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Suggest a trail in Alaska
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Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Suggest a trail in Alaska on 04/25/2011 08:18:00 MDT Print View

Looking for a long hike in Alaska. Something that can sustain me for at least a week. Plan on 10 mile per day legs. More or less dependent on the trail. If my hiking partner is good to go after that time, it would be nice to resupply and continue for another week.

Does anyone know of a good scenic trail in Alaska that would fit that description? It would be nice to be somewhere around Denali. Even hike around some of it would be great. Any advice or suggestions are welcomed. This will be an August trip. We both have about 20 days off to play around. I guess the JMT would always be an option if I can't find something in Alaska. My buddy just has his heart set on that particular location.

Thanks. -J

Miles Barger
(milesbarger) - F - M

Locale: West Virginia
Consider going off trail on 04/25/2011 11:30:57 MDT Print View

There aren't too many trails in Alaska.

I'd suggest getting away from the idea of hiking a trail. Think about where in the state you'd like to go and what kind of terrain you want to see (and can handle). Consider what kind of mileage you expect to average on different kinds of terrain (gravel bars vs. dry tundra vs. wet tundra vs. alder hell). (Hint: If you average 10 miles a day on a trail because of the physical effort involved, remember that you'll go somewhere between a little and a lot slower off trail.) Then bring up a mapping tool and start scheming and dreaming. Look for gravel bars, valleys, passes, ridges. Watch out for big glaciers. Research the river and creek crossings involved. Read a book about basic Alaska ecology to get a feel for the type of vegetation you're likely to have at different elevations, on particular slopes and aspects, etc. The possibilities are just about endless.

For the Denali area, consider hiking south from the road via one of the river valleys (the Savage, Sanctuary, Teklanika. Toklat). Connect to other river valleys via passes following the arc of the Alaska Range southwest. Head north when you need to for the trip length you desire. Refuge Valley, the areas around the Muldrow Glacier, and the drainages and mountains in and around the Stony Dome to Thorofare River area are particularly awesome.

And if you're a boater, don't forget about packrafts. They open up so many possibilities and are incredibly gratifying to use.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Suggest a trail in Alaska on 04/25/2011 13:13:59 MDT Print View

Maybe find some segment of Andrew Skurka's route from last year.

Last July I was trying to hike around in Denali. As long as there was some sort of a trail, I was fine. As soon as the trail petered out, the willows took over, and I couldn't make any progress at all.


Ryan C
(radio_guy) - MLife

Locale: Alaska
Lake Clark on 04/26/2011 07:43:08 MDT Print View

A group of us are going on a two week trip to Alaska this summer. The main backpacking portion will be in Lake Clark NP. Float planes are flying us from Port Alsworth to Turquoise Lake. Over several days we will setup base camp, do day hikes, pack up camp, and move on working our way over to Twin Lakes where we will be picked up. I imagine a trip could be extended into other areas, just have the pick up plane bring a resupply so the option can be arranged. Not much of a trail is there but route finding is easier than some places from what I understand.

Erin McKittrick
(mckittre) - MLife

Locale: Seldovia, Alaska
Alaska does scenic well. Trails, not so much on 04/27/2011 23:55:53 MDT Print View

I agree with Miles. I don't know of a 70+ mile trail in the state? Maybe there's one somewhere. But if you're really looking for a trail, Alaska's not the place. Vast wilderness is more what the state is known for. People who want longer trips without as much bushwhacking often choose the wide-open tundra of the Brooks Range, though that will have tussocks and mosquitoes in the summer. South Central is good for glaciers and craggy mountains but has more brush. Alaska Peninsula is fairly open with stunning volcanoes, but worse weather and expensive logistics to get there. Lake Clark/Lake Iliamna area is kind of between those two in character. Southeast has beautiful rainforest, but paddling will get you much more distance than walking there. I don't know Denali.

Daniel Allen
(Dan_Quixote) - F

Locale: below the mountains (AK)
An Imperfect Plan on 04/29/2011 04:22:06 MDT Print View

I live in Anchorage, and last fall I dreamed up a 170 mile mostly trail route, but it isn't perfect. Here's my plan: 40 miles on the resurrection pass trail, transition to the 30ish mile Russian River trail at Cooper Landing(though I've heard there are lots of bears and the trail is easy to lose), then mosey into and past Seward and down to Caines Head state recreation area, which is another handful of miles.

And then Back Again.

Maybe I'll stop by the icefields behind Exit Glacier for fun, too, and my scouting on google maps has made me realize the Russian River trail might put me close enough to bushwhack over to Lost Lake, as well.

Here's a link to most to it, minus the Seward/Caines Head end:

Anyway, that's the best I've got at this point. there are road portions, you have to go both ways, you have to travel through two small towns, and the bear-danger may be severe in parts. Oh, and on the way to Caines Head you have to deal with the tides.

Is it a perfect plan? No, but I think that's what I like about it.

Edited by Dan_Quixote on 04/29/2011 04:36:34 MDT.

robert mckay
(rahstin) - F

Locale: The Great Land
check it out on 05/11/2011 22:08:23 MDT Print View

*The resurrection trail system starts right outside of Seward at end of the Exit Glacier road. LOTS of bears but gorgeous. Totals 70 miles pretty solid. Ends in the city of hope. There are cabins throughout but they must be reserved in advance.
*All backpacking in Denali National Park proper is trailess but a 70 miler inside the park is easily possible with some planning. Get in contact with the Rangers for some help.
*Kesugi Ridge is a 30 mile trail hike in Denali State park (about an hour south of DNP entrance). IF you get good weather, this will have some of the best views of the AK range and Denali itself.

If you haven't already, check out the book 55 Ways In The Wilderness in SE Alaska. Many of these hikes can be linked together by hitching a few miles down the road.

Happy trails (or lack there of)

Thomas Coulon
(oe-tom) - F
Lake Clark on 05/22/2011 13:37:25 MDT Print View

Hey Ryan (Radio_guy) or somebody else,

I am wondering if you could share some insights about your forthcoming trip to Lake Clark. My GF and I are planning a trip to AK end of August (we're from France) and want to spend 4-6 days around Lake clark...but not sure if taking a guide is worth it or not for backpacking. She wants to take a guide but I'm thinking we don't have to. Guided trips seem very expensive over there...Maybe you considered it? I found very little information other than what is on the NPS site...any recommendations?

Thanks for your time!


Edited by oe-tom on 05/22/2011 13:38:19 MDT.