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Blue Lake, located in the Alaska Panhandle of southeastern Alaska, is for adventure seekers. The County of Sitka is known for its vistas, mountain backdrop and thick forests. Construction of the Blue Lake Dam in 1958 increased the surface area of natural Blue Lake from 490 acres to 1,225 acres, and raised the elevation from 208 feet above sea level to 342. Blue Lake Reservoir provides hydroelectric power and drinking water to Sitka County. Although the City of Sitka does not permit swimming in the reservoir, Blue Lake is enjoyed by anglers, campers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts. Nearby campgrounds with lake views provide easy access to hiking trails. Campers should obtain a permit from the City.
Blue Lake's major inflow is Blue Lake Creek and its major outflow is Sawmill Creek. Inflow into the reservoir is greatest during the summer and fall from snowmelt and rain flow. Inflow is lowest in mid-winter because precipitation is stored as snow pack. Demand for electricity is highest in winter and lowest in summer. Due to these seasonal fluctuations in precipitation and electricity demand, the elevation of Blue Lake can range from 280 feet above sea level in winter to 342 feet in summer (spillway elevation).
Hiking enthusiasts will enjoy the challenging terrain that the trails of Blue Lake present. Because the lake is partially surrounded by glacier, trails can be dangerous. One of the most popular and challenging trails is Deer Mountain Trail. The trailhead begins in downtown Ketchikan and climbs over 3,000 feet. The trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of mountain peaks, forests, islands and ocean. Deer Mountain Trail is equipped with two shelters, one at Deer Mountain Lake and one at Blue Lake. This is a thrilling experience unique to the trails of Blue Lake. However, it is only for the experienced hiker, as the trails are narrow and wind through mountainous terrain. The steep terrain creates potential for avalanches.
Bird watchers and nature enthusiasts will enjoy observing animals in their natural habitat around Blue Lake. Large mammal species include brown bear, Sitka black-tailed deer, and mountain goat. Smaller mammals inhabit the Blue Lake basin, such as the playful river otter, beaver, pine marten, and mink. Blue Lake is also a resting stop-over for migrating waterfowl, including trumpeter swan, tundra swan, pintail, green-wing teal, hooded merganser, northern shoveler, redhead and lesser and greater scaup. Visitors may also observe bald eagle, dipper, and American merganser in the Sawmill Creek basin. Because different animals appear at different times of the year, a visit to Blue Lake during each season will be a unique experience.
Access for recreational fishing is along Blue Lake's south shore from small boats that are carried into the area. Limited road passage prevents boat trailer access. Blue Lake is a deep (468 feet maximum depth), cold lake with a significant population of Rainbow Trout. Bank anglers cast their lines in Sawmill Creek for Pink Salmon, Chum Salmon, Coho Salmon, King Salmon, and Steelhead Trout.
Blue Lake is located about 94 miles from the Juneau International Airport. Juneau is the nearest large city to Sitka County. Come visit Blue Lake to get away from the stresses of everyday life. Take up bird watching, skiing, hiking, or snowmobiling, Become one with nature as you soak in the beauty of Blue Lake Reservoir.
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