Baranof Warm Springs is a small, primarily seasonally-occupied community in the U.S. state of Alaska, located on the eastern side of Baranof Island, from which it likely derives its name,in the Alexander Archipelago. It is occasionally referred to simply as Baranof.
Baranof Warm Springs is located on Warm Springs Bay which is just off of Chatham Strait. Just about a half mile up from the settlement is Baranof Lake, a large glacially-fed freshwater lake. Baranof Lake is fed from small unnamed glacial run-off streams as well as the relatively large Baranof River. Between the half mile outlet between Baranof Lake and Warm Springs Bay there are a series of rapids and waterfalls that have proven to be lethal when run.Baranof Warm Springs is located on the southern part of a 34-mile long, 5 to 10 mile wide exposure of a biotite-quartz diorite batholith that crosses northern Baranof Island.
Baranof Warm Springs is a very small community, having only one year round resident. However, there are around 15 seasonal homes. The community lies inside the jurisdiction of the City and Borough of Sitka, but there are only two tax-paying commercial enterprises, the Baranof General Store and the Baranof Wilderness Lodge and Resort. The city, in return, maintains a boardwalk which serves as the main thoroughfare as well as a dock for transient vessels. The community pools money together to pay for a seasonal (winter) caretaker for seasonally-inhabited residences, the city-owned picnic shelter (possible shelter for those needing it), the public bath house (which features three separate tubs), and the communal warm springs pools. Another caretaker is hired to tend to the Baranof Lodge from October 1 to May 1 when the owners of the Lodge return.
Baranof Warm Springs is accessible via floatplane with regularly scheduled flights leaving Sitka. The trans-island flight is 30 minutes on a clear day and an hour on an overcast one. The Alaska Marine Highway does not service Baranof Warm Springs and there are is no scheduled ferry/marine passenger services to the community. Baranof Warm Springs itself does not feature any roads, and the boardwalk does not accommodate ATVs.
The primary attraction is the warm springs. There are a total of nine separate hot springs with temperatures from luke warm to 120 degrees F. Only one is developed in a natural state and is located right up against the white water of the Baranof River. The community built a public bathhouse at the waterfront to provide an option for visitors not wanting to bath communally and/or make the 1/4 mile hike up the trail to the natural springs.
Small tour boats come in frequently in the summer, but also fishermen, and employees of the Hidden Falls Hatchery visit as well. The warm springs is also the terminus (or occasionally the trailhead) of the Baranof Cross-Island Trail. On the northern end of Baranof Lake there is also a Forest Service cabin that is quite popular. The cabin can only be reached by boat or float plane. The terrain is too steep to hike.