Backpacking Resurrection Pass Trail is a classic Southcentral Alaska multi-day backpacking trip. This 39-mile long trail is well maintained and has several designated campsites and public use cabins to stay in along the way.
This hike will lead you through the Kenai Mountains northbound from the communities of Cooper Landing to Hope but can also be completed southbound from Hope to Cooper Landing.
The Resurrection Pass Trail South in Cooper Landing is located 106 miles, a 2-hour drive, south of Anchorage, and is best used from June to October. However, the trail is open year-round and a lot of people ski or bike to the public use cabins during the winter.
In this post, I’m going to share everything you need to know to hike Resurrection Pass Trail northbound from Cooper Landing to Hope, Alaska.
The photos that I share in this trail guide are from early September.
Backpacking Resurrection Pass Trail in Alaska
Resurrection Pass Trail Map
- Reserve your cabins early in the season as they tend to book out
- Pick up all food and supplies in Anchorage or another large city
- Check whether your reserved cabin has a wood or propane stove
- Carry bear spray
How to get to Resurrection Pass Trail South
- From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway
- Continue for 87 miles
- Take a slight right onto the Sterling Highway
- Continue for 16 miles through Cooper Landing
- Resurrection Pass Trail South parking lot will be on your right
Planning a Resurrection Pass Trail Route
Even though this trail is open year-round, it’s best to plan a multi-day backpacking trip from June to October. June and July are the warmest months of the year. You may still find patches of snow in June.
Fall brings some incredible colors through the valley and tons of wild berries. Summer brings plenty of daylight hours in Alaska, so you have more than enough time to hike long days if you want to.
Where to Start From
The Resurrection Pass Trail is 39-miles long and the two main trailheads are Resurrection Pass Trail South in Cooper Landing and Resurrection Pass Trail North in Hope. The route can be completed both ways.
If you start from Cooper Landing you’ll get most of your climbing out of the way early and you’ll get to enjoy a nice downhill into Hope. If you start in Hope then you will have a long, gradual incline until you reach the top of the pass at 2,600 ft.
A lot of hikers end up planning their routes based on cabin availability. Read how to reserve public use cabins in Alaska. Cabins are reserved early in the season so don’t wait until the last minute to secure your accommodations.
There are a few trails that connect to Resurrection Pass Trail. Bean Creek Trail is another access point in Cooper Landing, which a lot of people use this trail as an alternative winter route to Juneau Lake Cabin.
Devils Pass Trail is another connecting trail and can be used to shorten the total length of your backpacking trip. This trail is also popular with mountain bikers.
Need help packing? Start with What to Wear Hiking in Alaska (Summer)
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. We dropped one car off at the north trailhead in Hope and then everyone hopped into the second vehicle to drive to the south trailhead in Cooper Landing. It’s really nice to just hop into a car and go after a 4-day backpacking trip.
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. They offer shuttle service to and from Resurrection Pass Trail at a group rate.
How Many Days Do You Need?
Most people plan 3 to 5 days to backpack the entire trail. We had 4 days to hike the whole trail and I think it was the perfect amount of time. It didn’t feel too rushed or too long.
We had enough time to enjoy coffee in the morning, stop and spot wildlife, take lunch breaks, pick blueberries, and truly cherish everything the trail had to offer. And, by the time we reached our cabin for the night, we still had plenty of time to hang out, play games, drink, relax and recover for the next day’s miles.
Where to Stay: Cabins vs Campsites
There are eight public use cabins and 16 designated campsites along the trail. Public use cabins are equipped with wooden bunks, wood or propane stoves, outhouses, and more. It’s a great option for large groups. Plus, you don’t have to carry the additional weight of a tent.
Campsites are equipped with outhouses and bear storage lockers. Most of the campsites are located near the public use cabins and a water source.
If you want to check current Resurrection Pass Trail conditions, contact the Seward Ranger District.
Resurrection Pass Trailhead
The Resurrection Pass Trailhead South can be found in Cooper Landing, Alaska. There is a huge parking lot for you to park your vehicle. There are public toilets available to use and a trail registry to register you and your group on the trail.
Try not to leave any valuables in sight in order to prevent anyone from smashing your windows. Unfortunately, this is happening more often at trailheads in Alaska.
My 4-Day Backpacking Route
Day 1 – Cooper Landing to Juneau Lake Cabin
Daily Miles: 9.5 miles; Total Time: 4 hours, 12 minutes
We made it to the Resurrection Pass trailhead around 12:30 p.m. and started the first leg of our hike from Cooper Landing to Juneau Lake Cabin. The trail is well maintained and starts to gradually incline as you make your way through the forest.
Since we hiked the trail in September and it was lightly raining, we definitely had to navigate some muddy areas. Even though the trail is well-maintained, you’ll find that a lot of the trail is single-track and you will eventually brush up on some wet leaves and branches.
There is some construction going on because of the new road they’re building through Cooper Landing. You may see construction equipment along the trail. It’s not bothersome but it is noticeable.
Juneau Creek Falls – Mile 4.5
One of the first highlights of the trail is Juneau Creek Falls at mile 4.5. You will definitely hear the falls before you see them. There is a small trail off to the right and it will take you towards the cliff. Be careful not to get too close to the edge as the rocks tend to be very slippery.
After checking out the waterfall, you will make your way across the first wooden bridge. You will also see the trail access to Bean Creek Trail at mile 4.6, which is the common winter route access.
As you continue hiking, you will see some of the damage from the Swan Lake Fire that happened in 2019. The fire was ignited by lightning but a lot of fires in Alaska are human-caused. So, this is a great reminder to practice Leave No Trace in Alaska.
Trout Lake Cabin & Romig Cabin
The first state cabin on the trail is Trout Lake Cabin at mile 7.3. You can take the time to hike to the cabin and check out Trout Lake, which can’t be seen from the main trail.
Romig Cabin is the second cabin on the Resurrection Pass Trail heading northbound at mile 9.0. This cabin sits at the edge of Juneau Lake. The trail continues along the edge of the lake and it’s so beautiful!
Juneau Lake Cabin – Mile 9.5
On the north side of Juneau Lake, we finally set our eyes on Juneau Lake Cabin at mile 9.5. The cabin sits on top of a small hill and you have to climb a long set of steps up the hill to reach the cabin.
We made it to the cabin in 4 hours and 12 minutes.
This was the hardest day on the trail for me because I was carrying the full weight of my pack. I like to pack a lot of water on the first day for convenience and I tend to get thirsty. If you need water, get water from the lake and make sure you filter the water before you drink it.
The view from the windows of the cabin is amazing since Juneau Lake sits below. But, the best part about staying in this cabin is that there are two canoes that you can use! The canoes sit at the bottom of the hill and you can find paddles and life jackets in the back of the cabin. Be careful in the silver canoe because there was a small leak that was filling our boat with water. Yikes!
Day 2 – Juneau Lake Cabin to Devils Pass Cabin
Daily Miles: 7.2 miles + 0.8 miles to Swan Lake; Total Time: 3 hours, 17 minutes
It was a slow morning since we only had 7.2 miles of hiking for the day. We left the cabin around 12:30 p.m. and headed out in the drizzling rain. Luckily, it only took 15 minutes for the rain to stop.
Swan Lake – Mile 12.7
The first stop of the day was Swan Lake at mile 12.7 to quickly check out Swan Lake Cabin. We dropped out packs at the trail sign and hiked 0.8 miles roundtrip to the lake. I love the scenery here and I would definitely want to stay at this cabin in the future.
We headed back to grab our packs and started to climb up the valley. One of my favorite views, as I looked behind me, was the view of Swan Lake from above. The blue skies started to open up and it really brought some of the colors in the mountains.
As we continued up the valley, the fall colors were really popping. The further north we went, the more in fall season it seemed to be. The trail was so beautiful and I highly recommend hiking Resurrection Pass Trail during this time of year.
Devils Pass Cabin – Mile 16.7
We made it to Devils Pass Cabin in 3 hours and 17 minutes. This is one of my favorite cabins because it sits in the open valley and the views are amazing.
You can also access the cabin from Devils Pass Trail. This route is 10.2 miles and it’s commonly used by hikers, mountain bikers, and skiers, and can also be used to shorten the entire length of the trail.
This cabin has an oil stove so you will need to pack and carry some oil with you if you want to heat the cabin. Devils Pass Cabin also has an outhouse with one of the best views on the trail. Make sure to carry a headlamp with you as the days get darker because it’s hard to see and feels a little creepy making your way to the outhouse.
Day 3 – Devils Pass Cabin to Fox Creek Cabin
Daily Miles: 10.8 miles; Total Time: 4 hours, 45 minutes
The morning light through the cabin windows was incredible. It was chilly but I took my morning coffee outside to get some sun rays on my face.
Juneau Creek flows next to the cabin as your water source. It’s a great place to freshen up and splash some cold water on your face, or soak your feet.
We left the cabin around 10:30 a.m. This was also the same time we had our first bear sighting. Just above the cabin near the top of the ridge behind us was a bear wandering around. It was hard to see and get a good photo, which I’m actually happy about…
Shortly after getting on the trail, we found tons of fresh blueberries. This is another benefit to hiking the trail during fall because that means it’s berry season. You will be warned that this will likely increase your total hiking time :).
Resurrection Pass Trail Summit – 2,600 ft.
Resurrection Pass Trail tops out at 2,600 feet. There is a small sign at the summit that makes for a great photo opportunity. This area of the trail was really beautiful because the valley opened up and the fall colors were so prominent.
Just a couple miles north of the summit, we started to see fresh bear tracks along the trail. Soon enough, we spotted a lot of bears up on the ridgeline across from us. I love this photo of the mama bear and cub footprints below.
Fox Creek Cabin – Mile 27.5
We made it to Fox Creek Cabin at mile 27.5 in 4 hours and 45 minutes. The cabin sits next to a small creek, Fox Creek, and this is your source of water.
The weather was nice enough outside to spend some time reading outside and airing out my tired feet. The evening was spent playing card games and enjoying a beautiful sunset.
It seemed like it would be a clear night and in hopes of seeing the Northern Lights (without knowing the forecast), I set an alarm for 1:00 a.m. to see if they were out. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see them.
Day 4 – Fox Creek Cabin to Hope
Daily Miles: 11.5 miles; Total Time: 5 hours, 10 minutes
We woke up to frost covering the entire cabin and the steps were super slippery. Since the last day of our backpacking trip was also the longest, we were on the trail by 9:30 a.m. It turned into a beautiful bluebird day. After starting off super cold, the temperature began to rise with the sun.
We stopped at Caribou Creek Cabin for lunch and saw so many bears on the ridge across from us. It was hard to see them since I wasn’t wearing my glasses but we noticed at least 10 bears on the mountain that day.
The last few miles on the trail are exciting, especially if you’ve hiked this part of the trail before and know that the Resurrection Creek footbridge marks the end of Resurrection Pass Trail.
After 4 days of hiking through rain, sun, and chilly temps, I was ready for a hot shower and a hot meal.
We had to drive back to Cooper Landing to pick up the other vehicle so we decided to stop by Cooper Landing Brewing for a rewarding beer and some food. At the time, Blue Yeti was the food truck on site. They sell burgers and sandwiches and I highly recommend trying the Rally Burger. It was a suiting name to our adventure but it was just really tasty… 12/10 recommend.
Designated Camping Sites
There are 16 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:
Mile 4.27 N 60° 30’ 42” W 149° 54’ 08”
Mile 6.92 N 60° 32’ 37.1” W 149° 53’ 3.6”
Mile 7.3 N 60° 32’ 54.2” W 149° 53’ 10.6”
Mile 8.42 N 60° 33’ 49.6” W 149° 52’ 36.7”
Mile 9.08 N 60° 34’ 20.2” W 149° 52’ 23.9
Mile 10.26 N 60° 35’ 21.1” W 149° 52’ 14.1”
Mile 12.58 N 60° 36’ 49.7” W 149° 50’ 35.9”
Mile 12.72 N 60° 37’ 1.8” W 149° 50’ 46.1”
Mile 13.55 N 60° 37’ 3.5” W 149° 49’ 49.2”
Mile 15.59 N 60° 36’ 53.3” W 149° 46’ 34.9”
Mile 4.06 N 60° 49’ 8.7” W 149° 38’ 45”
Mile 5.26 N 60° 48’ 10.9” W 149° 39’ 12.4”
Mile 7.14 N 60° 46’ 58.9” W 149° 40’ 35”
Mile 9.71 N 60° 45’ 13.8” W 149° 41’ 42.4”
Mile 12.6 N 60° 43’ 21.1” W 149° 43’ 26.5”
Mile 14.6 N 60° 42’ 09” W 149° 45’ 08.3”
Public Use Cabins
There are eight public use cabins along the trail. It is unlawful to use a public recreation cabin without a cabin permit, so make sure to book your reservation online.
Here is a list of cabins with mile markers and GPS coordinates.:
Trout Lake Mile 7.3
N 60° 33’ 05” W 149° 53’ 36”
Romig Mile 9.0
N 60° 34’ 13.4” W 149° 52’ 32.5
Juneau Lake Mile 9.5
N 60° 34’ 35” W 149° 52’ 16”
Swan Lake Mile 12.7
N 60° 36’ 53.8” W 149° 50’ 29.1”
Caribou Creek Mile 7.1
N 60° 47’ 01.2” W 149° 40’ 41.4”
Fox Creek Mile 11.7
N 60° 43’ 47.6” W 149° 42’ 33.4”
East Creek Mile 14.5
N 60° 42’ 12” W 149° 45’ 09”
Devils Pass Mile 21.5
N 60° 37’ 17.5” W 149° 45’ 7.9”
A lot of people mountain bike Resurrection Pass Trail in one day. Most people start biking from Hope or Devils Pass. It also makes a great trail for an overnight bikepacking trip.
Wildlife in the area includes moose, black and brown bears, caribou, wolves, marmot, Dall sheep, mountain goats, ptarmigan, and grouse. The only wildlife we saw on the trail were the bears (at a far distance) and one marmot.
Bring your fishing pole because there are a few spots to fish along Resurrection Pass Trail.
- Juneau Creek – Dolly Varden, Rainbow, Grayling
- Trout Lake – Whitefish, Rainbow/Lake Trout
- Juneau Lake – Whitefish, Burbot, Grayling, Rainbow/Lake Trout
- Swan Lake – Dolly Varden, Sockeye Salmon, Rainbow
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Do you have any questions on backpacking Resurrection Pass Trail in Alaska? Ask me in the comments.