Settlers Cover signage

Signage provides information on traditional cedar harvesting on Wednesday at Settlers Cove State Recreation Site. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

Some Ketchikan-area state parks have received some fresh improvements this year, offering better signage, re-constructed trails and freshly paved roadways and parking lots.

Located at the north end of Tongass Highway, Settlers Cove State Recreation Site’s entrance road and parking area were paved at the end of October, Natural Resources Technician Bob Pelkey said in a phone interview Tuesday.

BAM LLC was the contractor on that project, with SECON as the subcontractor completing the paving. Magnum Enterprises completed the striping on the new surfaces.

There also is a new informational kiosk near the Settlers Cove campground, and Pelkey said BAM is expected to complete the roofing soon. A fee deposit box, which Pelkey dubbed an “Iron Ranger,” also is planned to be placed under the kiosk.

Pelkey added that the projects were delayed by about six weeks due to shipping delays — a situation that has plagued many other local projects.

Other improvements to the Settlers Recreation area have been the addition of new informational signs at the Lunch Creek trailhead located near the cul-de-sac at the highway’s end, on the Loop trail to the north and along the pathways south of the main picnic beach.

There also are new informational signs installed at the waterfall viewing platform. In addition, the waterfall viewing trail tread was improved over the summer, and a new staircase was built to connect the waterfall trail with the Loop trail.

Also new to the park is a large wooden sign installed at the top of the entry road to the Settlers Cove campground, trails and picnic areas.

Pelkey said many of the improvements were made with the safety of visitors in mind.

A new “End” sign at the Tongass Highway’s terminus also has been installed. The previous sign had been severely damaged by gunfire.  

Another change to the Settlers Cove Recreation Site was that the large picnic shelter alongside the main beach was removed this year. Pelkey said that erosion from storm surges had made the structure unstable.

Improvements to Totem Bight State Historical Park also have been made, Pelkey said.

For example, signage at the trailheads was improved to guide visitors into the correct entrance trail, he said.

Pelkey said he has rearranged the totem pole and totem pole parts inside the carving shed that sits inside the Totem Bight park to enhance viewing. He situated a totem pole, a bear pole hat and a thunderbird pole totem topper all closer to the windows in the building in which the lights stay on all day to enhance the display.

There also is a new highway sign to direct drivers to Totem Bight, Pelkey said.

There are eight state park units in the Ketchikan area, including four marine parks, one historical park, two recreation sites and one recreation area. Links to informational pages on each unit can be found online at