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Thread: Please comment on trail selections for June 2008

  1. #1

    Default Please comment on trail selections for June 2008

    Hello everyone,

    I will be going to Alaska for the first time on 6/13-6/26, 2008. I picked mid June as in "theory" supposed to be the driest summer period. I hope it can be partially true. Me and my wife (we are in our mid 50's, but fit) would like to do a lot of day hikes. Due to long days we are planning to hike almost every day in addition to glacier cruise, glacier kayaking tour, white water rafting, etc. Please review my hike selection and suggest some better trails or alternatives. My comfort limit would be about 3,000 ft vertical and 7.0 miles one way distance. Trails are listed in sequence of my travel through South Central Alaska: Anchorage-Seward-Palmer-Denali NP-Palmer-Valdez-Anchorage:

    Day 1: Eagle/Symphony Lakes Trail
    Day 2: Bird Ridge Trail
    Day 4: Exit Glacier/Harding Icefield
    Day 5: Twin Peak or Bold Ridge trail?
    Day 6: Reed Lakes Trail?
    Day 7: Lazy Mountain Trail or else in the area?
    Day 9: Kesugi Ridge Trail 17.2 mi (Little Coal Creek to Ermine Hill)
    Day 10: Matanuska glacier or Thompson Pass area?
    Day 12: Worthington Glacier Ridge Trail

    Thank you very much for your feedback!

  2. #2
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    A couple of thoughts, though I'm sure I'll add more later:

    Instead of Bird Ridge, I would either hike the first 4-5 miles of Crow Pass or Winner Creek up to the Pass. Both of these hikes are located in Girdwood, just 10 miles further than Bird Ridge.

    Twin Peaks/Bold Ridge both have the potential to go past your stated 3,000 ft. limit, at least if you want to make it to the ridge line. I love those mountains, but the trails are quite steep and the ridgelines more in the 4-5,000 foot range. They are a great option, but if you decide by day 4 that you need a bit easier day, try either Mt. Baldy and then back the ridge to Blacktail Rocks in Eagle River or Bear Mountain in Peter's Creek. Not as spectacular as Twin Peaks, but not as tough either.

  3. #3
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    You've got a great list going! A couple of thoughts:
    -- If you do the Eklutna/Bold trip, think about riding bikes out the road 5 miles, then start the hike. You can extend your day and work on a different set of muscles!
    -- Along Turnagain Arm, I'm partial to Falls Creek and the little lake at the end of the valley. There's plenty of elevation gain but it's probably only 3 miles or so into the valley. Going up to Crow Pass is also favorite, so I second Brian's idea, too.
    -- And if you feel like you've done enough vertical, pack a picnic lunch and head to the beach below Kincaid Park. On a sunny day, great views and nice sand are hard to beat.

  4. #4

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    Thanks for your advices. I don't mind extra elevation if it's a great view, so I will keep the Bird Ridge trail. However, on Day 5 should I do Crow Pass to Raven Glacier instead of East Twin Peaks? I didn't realize that Bold Ridge have an additional 5 miles each way on bike pass along the lake. It would be too much trouble renting bikes just for 10 miles ride.

    Also an additional question: which trail is better around June 20th: Reed Lakes or Snowbird Mine to Glacier Pass. (same trail for the first 1.5 miles) Which one has a better views? Extra 1,100 vertical feet to Glacier Pass would not be a problem. Great views is the higher priority.

    Also, as you can see from my list, on the next day after my evening arrival, I am doing a hike around Anchorage area - Eagle/Symphony Lakes. Should I do Flattop Mountain instead? It's going to be Saturday, and I am afraid it will be very busy at the Flattop. So, Flattop or Lakes?

    I can't wait to hike in Alaska next year.

    By the way, I purchased "Hiking Alaska", Falcon Guide and "55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska". Books just came an hour ago, so I will do more research using these books also. But the advice from real hikers like you for me is the most valuable.
    Thanks.

  5. #5
    Member Flintlock's Avatar
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    Those are great book selections. Another one you could try is 50 Hikes in Chugach State Park. All three are very informative and will give enough detailed information to help you decide. Obviously, there are plenty of trails and many are very good, so it's really up to you and how much time you have. I would recommend McHugh Creek and Rainbow Peak for the Turnagain area hikes. Instead of Flat Top, maybe try Little O'malley or even continue on through the Willawaw Lakes Trail.

    Give this link a look as it has some good information on the trails also..

    http://www.akhs.atfreeweb.com/search_hikes.htm






    Quote Originally Posted by yk387 View Post
    Thanks for your advices. I don't mind extra elevation if it's a great view, so I will keep the Bird Ridge trail. However, on Day 5 should I do Crow Pass to Raven Glacier instead of East Twin Peaks? I didn't realize that Bold Ridge have an additional 5 miles each way on bike pass along the lake. It would be too much trouble renting bikes just for 10 miles ride.

    Also an additional question: which trail is better around June 20th: Reed Lakes or Snowbird Mine to Glacier Pass. (same trail for the first 1.5 miles) Which one has a better views? Extra 1,100 vertical feet to Glacier Pass would not be a problem. Great views is the higher priority.

    Also, as you can see from my list, on the next day after my evening arrival, I am doing a hike around Anchorage area - Eagle/Symphony Lakes. Should I do Flattop Mountain instead? It's going to be Saturday, and I am afraid it will be very busy at the Flattop. So, Flattop or Lakes?

    I can't wait to hike in Alaska next year.

    By the way, I purchased "Hiking Alaska", Falcon Guide and "55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska". Books just came an hour ago, so I will do more research using these books also. But the advice from real hikers like you for me is the most valuable.
    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    First of all, I would keep Twin Peaks and ditch Bird Ridge in favor of Crow Pass. Bird Ridge has never really done anything for me. If you're set on doing a hike along Turnagain Arm, I second the suggestion for Rainbow Peak.

    As for your first day hike, stick with Eagle/Symphony Lakes. Although it doesn't involve a climb, I like the setting far better than Flattop.

  7. #7

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    We just did the Kesugi Ridge hike you mentioned and it took us 11 hours to complete without transport between trail heads.

    I agree Crow Pass is much nicer than Bird Ridge, waterfalls, glaciers you can walk up to and nice rock. Its a pleasant easy hike.

    reed lakes is the Classic hike in the Hatcher Pass area. Both are good on the scenery. If you start on that trailhead on a sunny day on a weekend, expect a "March of the Penguins" to Reed Lakes, Snowbird mine would be my alternative in that situation.

  8. #8
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Just a thought on your timing. While that time in June might be statistically dry, the ground can still be quite muddy in the higher elevations. Thus I would consider mid July as a better time frame. You'll still have the same amount of sunlight.

  9. #9

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    Funhog, could you please give a little more details about this Kesugi Ridge hike. I didn't realize that it will take that long to hike that 17.2 miles portion. Also, how easy/difficult is to catch the ride on Parks Highway from Ermine Hill TH back to Little Coal Creek TH? This year we hike accross Continental dive in Glacier NP and needed to catch a ride back. We had a very hard time as nobody wanted to stop for me and my wife. Should I drop my car first in the morning at Ermine and then try to catch a ride to start of the trail at Little Coal creek?

  10. #10

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    I would add the excellent Imus Geographics map of Chugach State Park to my planning materials.

    FWIW, I have a hard time thinking of a reason to hike near Matanuska Glacier when other alternatives are available. Maybe I just never found a hiking gem there?

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by yk387 View Post
    Funhog, could you please give a little more details about this Kesugi Ridge hike. I didn't realize that it will take that long to hike that 17.2 miles portion. Also, how easy/difficult is to catch the ride on Parks Highway from Ermine Hill TH back to Little Coal Creek TH? This year we hike accross Continental dive in Glacier NP and needed to catch a ride back. We had a very hard time as nobody wanted to stop for me and my wife. Should I drop my car first in the morning at Ermine and then try to catch a ride to start of the trail at Little Coal creek?
    It should be easy to catch a ride back to the rig. There is lots of traffic that time of year although most of it won't be wanting to pick up a hitchhiker. Make a sign that says "Need Ride X number of miles." I think I threw mine away or I'd let you borrow it LOL

    It was a nice sunny day, lots of great views, we took our time. Typically I think we walk 2 miles an hour with breaks and lunch. but with the views, and a long visit with some Norwegians, we wanted to savor our time on the ridge longer.

  12. #12

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    Thanks everyone for comments. I modified my hike selection based on your suggestions. Still have few questions (in bold):

    Day 1: Eagle/Symphony Lakes Trail
    Day 2: Crow Pass to Raven Glacier and back
    Day 4: Exit Glacier/Harding Icefield
    Day 5: McHugh and Rabbit Lakes or McHugh Peak or Rainbow Peak?
    Day 6: Reed Lakes Trail
    Day 7: Lazy Mountain Trail or else in the area?
    Day 9: Kesugi Ridge Trail – 17.2 mi (Little Coal Creek to Ermine Hill)
    Day 10: Drive from Palmer to Valdez - what hike recommended (3-5 hours long) enroute?
    Day 12: Worthington Glacier Ridge Trail

  13. #13
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    Default Kesugi Ridge

    I and a couple friends did Kesugi Ridge July 06 from Little Coal Creek to Byers lake, about 29 miles, in 3 days. Starting out it was a little steep, I want to say mabie 2000 feet in the first 2.5 or so miles. BUT, we had 40# packs.

    If it's clear, the views of Denali will be spectacular! Water was quite plentiful, and we pumped/filtered all ours. Above the tree line the bugs can get pretty bad if you sit around much, long sleeves and pants would be my suggestion.

    Finally, we were able to catch ride from Byers Lake campground to Little Coal Creek TH without too much trouble. One of my party actually caught a ride with a group that we leap-frogged on the trail. In my experience, people are generally pretty good at picking up hitchhikers in that area.

    Finally, I don't think the time you mentioned is unreasonable. The akfreeweb hike site mentioned earlier in the thread is outstanding, IMO.

  14. #14

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    here are some pictures from the tundra accessed by the Little Coal Creek TH taken this weekend.

    Denali


    North


    South of Denali


    If the weather is great you'll have a fun time, if not, alot of those trips are quite exposed.

  15. #15
    Member Roger45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yk387 View Post
    Thanks everyone for comments. I modified my hike selection based on your suggestions. Still have few questions (in bold):
    Day 7: Lazy Mountain Trail or else in the area?
    Did you ever get info on Lazy area??? If you still want to know about this area I have been hiking all over this area for the last 5 yearsand will share any info that you want.
    "...and then Jack chopped down the beanstock, adding murder and ecological vandalism to the theft, enticement and vandalism charges already mentioned, but he got away with it and lived happily ever after without so much as a guilty twinge about what he had done. Which proves that you can be excused just about anything if you're a hero, because no one asks the inconvenient questions." Terry Pratchett's The Hogfather

  16. #16
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    Something to consider, hiking higher elevations such as Reed Lakes in Mid June could mean running into snow, lots of it. As well as the mud already mentioned. I would suggest planning your trip mid July.

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