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Thread: Day hiking in the Brooks Range

  1. #1
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    Default Day hiking in the Brooks Range

    I'm interested in going a few day hike ideas from Wiseman or Coldfoot in mid August without the use of an air charter.

  2. #2
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    More info on what exactly you're looking for will improve responses. Very generally speaking, the only marked "hiking trail" along the Dalton is to Marion Falls, just past Coldfoot. Not really sure why they built that trail, there's way cooler stuff to do just a little further north, up on the tundra, without trails. I think there are some old miners trails in the Wiseman / Nolan area. Ask at the Coldfoot Visitor's Center or better yet, talk to the residents of Wiseman.

    Personally, I've hiked / scrambled Sukakpak Mountain, several miles past Coldfoot. This is described in the "Outside in the Interior" guidebook and is a great short but steep, half day outing. I've also been up James Dalton Mountain just past Atigun Pass, which was a really fun, technically easy "look at the map and go" tundra and scree hike.

    I have my eyes on several other peaks and canyons up there, but the fun is really in finding your own way, deciding what looks good to you and going for it. That place is a playground for those of us who aren't tied to trails and don't expect / want to see anybody else on their hikes.

  3. #3
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    I did order the book. "Outside in the Interior" but I m tryingot get an intial impression. The 1st question would be is to wheather to base myself out of Coldfoot or Wiseman. Coldfoot does have the advantage if the visiter center. I would want to do some non technical scambling and just to get a nice feel for the region without placing myself in danger as a solo hiker. I am an experieinced hiker but that definition changes in Alaska. Admittedly when I came to Alaska for the 1st time, i was humbled

  4. #4
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    I'd suggest not basing yourself in Coldfoot or Wiseman... Keep in mind these aren't really "towns." There's probably less than 100 year-round residents in the entire upper Koyokuk drainage. Coldfoot is no more than an ugly truck stop, and I think the only lodging is in old pipeline camp ATCO trailers. There is a cafe, gas, and some very limited supplies available, but you will dearly regret it if you don't grab everything you need in Fairbanks. Wiseman is quite literally a ghost town that about a dozen people happen to reside in. Very cool, but not a "real" town. There are a couple very small bed & breakfasts there though. There is a surprizingly nice BLM campground at the Marion Falls trailhead if you feel the need to be "official," and a free camping area at Galbraith Lake, but I always just pull well off the road and camp wherever I feel like. Once you're up there, you'll find that confining yourself to an established campground feels a little silly.

    As far as hiking goes, this is DIY country, and specific advice won't be very helpful. Generally speaking though, it's all open tundra beyond Chandlar Shelf. Most of the topography in the Brooks Range is a little more relaxed than the Alaska Range, Wrangells, etc. Cliffs are usually avoidable, wildlife more visible in the open country, and most creeks are non-glacial and fordable except during heavy rain. Keep in mind that flat, valley bottom areas are usually very wet, with cottongrass tussocks that make for miserable walking. Some terrain like this is unavoidable, but should be minimized when planning a route. Also keep in mind that the mosquitoes are truly horrific in June - early August, at the lower and middle elevations. If the weather's sunny, it's common for travelers to go nocturnal with the 24 hour daylight, so they can cover up completely with tight weave clothing and a headnet in the cooler nightime hours. Alternatively, much of August can provide better conditions, after the first freeze.

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