By Melinda Munson

Explore Skagway celebrated the dedication of Jánwu Sítʼi/Denver Glacier Trail as Alaska’s first entry into the Old-Growth Forest Network (OGFN) on Aug. 10.

With only five percent of old growth forests remaining in the west, Old Growth Forest Network’s mission is to connect “people with nature by creating a national network of protected, mature native forests.”

Old growth forests promote a higher diversity of plant and animal life, trap carbon and nitrogen, create topsoil and improve water and air quality.

OGFN described Jánwu Sítʼi as “a trail that immerses hikers in the acoustic atmosphere of an old-growth forest, where footsteps are padded by layers of soft spruce and hemlock needles and the sounds of the port of Skagway tumble away with the rushing glacial waters of the East Fork Skagway River.”

Jánwu Sítʼi (“Mountain Goat Glacier” in Tlingit), is located in the Tongass National Forest, a temperate rainforest and the nation’s largest national forest. The 3.2-mile trail is approximately five miles from Skagway and often reached via the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad from May through September.

The start of the trail contains newer vegetation, regrown after the chaos of the Gold Rush. Further in, hikers reach the verdant old growth which includes cottonwood, hemlock and spruce. A red caboose from the 1960s is available for overnight stays through the U.S. Forest Service. 

“Jánwu Sítʼi (jon-woo-sit-ee) is a majestic place full of joyful, quiet noise,” said Jaime Bricker, tourism director. “To experience the Tongass in this area is awe-inspiring and will take your breath away every time. I’m grateful that the Old Growth Forest Network has recognized just how special this place is.”

Read more about Jánwu Sítʼi/Denver Glacial Trail in Mayor Andrew Cremata’s article, “You can’t hear voices if you ignore sound.”