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Thru-Hikes in Alaska | Travel Alaska


Backpacking and thru-hiking in Alaska doesn’t mean you need to adventure far off the beaten path! Alaska has some incredible thru-hikes with routes and trails charted, so you can simply prepare and enjoy Alaska’s beautiful backcountry on your own two feet. As with all multi-day hikes, be sure to check local weather updates, pack proper gear, carry bear spray, take wildlife precautions, and bring bug spray in summer months.

Distance: 39 miles, one-way
Time: 3-6 days

The Trail

Resurrection Pass Trail runs north to south and can be started from either trailhead: the north trailhead near Hope or the south trailhead near Cooper Landing. Climbing gradually from both directions, the trail features views of dense forests, rivers, and mountains at lower elevations and open alpine terrain above treeline, dotted with eight public use cabins along the way. Wildlife in the Kenai Mountains is abundant with vast populations of moose, brown bear, black bear, wolves, Dall sheep, mountain goats, lynx, marmots, beavers, bald eagles, and even caribou. The trail is open year-round and, for those not hiking, mountain biking is popular in summer, as is skiing in winter.

To get to and from the parking lot, you can either drive two separate vehicles, parking at one end of the trail and the other, or you can easily shuttle to and from each area using local shuttle services.

Where to Stay

There are campsites and public use cabins off the trail. If you’d like to reserve a cabin, they are available between May 1st and September 30th, but do so well in advance as cabins are typically booked ahead of time.

Camping is simple as there are campsites dotting the trail, available on a first come, first serve basis. Though campsites are often available even at the last minute, in the worst case scenario you’re welcome to camp on the tundra or forest using leave no trace practices. Campsites begin at mile 4 and end at mile 33.7.

Learn more about Resurrection Pass Trail North and Resurrection Pass Trail South.

Resurrection Pass Trail in Alaska

Distance: 21 miles, one way
Time: 2 days

The Trail

Located near Cooper Landingthis is one of the thru-hikes closest to Anchorage. You’ll be able to see Russian River Falls, Lower Russian Lake, and Upper Russian Lake. Please note that this trail has regular bear activity, and much of the trail is overgrown (bring bear spray). It’s a popular destination not only for hikers, but for birding and photographers as well.

If you’re up for an epic, 60-mile adventure thru-hike, the Russian Lakes Trail connects to Resurrection Pass Trail, covering salmon spawning areas, vast tundra, alpine regions, and a mountain lake oasis.

Where to Stay

There are three public use cabins and seven campsites along the trail beginning at mile 5.7 and ending at mile 19.2. Cabins are usually booked well in advance by other hikers, so be sure to reserve early. Campsites are also hard to find in peak summer months but camping is permitted anywhere along the trail.

Learn more about Russian Lakes Trail.

Russian Lakes Trail in Alaska

Distance: 32 miles, round trip
Time: 3 to 5 days

The Trail

This hut-to-hut backpacking trail in Hatcher Pass is full of adventure. The trail is challenging, crossing boulder fields, glaciers, and scree slopes, so preparations must be made to accommodate varying terrain. Not all of the backpacking trail is established, so only those experienced enough to chart routes, cross glaciers, and hike challenging terrain should attempt the trail.

Where to Stay

The trail is best hiked in July through September and huts are available to rent, but those who wish to stay must be a member of the Mountaineering Club of Alaska. Camping is also an option along the trail.

Learn more about the Bomber Traverse.

Mint Hut on the Bomber Traverse in Hatcher Pass

Distance: 29 miles, one way
Time: 3-4 days

The Trail

Located in Denali State Parkthis alpine trail is best hiked in late June through September. The trail offers opportunities to view wildlife, lakes, and the rolling alpine ridgeline, but the real draw is the unparalleled view of Denali and the jagged peaks of the Alaska Range. To arrange travel to and from the trail, shuttle services are available from Anchorage and Fairbanks to the trail, while other shuttles provide transportation between trailheads.

Where to Stay

Be sure to pack your tent! Camping along the trail is the only option for this hike, with many campsites dotting the trail.

Learn more about the K’esugi Ridge Trail.

K'esugi Ridge Trail in Denali State Park, Alaska
Photo Credit: mtnmichelle, istockphoto.com

Lost Lake Trail, Seward

Distance: 16 miles, one way
Time: 2 days

The Trail

This is one of the most scenic hikes in the state, full of lakes, mountain vistas, and alpine ridge views. It is also a popular mountain biking trail (northbound) and is best used June through September. The trail begins in a rainforest area, eventually elevating hikers above the treeline to witness the shimmering blue waters of Lost Lake, waterfalls, high meadows, and even glaciers. Wildlife here includes bears, moose, mountain goats, and marmots.

Where to Stay

Campsites are available along the trail beginning at mile 3.68 through 7.3.

Learn more about the Lost Lake Trail.

Lost Lake Trail near Seward

Chilkoot Trail, Skagway

Distance: 33 miles, one way
Time: 3-5 days

The Trail

Walk in the historical footsteps of the tens of thousands of Stampeders that hiked from Skagway to the Yukon during the Klondike Gold Rush in search of their fortune. Originally a Tlingit trade route, the route over Chilkoot Pass has a long history as an important route connecting the coastal region of the Inside Passage to Canada’s Yukon Territory. Today, the trail is part of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and starts in the ghost town of Dyea just outside of Skagwayand ends in Lake Bennet, British Columbia, leading hikers through temperate rainforest, boreal forest, and high alpine terrain with views of mountains, lakes, rivers, and gold rush artifacts.

Permits are required for hikers during peak season from June 1 – September 13. Most people begin at the trailhead in Dyea and compete the hike in 3-5 days, traveling back to Skagway on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad once they reach Lake Bennet, BC. Park Rangers are posted at some of the nine campgrounds along the way to provide information on the area and trail conditions.

Where to Stay

There are nine designated backcountry campgrounds along the way. Camping is only permitted at these sites and campgrounds must be booked in advance when reserving your permit. Campgrounds feature wooden platforms, pit toilets, food storage lockers, and some have warming cabins and on-site Park Rangers.

Learn more about the Chilkoot Trail.

Bridge on the way to historic Dyea near Skagway
Bridge on the way to historic Dyea and the Chilkoot Trailhead; Photo credit: Jeff Wodniak, istockphoto.com

In the Works – the Alaska Long Trail

While it’s still too early to plan your trip around the Alaska Long Traillocal non-profit Alaska Trails and the Long Trail Coalition are working to develop the ultimate Alaska thru-hike. The Alaska Long Trail will travel over 500 miles from Seward to Fairbanks with stops in gateway communities including Anchorage, Talkeetna, Cantwelland Nana for trail access and resupply stops.

The proposed route is located primarily on public lands and will be a combination of newly developed trails connecting to existing trails. Over 25% of the trail system already exists and this passionate group of trail stewards is working towards securing state and federal funding to support the trail’s development. Visit the Alaska Trails website for more information and updates on the trail’s status. We can’t wait to welcome you to experience the Alaska Long Trail for yourself in the future!



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