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Hunting Pioneer Ridge - Knik River Rd.

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  • Hunting Pioneer Ridge - Knik River Rd.

    Well, I think it's safe to say I've got the itch, as it's way too late to be awake, still months too early, and all I can think about is how it will feel when I finally connect! I've been hitting the gym pretty hard in anticipation of a chance at my first blackie this spring, knowing full well how much stamina I'll need to get up the trail with a full pack. Since this trailhead (the one around mile 4 or so off of Knik River Rd) is only a couple miles from my cabin, I'm planning to make this trail my highway for the spring pursuit. Perhaps it's not the best choice, and I found a couple places with plenty of bears elsewhere last spring, but the price of diesel is already making me sweat.

    I'm hoping someone who is familiar with the trail and area might be willing to share some insight with regards to strategy, lay of the land, or anything else that might help me accomplish my goal this spring. I intend to do plenty of scouting around as the season nears, but I know that's big country, and I'm admittedly as green as they come. It's probably safe to say that ANY advice would be helpful at this point. Thanks very much.

  • #2
    Grab a hiking book from REI, tons of info on the Chugach trails. Some of them even have picnic tables.


    • #3
      Hit it early. Trail there grows UP quicks, soon you won't be able to see anything until you get most of the way up the trail. The picnic table makes a decent rest for a spotter. The last section of the trail is for experienced climbers only, but I see no reason why you would be hunting that section.
      If I was you, I'd go up past the picnic table a ways, then hook left and sidehill it around and keep moving that way. Up there is the only way you will be able to see anything. The trail goes through pretty thick trees, brush and grass and such. Not much for critters up there. Seen bear prints, couple moose, couple bunnies and not a whole lot else the many times I've been up there. Pay the parking fee, because it's not a Chugach Nat'l Forest trail, its in the Matsu Borough Trail.. blah blah blah, anyway; they patrol it regularly and will ticket you. The three dollars is less than the ticket. Trail is easy climb that gets SLOPPY when wet. Watch your footing. Good luck.

      In a nutshell.. Go up, go left, keep walking, stay high, go early because the brush is tall. Keep at it, you will find a bear or two. The rest is up to you.


      • #4
        Thanks for the info gentlemen. ICB, what are you considering early? Part way into June before visibility is nil? I'll be sure to shoot you out a private message and let you know how it goes for me if you're interested. Thanks again.


        • #5
          You should be able to start learning the trail now. If it is like Lazy Mountain, people hike it year round. Personally I would wear my 6 point heel/instep crampons, but it is probably not needed. From the parking lot, the trail kind of zig zags through the trees for a mile or two. In the summer, you are under a canopy of leaves most of this lower part. Once you break free of the big trees, you will see a big white rock, then a picnic table. The trail makes a 90 degree turn to the left here, but I would check the draw straight up and to the left. Going uphill on the trail, in no time at all you have another 90 degree turn to the left this time. If you don't turn, but take a couple more step forward and look over the edge of the trail you will see the second picnic table. You have a panorama of the Knik River. Awesome. Back on the trail, the next few miles takes you straight up a ridge line with about 100 "false" peaks. Eventually you will see another table to the right of the trail. In the summer, there is water in the creak here, but lots of ship dropping too. I would keep going up the trail, and in no time you get to the forth and last picnic table at 5300 feet elevation if I am not mistaken. It is surrounded by a permanent ice field. The trail goes to the right and you follow a knife edge for about a mile...on the left is Goat Creak about 2000 feet below you...that is a great valley to scope too. From the table you can go across the ice field, or stay to the left and look down into Hunter Creek or up and over towards Eklutna Lake. Lots of open areas to glass. Hope that gives you some ideas of what to expect. Like I said, you should be able to easily get to the first 2 tables this time of year. I am not sure what the ridge line above the 2nd table would be like now, I have never gone there this time of year. If you are interested I would be happy to show you the way...I will grab a dog or two and we can head up the trail...I am off all this coming week :-) Somewhere I have a Mini DV video I took a few years ago when I came down the trail from the knife edge rim trail near the top, to the bottom. I would take about 10 seconds of film every 100 yards or so. Great summer footage.
          "...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


          • #6
            "Donít know if youíd like to add this to your description of Pioneer Ridge, but itís really fun in March:
            I climbed to the ridge on a sunny March day. Some parts were actually made easier by the snow. The boggy parts just below and just above the first picnic table, for example. And once you get above the second picnic table, you can choose whatever line suits you without worrying about damaging the tundra. I chose a route that was as steep as my cramping legs could handle, and that minimized side-hilling. Above that second picnic table, I could have taken my snowshoes off. The snow was set up firm enough to walk on, although traction might have been somewhat of a problem. My walking caused an avalanchey WHOOMF! in a couple of places. I simply started hiking to the nearest local ridge to get out of the bowl. The ridges were generally scoured nearly free of snow. It was extremely spectacular up there: comparable to the summer, but in a totally different way.
            The one difficult part was the stretch between the first and second picnic tables. Yes, I didnít have to hold on for dear life on account of the mud. But I kind of lost the trail for a bit there, and the penalty was bottomless powdery snow. I was breaking through to mid-thigh depth, even in my snowshoes. It was extremely taxing, and resulted in the cramps I mentioned above. So when in doubt on that stretch of the trail, stay high. I went low and paid the price.
            The round-trip hike took 6.5 hours"

            I got this from a hiking website that i thought might help you out. i plan on doing this trail this weekend. I plan on going up there and glassing around as well as going down maud road and checking out the conditions out there. If anyone is familiar with the area is there a good spot to get above treeline out there.



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