?? I have rented from Alaska car rental, they pick you up on the dock, and in the past allowed a drop off there, but definately inquire of current policies.
Since The Ward Lake area and trails are about 8 miles out of town, it is going to be way more than $10 for a cab. AND what about the return,? it won't be waiting and timing may be hard to judge. I still suggest a car rental for for more efficient touring and the ability to see other sites.