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Thread: Backcountry route advice

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Backcountry route advice

    Three friends and I are planning a two month Alaska trip next summer, and we're primarily looking to hit the Alaskan backcountry. I have primarily been obsessing over Gates of the Arctic, but also look to get into Denali, Kenai, and Wrangell-St. Elias. Does anybody have any knowledge of the backcountry and know the best routes. We're trying avoid bush plane expenses, as we are all poor college kids. Three out of the four of us are eagle scouts, and we all have extensive outdoors experience. Does anybody have any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2009


    Check out Kesugi Ridge in Denali State park, I've only done day hikes from the various trailheads . Really nice country and accessible from the Parks Hwy.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007


    As an old Eagle Scout (the operative word there is old), I'm jealous of the fun you're having scoping out two months up here. Caution: like a lot of us, you might end up staying a lot longer!

    A good starting point for Wrangell-St. Elias is here:

    There's a link to hiking routes, and that's organized by location -- so look for routes that start off of the McCarthy or Nabesna Roads as to minimize your access expenses. As you drill down into specific hikes, there will be .pdfs with a description, small map (to orient, not to use in the field), etc.

    There's also a link to public use cabins in the park. Most, but not all, are fly-in so it would add expense but give you a nice dry base camp. Most, but not all, of the cabins are free, first-come/first-serve.

    For Gates of the Arctic, the main web site is The backcountry information isn't as good, but there is some good advice. If you're looking to minimize flights, then for Gates you're looking at hiking in off the haul road. The phone at the NPS ranger station at Coldfoot is 907-678-4227. Give a call and tap the local knowledge.

    And +1 on the recommendation for Denali State Park. I went up the Ermine Hill trail in early July and it's a 5 Star hike. Trail was in good shape, great views. We did an out & back, but you can connect to other high country trails and loop back to the highway.

  4. #4


    Hope, AK. to Seward, AK. (Even GOODER, spend three days exploring the back of Palmer Creek, and walk to Seward).

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