Reed Lakes Trail in Hatcher Pass is a scenic trail that leads to two alpine lakes, Upper Reed Lake and Lower Reed Lake.
At a total distance of 9 miles roundtrip, Reed Lakes Trail is seriously one of the best hiking trails in Hatcher Pass. It is such a beautiful hike and the views are so worth it!
I rated this trail as moderate because there is a boulder field that you need to scramble across and it’s challenging for children and small dogs. I would say to leave most dogs at home unless you are willing and capable of carrying your dog if necessary.
I love hiking in Hatcher Pass because the drive just to get there is amazing and it makes for a good road trip. The area is stunning and there’s so much to explore.
In this guide, I’m going to share what you need to know to hike Reed Lakes Trail in Hatcher Pass.
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Hike Reed Lakes Trail Hatcher Pass
Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 9 miles roundtrip
Time: 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,247 feet
Dogs: Not advised
- Paid parking costs $5 USD
- Check the weather forecast before you go
- Bring lots of water and snacks
- Carry bear spray
- Be prepared to carry small children across the boulder field
- Leave your dog at home
When is the Best Time to Hike Reed Lakes Trail?
The best time of the year to hike Reed Lakes Trail is late June to September. I love hiking here in late July when all the snow has melted and everything is green and luscious.
The trail is usually muddy and wet earlier in the season due to the snow melting. The fall brings beautiful colors and fall foliage. The photos that I shared in this hiking guide were taken in September.
During the winter, the road to the trailhead is closed so you will have to add two miles to your total distance. The trail also becomes much more dangerous, especially crossing the boulder field.
Weather in Hatcher Pass
Sometimes the weather in Hatcher Pass is really windy and storms can roll in quickly. Make sure to pay attention to the weather and bring a rain jacket or windbreaker.
How to Get to Reed Lakes Trail:
- From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
- Continue towards Wasilla and exit the highway right at Trunk Road
- Continue on Trunk Road
- Turn left onto Fishhook-Willow Road/N Palmer-Fishhook Road
- Continue onto Fishhook-Willow Road/Hatcher Pass Road
- Turn left to stay on Fishhook-Willow Road/Hatcher Pass Road for about 14 miles
- Turn right onto Archangel Road
- You’ll find the trailhead about 2.4 miles down Archangel Road
Reed Lakes Trail is a popular trail in Hatcher Pass. There is a small parking lot just after the bridge and parking here may be limited. It costs $5 USD to park here. You can also park a little bit up the road.
If you try to hike this trail too early in the season, Archangel Road may be closed. This will add four additional miles to your hike.
Through the Valley
The trail starts off super mellow. The first couple miles of the hike is an easy walk through the meadows.
You’ll follow a wide, old mining trail through the bushes before the trail opens to a wide view of the valley.
As you continue alongside Reed Creek, you will make it to a small stream that you will be able to cross over a set of stepping stones.
There is also a sign that will lead you to the beaver ponds.
There will also be a few small wooden bridges that you will use to cross over more streams.
Looking for another hike in Hatcher Pass? 7 Ultimate hikes in Hatcher Pass.
Up the Switchbacks
Soon after crossing all of the bridges, you will make your way up a series of switchbacks. Make sure to look back at the valley behind you as you climb the switchbacks. You’ll be rewarded with some great views.
The trail will continue to gently climb as you make your way to the boulder field.
Across the Boulder Field
The hardest part of the trail is crossing the boulder field. It can require technical footing and finding your way across isn’t easy.
Be cautious for your small children and pets which may need assistance over this section. A lot of people say that they wouldn’t bring their dogs here again. I love dogs but I say leave them at home for this hike.
Make sure to take your time here. There is no need to rush through the boulder field. Depending on the weather the rocks may be slippery.
After you cross the boulder field, you will follow the trail upstream. On a busy day, you will probably see people on both sides of this narrow section.
Even though the trail is narrow on the left side, you will want to stay on this path. The path on the right side comes to an end and you will have to get your feet wet if you want to cross back to the other side.
Lower Reed Lake
Soon, you will set your eyes on Lower Reed Lake. The Reed Lakes are glacial and have an incredible turquoise color to them.
A lot of people stop here and never make it to Upper Reed Lake. The views at Upper Reed Lake are even more magical. YOU MUST KEEP GOING!
You will see a waterfall off to the left and this is the direction you should head towards.
Upper Reed Lake
It’s another 25-30 minutes to get to Upper Reed Lake from Lower Reed Lake. You will climb up to the left towards the waterfall. The view at Upper Reed Lake is incredible! The lake sits in a bowl surrounded by mountains and it’s every mountain lover’s paradise.
Hiking Beyond Reed Lakes
Just over the ridge from Upper Reed Lake is Bomber Glacier and the remains of a B-29 US Air Force bomber that crashed many years ago.
Getting to Bomber Glacier adds almost two more miles to your hike and more than 1,000′ in elevation. You will need to scramble up the gullies towards the low point and make it out about 30′ above Bomber Glacier on the other side.
This way also connects to the Bomber Traverse, a set of mountaineering huts that make for a great multi-day adventure. If you plan to traverse the glacier, make sure to have the right equipment with you, like crampons.
Camping at Reed Lakes
Reed Lakes Trail is a great overnight backpacking trip, especially for beginners. At lower Reed Lakes, you can pitch your tent on the south side of the lake. At Upper Reed Lakes, you can pitch your tent on the south side of the shoreline, or on a couple of small hills SE of the shore, about 200-400 ft. away.
Nothing beats waking up to views of a turquoise lake high up in the mountains!
There are bears in this area. Although, I’ve never seen one during any of my trips. It’s important to always be bear aware and bring bear spray. If you are planning to camp, make sure to bring bear vaults to keep bears out of your food.
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Do you have any questions about hiking to Reed Lakes in Hatcher Pass? Leave them in the comments below.