Biking Johnson Pass Trail in Alaska

Johnson Pass Trail is a popular mountain biking and backpacking route on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

This well-maintained multi-use trail is a 23-mile route that offers fun riding through beautiful scenery.

It’s also part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail – Southern Trek (INHT), a 180-mile
section of the 1,000 mile-long Iditarod route.

There are plenty of designated campsites along the way which make it a great multi-day backpacking trip, but I prefer to bike this trail.

In this post, I’m going to share everything you need to know to bike Johnson Pass Trail in Alaska.


Biking Johnson Pass Trail in Alaska

Trail Summary

Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 23 miles one-way
Time: 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,000 feet
Difficulty: Moderate
Dogs: Yes

Johnson Pass Trail Map

Johnson Pass Trail Map

Quick Tips

  • Check the weather forecast before you go
  • Carry bear spray
  • Wear bug repellant
  • Plan your vehicle shuttle
  • Ride early in the season
  • Avoid riding after rainy days

How to Get to Johnson Pass Trail North

Johnson Pass is located 64 miles south of Anchorage. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway. Follow the Seward Highway for 63 miles until you reach the Johnson Pass North parking area.

How to Get to Johnson Pass Trail South

From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway. Follow the Seward Highway until you reach the Forest Service signed pullout for trailhead (west of Upper Trail Lake) at Mile 32.5.


Planning Your Johnson Pass Bike Ride

Best Season

Although this trail is open year-round, it’s best to go earlier than later. The best conditions are usually mid-June (when the snow has melted and the trail has dried out) to very early July (before the trail gets insanely overgrown).

You’ll also probably come across some downed trees and small stretches of water to bike though.

Where to Start From

Johnson Pass is 23 miles long and the two main trailheads are Johnson Pass Trail North and Johnson Pass Trail South.

It can be completed both ways but it’s way better to start from the north trailhead so you can enjoy more downhill sections.

How to Shuttle Vehicles

Since the trail is completed one-way, you need to arrange a vehicle shuttle and it’s best if you have two vehicles to do this. You can drop off one car at the south trailhead and drive to the north trailhead

If you don’t have access to two vehicles or any vehicles, you can arrange a shuttle through Wildman’s Store on the Sterling Highway or plan an out-and-back instead.

Johnson Pass Trail Weather

To check the current conditions, you can contact the Seward Ranger District (907) 288-3178.


Johnson Pass Trailhead North Trailhead

Starting from the north trailhead, you’ll follow a single track through forest and open meadow. Some sections can be rooty or rocky and you’ll find sections of flooded, muddy areas if it’s been raining.

Mountain biking trail alaska

The trail crosses Center Creek and Bench Creek on bridges and you’ll reach Bench Lake at mile 9. This is a great place to stop and eat lunch.

Johnson Pass Trail Bench Lake Johnson Lake Mountain Bike

There’s nothing too technical along the trail but if you aren’t used to mountain biking for 20 miles, you may find it challenging and you’ll be ready to be done by the time you make it to Johnson Lake.

Johnson Pass Trail Mountain Bike Trail

You’ll reach the top of Johnson Pass at an elevation of 1,450 feet.

Johnson Pass Alaska

All of the downhill sections make this trail super fun to mountain bike. After reaching the lakes, the rest of the trail is mostly downhill dropping into a dense spruce forest, and the last five miles are pretty flat.

Kenai Peninsula Mountain Biking Trail

The last two miles have views of Upper Trail Lake before finishing at the south trailhead. It’ll take you around 5 hours to bike the entire trail from north to south.


Additional Information

Designated Camping Sites

There are 7 designated backcountry campsites along the trail. Most sites have a bear resistant food locker and a backcountry toilet.

Here is a list of designated campsites with mile markers and GPS coordinates:

Northbound

Mile 7.2 N 60° 33’ 21.09” W 149° 18’ 22.08”
Mile 11.7 N 60° 35’ 56.3” W 149° 15’ 17.1”
Mile 12.5 N 60° 36’ 35.2” W 149° 14’ 57.3”

Southbound

Mile 4.0 N 60° 41’ 5.4” W 149º 13’ 36.4”
Mile 5.3 N 60° 40’ 07” W 149° 13’ 53.5”
Mile 7.9 N 60° 38’ 18.4” W 149° 13’ 17.3”
Mile 8.24 N 60° 38’ 2.3” W 149° 13’ 12.1”

Wildlife Sightings

Wildlife in the area includes moose, wolves, black and brown bears, Dall sheep, Willow Ptarmigan and Spruce Grouse.

Fishing

You can fish in Bench Lake for grayling and in Johnson Lake for Rainbow Trout. Check Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) regulations for more details.

Happy biking!


Read More

9 Best Alaska Backpacking Trails to Thru-Hike

Backpacking Resurrection Pass Trail in Alaska

Knik Glacier Fat Bike Winter Trip

Alaska Travel Guide


Pin For Later

Mountain Biking Johnson Pass Trail in Alaska. Classic southcentral Alaska biking and backpacking trip through the Kenai Mountains. Add this adventure travel experience to your Alaska vacation.

Do you have any questions about biking Johnson Pass Trail in Alaska? Let me know in the comments.

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

2 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Teejay
15 days ago

Be helpful if cost & where to get the required bike pass for the lift was listed.

FOLLOW ALONG ON INSTAGRAM