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Thread: Short time in Alaska....where to explore/camp?

  1. #1
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    Default Short time in Alaska....where to explore/camp?

    Hi Everyone,

    My name is Mark, and I'm new to the board. I am a wildlife biologist from Ontario who happened to pick up a month long contract in Hooper Bay doing waterfowl research....after which I plan to spend 7-10 days seeing more of Alaska. I'll be flying in and out of Anchorage. I'm looking to find an area where I can virtually hike and camp exclusively....I'm trying to cut down on costs as much as possible. Does anybody have any input on recommended camping locations, shuttle services....anything that will set me on my way for planning? I realize this is a broad and fairly vague criteria, but really any information on camping and exploring locations/regulations/transportation would be of great help.

    Regards,

    Mark

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by mreade View Post
    I'm looking to find an area where I can virtually hike and camp exclusively....Mark
    You will find that all of the trails are on one side of the creek. If you cross the creek, you will be putting your feet on land that may have never been trod my any man.

  3. #3
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    Alaska's full of great places to explore, but I generally recommend first time visitors stick to the relatively developed areas of Chugach State Park, Chugach National Forest, and maybe the Mat-Su Valley, all pretty close to Anchorage. By developed, I just mean that there are discernable trails, signage, and a few guidebooks - like you'd find in national forests in the rest of the country. You could realistically take a cab to Glen Alps Trailhead and backpack for 7-10 days on the interconnected trails and open tundra out there, and not nearly see all the park has to offer. Aside from Flattop, none of the trails are really crowded. There's an excellent map of the park, published by IMUS I believe that clearly shows the established trails, and even the known routes (!) within the park.

    If going further out of Anchorage, a rental car will make things a lot easier, though there are plenty of trailheads right along the Seward Highway, which should be accessible with public transport, though I don't have details on that.

    Through the rest of the state, developed trails are very few, but some highly recommendable ones are Kesugi Ridge north of Talkeetna, Pinnell Mountain northeast of Fairbanks, and several shorter trails near Cordova. There's also a trail network out along Chena Hot Springs Road, east of Fairbanks. This area tends to get better weather than other mountainous areas in the state, but the scenery doesn't live up to the standards of the higher ranges, and the mosquitoes can be extreme in early summer.

    The best places along the road system to access the high country without trails are probably the Denali Park road, Denali Highway, McCarthy and Nabesna roads in Wrangell St. Elias National Park, the Richardson Highway both through the Chugach (near Valdez) and Alaska Ranges (south of Delta), and the Dalton Highway over Atigun Pass. These destinations will take a substantial amount of planning and dealing with transportation logistics, but it's worth it if your goal is to get "way out" without a bush flight.

  4. #4
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Gotta agree with Heathen on this one... take a cab or hitch a ride to Glen Alps or Girdwood and hike the Chugach. Trail from Eagle River to Girdwood is nice with a degree of civilization on each end.

    Easy logistics and pleasant hiking in the Chugach.

    There is the wonderful White Mountains area with great trails but thats a bit farther out and you'll expend a lot of effort and $$$ to just get there. The Chena Hot Springs area has plenty of trails but its also out of your area as well.

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    Member Rumbarr's Avatar
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    Not stealing your thread here, just curious .. is Chugach mostly heavily trailed ? or are there areas if one put in the effort that could getaway from the mainstream so to speak ?

  6. #6
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    Only the "front range" right behind Anchorage could be called heavily trailed (the line of mountains running north-south from Arctic Valley Ski area to McHugh Peak and Turnagain Arm). Even within Chugach State Park, beyond that first minor range, the trails are more sporadic and it's easy to get way off the beaten path. Eagle/Symphony Lakes is my favorite spot around there to hike into a basecamp on a trail, then explore side valleys and peaks off trail. Chugach National Forest along the Seward Highway is pretty much the same deal. Some established trails with lots of room in between, including some great strenuous but reasonable tundra ridge running.

  7. #7
    Member AK Ray's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rumbarr View Post
    .. is Chugach mostly heavily trailed ?
    The trails are heavily used, but the state park is not heavily trailed. As stated above once you get off the wilderness bike path you will be more alone.

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