Naha Bay

Naha overlook

Thick rainforest and rocky shores border Naha Bay

A favorite cruising destination for Ketchikan folks, Naha Bay is an easy trip, protected moorage and interesting, with a skookum chuck, improved hiking trails, and freshwater and saltwater fishing.  Dock and ramp make shore excursions easy and convenient for the whole family.

picnic shelter

A small picnic shelter overlooks the Naha River mouth.

September 26, 2013 — Our recent spate of stormy fall weather paused on Tuesday, with a good outlook for Wednesday, so we headed out for a one-night trip. Since I just spent the summer driving tour boats south from Ketchikan, we decided to head north–and Naha Bay is always an easy choice.

We first visited Naha about 14 years ago when the dock and the trails were well maintained and new.  Although the facilities are showing age, they’re still sound enough, with the dock and nearby picnic shelters in good repair.  A newly graveled trail leads toward the far end of Roosevelt Lagoon. (Be careful on the board walks–they’re slippery.)

naha railroad

In past years, a wooden railway moved boats past the rapids when tides were not favorable.

HISTORY:

Our favorite source for history of this area is Land of Mists by Patricia Roppel, which summarizes activity in the area since about 1900 including some gold mining in the area, an overview of Loring and its fishing industry, and the role of the CCC corps in building trails in the area (the present Naha Trail connects with an extensive wilderness trail system northeast of Ketchikan on Revillagigedo Island.)

More information and links for further research are at the Naha Bay & Loring Alaska website. (Loring is a community on the east shore of Naha Bay, but deserves its own page in our treatment of Ketchikan cruising destinations–so it is not covered here.)

In past years, a Ketchikan Yacht Club tradition was the yearly Thanksgiving Cruise to the Naha dock.  With protected waters nearly all the way from Ketchikan to Naha, weather was not really a factor.  Dinner included a “movable feast” with each boat owner hosting one course of the meal. The “Thanksgiving Cruise” has not been done for several years now.

naha_rail_upper

Though in disrepair, the railway platform can still be used to move small dinghies and skiffs.

ATTRACTIONS:

Navigation to Naha Bay is via either Behm Canal or Clover Pass.  The inside route through Clover Pass and Moser Bay is well protected in any weather.  The most exposure to rough water is rounding Point Higgins, and traversing the southern edge of Behm Canal between Moser Bay and Naha Bay–these deserve caution in rough weather. Once there, the Naha dock is well protected in any weather.  A rock hazard has been reported above (south) of the dock at low tide–larger boats should not travel above the dock.

Roosevelt Lagoon is accessible by skiff at certain stages of high tide–but very dangerous white water at other times.  In past years we have ridden the last of the flood into the lagoon, and then the first of the ebb out of the lagoon–before the water is flowing fast enough to be dangerous.  A wooden railway-like platform runs along the skookum chuck, making it possible to move a skiff in and out of the lagoon when tides are not favorable.

A church camp is located at the upper end of Roosevelt Lagoon, and is accessible by trail.  The trail leads past the camp to connect with the larger trail system on the island, but the camp itself is private property and visitors are not encouraged.  A caretaker is usually present at the camp.

Naha trails

Naha trails

We have been told there is good steelhead fishing in the streams above the lagoon near Jordan Lake.  Salmon, bottom fish, shrimp and crab are available in the area.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:

Naha’s proximity to Ketchikan, convenient all-weather moorage, shore access, lagoon, developed trail system and picnic area make this a must-see for folks who are boating in the Ketchikan area, especially if cruising with family or pets.

That said, the destination has some limitations.  The Naha dock rarely sees the sun, and therefore the location feels cool and damp. Terrain is steep and difficult to navigate except for the trail system, and there are no beaches–all shores are rocky.  Without the trappings of civilization and history, Naha would be a mediocre destination at best.

Loring

The community of Loring, on the east shore of Naha Bay will be covered on another page.

For us, Naha is a destination of convenience–a quick overnight getaway, easy trails and spectacular scenery.

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Disclaimer: Ketchikan Yacht Club destinations are meant to convey a brief description and some current local knowledge to folks who want to learn more about our cruising area.  Although the information presented here is thought to be accurate, KYC accepts no responsibility for inappropriate use of the information; boaters and others are cautioned to  consult authoritive sources of information on navigation, weather, land ownership, and federal or state agency policies before venturing out.