Hatcher Pass is filled with miles of trails that offer breathtaking views of the Matanuska Valley below. There are trails for all skill levels of hikers, from novice to expert, as well as short hikes all the way to days-long treks. Located just a half-hour north of Wasilla and Palmer, Hatcher Pass is the perfect spot to spend a day exploring the great outdoors.
Some of our favorite hikes in Hatcher Pass include:
This hike is popular because it starts out on flat, easy terrain for the first few miles, then turns into a bit more difficult. Park at the Archangel Road parking lot and start your trek. There are breathtaking views of the lower valleys and the Little Susitna River. After the first mile or so, the next few miles require traversing some boulders, before the trail starts climbing along a ridge. The first few miles are recommended for hikers of all skill levels, however, the second half requires a little more expertise. It is a 4.5 mile hike from the parking lot to Upper Reed Lake, where the trail ends. Here's a map of the trail. Download a map.
Gold Mint Trail starts at a large parking lot before the switch-back up the pass. There are picnic tables and fire pits available. Like Reed Lakes, this trail is flat and mostly easy until the end, which climbs up a steep glacier-rimmed valley to the Gold Mint Hut, which is available for camping. After the first three or four miles, the trail itself can be muddy, so plan ahead. This longer hike totals 13.4 miles and follows the Little Susitna River for much of it.
Great for kids, the Independence Mine Trail is just half a mile long and winds its way through the relics and artifacts from the gold mining days. Park at the Independence Mine parking lot and head out - the elevation gain is minimal and you have great views of the Talkeetna Mountains and the lower valleys. Here is a map of the historical park. In the winter, this is a popular skiing and snowshoeing area.
The Government Peak Recreation Area is located at the base of Hatcher Pass, on North Mountain Trails Drive, and features winter and summer trails that connect. The Government Peak Chalet is open for gear rental. The winter trails include 4.5 miles that have lighting and is a series of loops. They are also popular for fat tire bikers in the summer and winter as well. In the summer, it's a popular destination for mountain bikers, walkers and other non-motorized uses.