10 Best Hikes in Hatcher Pass, Alaska

Hatcher Pass is a recreational area in the Talkeetna Mountains with a ton of hiking trails. You’ll find the perfect mix of well-maintained trails as well as challenging hikes that are off the beaten path, which is why it’s a popular destination to visit for hikers.

During my time growing up and living in Alaska, I spent many days on hikes in Hatcher Pass. It’s one of my favorite places to explore in Southcentral Alaska.

The best part is that getting here is pretty easy. It takes less than an hour and a half to drive here from Anchorage. Hatcher Pass Road is an incredibly scenic drive in Alaska, so I recommend driving the road regardless!

Lower Reed Lakes Trail Hatcher Pass

Below, you’ll find a curated list of my favorite hikes and popular trails in Hatcher Pass that you don’t want to miss. I’ve also included a trail summary for each hike, which includes the total distance, time, elevation gain, and difficulty level.

Lace up your hiking boots for the best Hatcher Pass hikes.

Hatcher Pass Tips

How to get to Hatcher Pass

Hatcher Pass is located 60 miles north of Anchorage and it usually takes less than 1 hour and 20 minutes to drive there.

It’s best to have your own vehicle if you want to explore this area. Some roads in Hatcher Pass are only suitable for 4×4 vehicles. If you’re renting a car, check with your rental company for any road restrictions.

Follow the Glenn Highway north to mile 49.5. Turn onto Palmer-Fishhook Road and follow the signs to Hatcher Pass Road and Independence Mine State Historical Park.

Get directions on Google Maps.

Best time to hike in Hatcher Pass

The best time to hike in Hatcher Pass is from July to October. In June, you’ll still see a lot of snow coverage in the area.

Hatcher Pass road closures

Even though Hatcher Pass is open for recreational use year-round, the road over Hatcher Pass summit is closed during the winter and is usually only open from July 1 to September 15. Each year is different depending on snow conditions. Keep this in mind if you want to hike a trail near Hatcher Pass summit.

Check the weather

Sometimes the weather forecast isn’t actually accurate. If you want to see what the current conditions are in Hatcher Pass, you can check one of the three Hatcher Pass webcams.

Friends of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center provides weather cams for three areas within Hatcher Pass: Independence Mine, Marmot Ridge, and Gold Cord Mine.

Hatcher Pass map

Hatcher Pass East Management Area Map and Brochure from Alaska State Parks.

What to Bring

Hatcher Pass is bear country, so don’t forget bear spray. The weather is always changing out here so you’ll want to carry a rain jacket. There is some cell service in different areas but since it’s a remote area you may want to carry a satellite communication device.

best hatcher pass hikes

10 Best Hiking Trails in Hatcher Pass

1. Independence Mine Trail

Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 173 feet
Difficulty: Very Easy

Independence Mine was one of Alaska’s largest gold mining camps. Visitors can learn about the history of mining in Alaska on a self-guided interpretive tour or on a guided tour which is offered during the summer months.

The short hike along the Hard Rock Trail and Mill Loop Trail is more like a walk so it’s the best hike for families with small children.

How to get to Independence Mine Trail:

Follow the Fishhook-Willow/Hatcher Pass Road, continue past Hatcher Pass Lodge and drive until you reach the Independence Mine State Historical Park Visitor Center.

independence mine trail hatcher pass hikes alaska

2. April Bowl Loop via Hatch Peak

Distance: 2 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 800 feet
Difficulty: Easy

April Bowl Trail is located directly across Summit Lake State Recreation Site. The two mile hike starts with switchbacks and continues onto a rocky ridgeline to the summit of Hatch Peak. From the summit, you’ll get some great views of the mountain pass and other peaks in the Talkeetna Mountain Range.

Most people hike this as an out and back but you can hike April Bowl Trail in a loop. Just continue on the ridge after you reach the summit and follow the trail down the other side of the lakes.

How to get to April Bowl Trailhead:

Follow Hatcher Pass Road through the pass to Mile 19. A small parking lot is available near Summit Lake.

April Bowl Trail Hike Hatcher Pass Alaska

3. Gold Cord Lake Trail

Distance: 1.6 miles
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 459 feet
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Gold Cord Lake Trail is another great option for families looking for an easy hike to do with their children. There are a few boulders along the route so small children may need some assistance.

This Hatcher Pass hike is only 1.6 miles round trip. The first part of the trail is flat and then it gradually climbs the mountainside.

At the end of the trail, you’ll find an emerald-colored alpine lake nestled in a bowl. This is one of my favorite hikes to do on a warm day because I love being able to take a cold dip in the lake.

How to get to Gold Cord Lake Trailhead:

Gold Cord Lake Trailhead begins in the Independence Mine area. Follow the Fishhook-Willow/Hatcher Pass Road and park at the Independence Mine State Historical Park Visitor Center.

hike gold cord lake hatcher pass alaska

4. Skyscraper Mountain

Distance: 1.9 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 990 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Skyscraper Mountain Trail is located near Hatcher Pass summit. The trail is 1.9 miles roundtrip but gains 990 feet of elevation in just one mile, which is why it’s rated as a moderate hike.

You can expect steep and rocky terrain as you hike up a few scree sections. It still makes for a quick hike with amazing views of Summit Lake and the surrounding mountains.

How to get to Skyscraper Mountain Trailhead:

Follow Hatcher Pass Road through the pass to Mile 18.5 and you’ll find a small area for parking along the road.

hiking trails hatcher pass

5. Marmot Mountain

Distance: 2.5 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,955 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Marmot Mountain starts with a few switchbacks that turn into a steep climb, followed by a traverse along the ridgeline until you reach the summit.

Snowfields may remain in late summer so you may want to bring some gaiters. This trail is not recommended on a rainy day because it can be very slippery.

Common wildlife sightings on this hike include marmots and Arctic ground squirrels here.

How to get to Marmot Mountain Trailhead:

Follow the Fishhook-Willow/Hatcher Pass Road until Mile 16.5. Take a right into the Fishhook Trailhead parking lot.

marmot peak hike hatcher pass

6. Reed Lakes

Distance: 9 miles
5 hours
Elevation Gain:
2,247 feet

Reed Lakes Trail is rated as the best day hike in Hatcher Pass by most visitors. The trail is 4.5 miles one-way and leads to two beautiful, glacial lakes, Lower Reed Lake and Upper Reed Lake.

The first couple of miles on the trail are mellow. You’ll pass a beaver dam and ruins from the abandoned Snowbird Mine before making your way up switchbacks.

The hardest part of the trail is crossing the boulder field. Small children and dogs may need assistance over this section.

How to get to Reed Lakes Trailhead:

Follow Fishhook-Willow/Hatcher Pass Road and take a sharp right onto Archangel Road. Follow Archangel Road for a couple of miles and park before the one-lane bridge if your vehicle doesn’t have a high clearance. This is one of the most popular hikes in the area so parking may be limited.

Upper Reed Lake

7. Government Peak

Distance: 6.5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 3,800 feet
Difficulty: Difficult

Government Peak Trail is a challenging hiking trail that climbs up the ridge and ends on the summit at 4,781 feet.

The most common hiking route to the summit of Government Peak starts from the Government Peak Recreation Area. This is the route that’s also used during the annual mountain race.

The easiest route up to the peak is via Blueberry Knoll. As you make the climb up to the summit, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Hatcher Pass area and the Knik Arm.

How to get to Government Peak Trailhead:

Follow Hatcher Pass Road, take a left onto Edgerton Parks Road, then right onto Mountain Trails Drive. Follow the signs for Government Peak State Recreation Area.

8. Lane Basin Trail

Distance: 3.6 miles
Time: 2 hours
Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Lane Basin Trail is an amazing hike in Hatcher Pass that takes you through a beautiful valley. The trail used to end at Lane Hut, but the hut has been removed.

Even though the trailhead is quite close to the Reed Lakes Trailhead, this trail is lesser known and way less crowded. This is all because getting here is only suitable for large vehicles with high clearance on an unpaved road with a ton of boulders. Most rental cars are not allowed on this road.

If you don’t have a suitable vehicle, you can park before the bridge and walk additional miles on the road to reach the Lane Basin Trailhead.

How to get to Lane Basin Trailhead:

Follow Willow Fishhook Road / Hatcher Pass Road and take a right onto Archangel Road. Follow Archangel Road to the end of the road.

favorite hatchers pass hikes

9. Gold Mint Trail to Mint Hut

Distance: 16 miles
Time: 8 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,119 feet
Difficulty: Moderate

Gold Mint Trail is one of the longest hikes in Hatcher Pass and many people plan an overnight hike here.

The 8-mile trail follows the west bank of the Little Susitna River, gently climbs up the mountain valley, and ends at a small mountain hut run by the Mountaineering Club of Alaska.

Huts are first-come, first-serve and no reservations can be made. You’ll also need to be a MCA member to use it.

How to get to Gold Mint Trailhead:

Follow Palmer-Fishhook/Hatcher Pass Road until Mile 13.7. Take a right into the Gold Mint Trail parking lot.

gold mint trail hatcher pass

10. Bomber Traverse

Distance: 32 miles
Time: 2-3 days
Difficulty: Difficult

The Bomber Traverse is one of the most popular hut-to-hut backpacking trails in Alaska. This trail goes deep into the backcountry and includes steep, loose boulder and scree slopes, and glaciers.

I’m still waiting to check this hike off my list but it’s best suited for experienced hikers who are confident in bouldering, glacier crossings and route finding.

There are four huts on the Bomber Traverse, but a fifth hut was added allowing experienced hikers or skiers to complete a 50-mile hike.

How to get to Bomber Traverse:

You can start this trail from either the Reed Lakes Trail or Gold Mint Trail. Depending on where you start the hike, you should leave another vehicle at the other parking area where you will end your hike.

Hike Reed Lakes Trail Alaska

Other Hikes in Hatcher Pass

There are so many other hikes in the Hatcher Pass area to add to your Alaska bucket list.

  • Arch Prospect Trail
  • Fern Mine
  • Craigie Creek
  • Dogsled Pass
  • Schroff Lake
  • Martin Mine
  • Rae-Wallace Mine Trail
  • Government Peak
  • Fairangel Lakes
  • Summit Lake Trail
summit lake hatcher pass alaska

Pin For Later

Hatcher Pass is near Anchorage and the perfect place to go hiking. Here are the best hikes in Hatcher Pass, Alaska.
Hatcher Pass has some of the most popular hiking trails in Alaska. Here are the best Hatcher Pass hikes to add to your Alaska bucket list.

What’s your favorite hike in Hatcher Pass? Let me know in the comments below.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

2 thoughts on “10 Best Hikes in Hatcher Pass, Alaska”

  1. I love to overnight at Reed Lakes a little later in the summer when you can use the darkness to take in the view of the stars.


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