Brochure and Map
Brochure and Map for Hatcher Pass State Management Area in Alaska. Published by Alaska State Parks.
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Welcome to Area History For More Information Alaska State Parks Mat-Su/Copper Basin Area Office 7278 E. Bogard Road Wasilla, AK 99654 Hatcher Pass Management Area, located in the southwestern Talkeetna Mountains, owes its rugged, vertical landscape to tectonic collisions occurring along the Castle Mountain Fault. The fault—crossing under the road a few miles south of Hatcher Pass—forced ancient slabs of rock skyward, with some containing veins of gold that would attract fortune seekers millions of years later. (907)745-3975 www.alaskastateparks.org H atcher P ass East Management Area Robert Lee Hatcher discovered lode gold near the summit of Skyscraper Mountain in September 1906. After the discovery, the area sprang to life with industry and multiple mining interests. Business was booming, but when the United States entered World War II, gold production was deemed nonessential and the mines fell silent. Welcome Long ago, miners wandered into the Talkeetna Mountains searching for gold, but what they found was even more precious. With over 300,000 mountainous acres, historic sites, and diverse wildlife, Hatcher Pass is one of Alaska’s favorite backcountry getaways. Most of the Hatcher Pass East Management Area is managed by Alaska State Parks. However, portions are cooperatively managed with the Division of Mining Land and Water and the Mat-Su Borough. Hiking, biking, berry picking, paragliding, and horseback riding will thrill you in the summer. Skiing (cross-country and downhill), snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing, and snowmachining will chill you in the winter. Beautiful alpine scenery can be appreciated any time of the year. After the mines closed, local residents were quick to realize the value of the access roads leading deep into the mountains. The area surrounding Hatcher Pass became known for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. In 1974, Independence Mine was added to the National Register of Historic Places and later to the Hatcher Pass Management Area. Camping Hiking Hatcher Pass East Management Area has two camping areas located along Hatcher Pass Road: Government Peak Campground (mile 11), and Gold Mint Trailhead (mile 14). Well water is available at both campgrounds. Backcountry campers must set up camp at least 0.5 mile from any road or facility. Hatcher Pass has plenty to offer those making their way by foot. The scenic walk around Summit Lake is short and easy. Gold Mint Trail is moderate and popular, but those looking for a challenge can hike the Reed Lakes Trail. Huts Three huts, the Snowbird, Bomber, and Mint, are managed by the Mountaineering Club of Alaska. They are available on a first come, first served basis. A fourth, the Lane hut, is not actively managed. See map inside for locations. Little Susitna River Photo courtesy of Nicole Acevedo Miners may have grabbed most of the gold, but they left the best parts behind. So, lace up your boots, and top off the rig, because the memories will be priceless. Touring Visitors less inclined to blisters and trail mix can still take in the history and scenery along Hatcher Pass Road. Typically open between July and September, depending on snow depth, the road peaks at 3,886 feet and is one of the highest scenic drives in Alaska. The PalmerFishhook Road is paved until mile 17.5, but the next 15 miles is a rough, narrow, and steep gravel road and is not recommended for RVs, trailers and large vehicles. The drive can be slow, but the views are worth it. The road ends at mile 71.2 on the Parks Highway near Willow. Independence Mine Photo courtesy of Dan Kehlenbach Back country ridge walk in Hatcher Pass EMA Photo courtesy of Matthew Johnson Highlights Independence Mine State Historical Park At Independence Mine State Historical Park (SHP), you can learn what it was like to live and work in one of Alaska’s largest gold mining camps. Interpretive displays lead visitors through the historic mine buildings and equipment. Guided tours may be offered during summer. Although the mine shut its doors in 1951, there’s still a bit of gold left. Prospectors are allowed to recreationally pan for gold within the park— provided it’s with shovels only. Alaska State Parks Wildlife Hatcher Pass’s alpine landscapes may seem devoid of wildlife because most alpine inhabitants are camouflage experts. However, if you stand still, listen, and watch carefully, you may detect movement. Moose, caribou, sheep, black and brown bears, wolf, wolverine, coyote, beaver, fox, marten, mink, hare, Arctic ground squirrels, collared pikas, hoary marmots, and lynx can all be found in the area. Bald Eagle Photo courtesy of Bill Evans Look up and you may see a bird of prey soaring above you, scanning the area for its next meal. Ptarmigan, spruce grouse, songbirds, and small mammals all live here and are on their menu. Some birds, such as Lapland longspurs, whimbrels, and long-tailed jaegers, occasionally shortcut their normal migration and nest in this area. Keep your binoculars and camera close! Hoary Marmot Photo courtesy of Gina Smith Summit Lake State Recreation Site Summit Lake State Recreation Site (SRS) is located at mile 19.3 along Hatcher Pass Road. This small cirque lake, or alpine tarn, is a remnant of a glacier that once sat amid these peaks. A trail leading around the lake allows for easy exploration, and a nearby bluff offers exemplary views and is a popular launch site for paragliders. Ridge above Summit Lake Photo courtesy of Nicole Acevedo Bluff near Summit Lake Photo courtesy of Nicole Acevedo Hatcher Pass East Management Area Background photo courtesy of Nicole Acevedo See the map inside this brochure for descriptions of some popular trails. You can find more detailed information at www.alaskastatetrails.org. Northern Harrier Photo courtesy of Christopher Taylor Porcupine Photo courtesy of Bill Evans Winter Wonderland As the first miners explored these mountains, they took up skiing as a way to travel the terrain and pass the time. Historic photos show miners skiing when Independence Mine was in operation. In the 1960s and 1970s, Anchorage residents would flock to the old Fishhook Inn to use the rope tow. Today, the Hatcher Pass area is one of the best cross-country skiing destinations in the state. Independence Mine SHP and Archangel Road are regularly groomed and popular with skiers. Ample slopes attract snowboarders and downhill skiers as well. Left—1st Lieutenant Edith Spitzer, Army Nurse, skiing at Independence Mine in 1943. Notice Boomtown in the background. Photo courtesy of ALSAP/Sanferd Spitzer. Lynx Photo courtesy of Gina Smith Below—Skiing Hatcher Pass Photo courtesy of Dan Joling and the Mat-Su Borough Snowmachiner Photo courtesy of Mike Morris Little Susitna Snowmachining More into horsepower than ski wax? Hatcher Pass is one of the premier snowmachining areas in Southcentral Alaska. You can ride on a wide variety of terrain, ranging from groomed trails to backcountry valleys. Be sure to abide by park rules, and know the hazards of the routes you’re traveling. The entire length of Archangel Road, and Summit Lake SRS to the Gold Mint parking lot, are open to snowmachining. Scientists and park employees evaluating snow pack for avalanche safety Avalanches Avalanches can occur throughout the Hatcher Pass area. Steep, snow-covered slopes, gullies, and areas below steep ridges are particularly susceptible. Most avalanches happen after heavy or sustained snowfalls and windstorms, but they can happen anytime snow is on the slopes. Take a class to learn the warning signs, techniques, and gear needed to protect yourself. Check local avalanche centers for updates. Brown Bear Photo courtesy of Rolland Martin Collared Pika Photo courtesy of Ike Waits www.denaliguidebook.com Photo of Independence Mine and Summit Lake courtesy of Steve Neel Ground Squirrel Photo courtesy of Steve Neel Alpenglow on mountains at Hatcher Pass Photo courtesy of Andre Kaeppele Bomber Hut Independence Mine Area East 1. Manager’s House (Visitor Center) 2. Bunkhouse No. 2 3. Framing Shop 4. Bunkhouse No. 1 5. Apartment House 6. Engineering/ Commissary 7. Bunkhouse/ Warehouse Gold Cord Lake Trail Ha 0.06 3 6 5 0.3 5 Following the west bank of the Little Susitna River to its source in the Mint Glacier Valley, the Gold Mint Trail is relatively easy, but steepens into a glacier-rimmed valley toward the end. 0.05 8 Reed Lakes Trail 1 3 Access: Archangel Road Travel Means: Foot, bike Distance: 9 miles round trip Elevation Gain: 1,600 feet Area Boundary Snowmachine trail Gold Cord Lake Trail East/West Boundary* Snowmachine route Road Biking Parking Cross-country skiing Access: Independence Mine Area Parking Travel Means: Foot Distance: 1.7 miles round trip Elevation Gain: About 800 feet Trailhead Downhill skiing Hiking trail Dog mushing Hiking trail (inset) Hut (privately managed) Accessible (paved) Camping Interpretive Trail Picnicking Restrooms Viewing Information Water April Bowl Trail This trail begins with switchbacks, taking you through a small valley with a cirque lake and several small ponds. It soon turns into a ridge trail and is extremely narrow and rough, ending at Hatch Peak. • ALWAYS let someone know where you’re going. • Hatcher Pass is an AVALANCHE HAZARD AREA. Be sure to take your beacons, shovels, and probes and know how to use them. • Hypothermia is deadly. Weather conditions can change unexpectedly, leaving the unprepared in danger. • Learn the hazards of the terrain. Never travel alone, and always carry a pack with safety gear and emergency provisions. You’ll never regret being too prepared. Falls at Reed Lakes Miner’s cabin Blueberry picking Photo courtesy of Danielle Wagar 0 1 2 3 1 2 3 4 Access: Mile 19 of the Hatcher Pass Road Travel Means: Foot Distance: 2.2 miles round trip Elevation Gain: About 800 feet Backcountry Safety Kilometers 3 Gold Cord Lake Trail is an excellent choice for families with children or groups with different fitness levels. The final section gains moderate elevation to the lake. 4 *The E/W Boundary may change in the near future 0 2 This trail follows Reed Creek and passes turquoise lakes, waterfalls, and the abandoned Snowbird Mine ending at Upper Reed Lake. The first 1.5 miles are easy and follow an old road to an abandoned cabin. The rest of the trail is challenging and includes a boulder field marked by cairns. Legend N 1 Access: Mile 14 on the Palmer-Fishhook Road Travel Means: Foot, bike, ski Distance: 16 miles round trip Elevation Gain: 1,000-foot plus gain 2 0.09 il 7 9 Gold Mint Trail 1 0.0 8 0.08 Tr a 8. Mess Hall 9. Plumbing, Sheet Metal, and Electrical Shops 10. Assay Office 11. Mill Complex 12. Mine Shops 4 For more information on trails in Hatcher Pass East Management Area, visit www.alaskastateparks.org Lane Hut tive Lo Interpre op Mil 10 Hut at Mint Glacier Photo courtesy of Cecil Sanders Trail Descriptions 2 0.07 12 11 Mint Hut Creek 0.2 rd 3 Ro ck Tra i l k ishhoo Fork F 0.09 lL oo p Snowbird Hut Miles Photo courtesy of pson Thom Daniel Small alpine tarn above Summit Lake along the April Bowl Trail Photo courtesy of Nicole Acevedo Mint Glacier Photo courtesy of Gordon Sanders Reed La kes