The mighty Stikine River is the lifeline flowing through this wilderness. It is North America's fastest, free flowing navigable river. LeConte Glacier also flows through the wilderness, if a bit slower. LeConte is North America's southern most tidewater glacier, depositing icebergs into LeConte Bay. Glaciers have sculpted the granite bedrock into the U-shaped valley of the Stikine River. For centuries that valley has served as a corridor through the Coast Range for wildlife and humans, including native peoples and the rush for gold. The Stikine River valley, with its thick forest and side sloughs, provides a Wilderness playground for boaters. There are opportunities for tranquil paddling as well as speedy motorboat rides. One moment you may be watching a lone moose or brown bear venturing to the edge of River and the next, meeting a group of fun-loving visitors at Chief Shakes Hot Springs. The wilderness includes the River's estuary with extensive grasslands and delta mudflats as the river reaches the Pacific Ocean. The Stikine-LeConte Wilderness boasts: Kate's Needle at 10,002 ft- the highest peak on the Tongass National Forest; the Stikine Ice fields - the largest ice field on the Tongass National Forest; the world's largest spring concentration of bald eagles (up to 1500); and a major stopover on the Western Flyway with shorebird migration averaging 350,000 birds a day. Stikine has been a major transportation route for centuries, first beginning with Alaskan native inhabitants and later with fur traders and miners. Today the river remains an important transportation route for the United States and Canada. Many outfitters and guides use it for fly-fishing, hunting, and camping but the highest amount of guiding involves high speed jet boating for nature-based sightseeing tours. Commercial fishing industries transport fish for processing and to the market. The river also supports the mining industry (located on the Canadian side), acting as a conduit for miners and their families, equipment, processing and market transport. The river channel is important culturally for subsistence and sport fishing, hunting, and sightseeing. Twelve public use cabins, 16 special-use permitted cabins, a developed hot springs, two hiking trails, and swimming area provide a variety of recreational activities for visitors and the local public along the banks of the river. This 449,951 acre wilderness is east of Petersburg and north of Wrangell, on the mainland. It includes the Stikine River watershed and the LeConte Bay watershed and icefields, from the Canadian boundary to the sea. The boundary extends from Frederick Sound on the west to the Alaska-Canada boundary on the east. The Stikine River valley and LeConte Bay receive moderate to high use in the summer. The Stikine River is an 1871 Treaty River for commerce between the United States and Great Britain. The adjacent icefields remain wild and remote. The most frequently used means of access is small boat. Some access is by paddleboat and float plane during the summer or by snowmachine during the winter. The Stikine River provides access via small boat from salt water, through the Wilderness, across the Alaska boundary and into the interior of Canada.
Leave No Trace
How to follow the seven standard Leave No Trace principles differs in different parts of the country (desert vs. Rocky Mountains). Click on any of the principles listed below to learn more about how they apply in the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness.
Digital and paper maps are critical tools for wilderness visitors. Online maps can help you plan and prepare for your visit ahead of time. You can also carry digital maps with you on your GPS unit or other handheld GPS device. Having a paper map with you in the backcountry, as well as solid orienteering skills, however, ensures that you can still route-find in the event that your electronic device fails.
Motorized equipment and equipment used for mechanical transport is generally prohibited in all wilderness areas.
This includes the use of motor vehicles, motorboats, motorized equipment, bicycles, hang gliders, wagons, carts, portage wheels, and the landing of aircraft including helicopters.