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Backpacker Magazine – January 2011

Rip & Go: Crow Pass Trail - Chugach State Park, AK

Cross the west edge of the Chugach for glaciers, bears, and wildflowers.

by: Kristy Holland

Raven Glacier near Crow Pass (Hage Photo)
Raven Glacier near Crow Pass (Hage Photo)
Patagonia Simple Guide Pants (Courtesy Photo)
Patagonia Simple Guide Pants (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Gina Spangler (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Gina Spangler (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Laura Kruger (Courtesy Photo)
Reader Expert Laura Kruger (Courtesy Photo)

Download a printable version of this entire trip right here.

Do it

Gold drew prospectors here at the turn of the 20th century. Now it’s the easy-access trailheads and instant big-mountain views. This point-to-point trek follows the Crow Pass Trail for 22.6 miles as it cuts across the Chugach Mountains, passing glaciers, meadows speckled with bluebells and larkspur, and prime Dall sheep, moose, bear, and wolf habitat. “There’s never a dull moment on this trail,” says Gina Spangler (next page). Drop a car at Eagle River Nature Center before driving to the Crow Creek trailhead (1). Begin with a steady ascent north past thick, low-lying alder and views of the Crow Mine’s rusty ruins. The climb steepens at mile one (2), gaining 700 feet in .4 mile before descending north to a plaque (3) dedicated to Harry Ingle Staser, owner of the Monarch Mine from 1926-1940. Next, skirt turquoise Crystal Lake, pass an A-frame Forest Service cabin, and crest 3,883-foot Crow Pass (4), marked by big-screen views of Raven Glacier to the east. Finish the first day by descending wildflower fields (with Jacob’s ladder and alpine forget-me-nots in June and July) into the lush Raven Creek valley; camp at sites (5) tucked into the willows.

Day two starts with a shallow crossing of Raven Creek (6), followed by a two-mile descent to a wooden bridge over Raven Gorge (7), a waterfall-carved chasm. Look out for moose, bear, and caribou grazing in trailside willows. “There’s enough foot-traffic here that they aren’t spooked by hikers like they are in more remote areas,” says Spangler. At mile 9.9 (8), the Eagle Glacier hangs above the valley as the trail rounds southeast, dropping sharply toward the hike’s crux—a wet, sometimes difficult crossing of the glacier-fed Eagle River (9) (cairns mark the easiest route across the knee- to thigh-deep water). From here, cross a gushing stream on logs at mile 12.3 (10), then two more footbridges at miles 14.5 (11) and 17 (12). Follow a stretch of the Iditarod Trail (yes, that Iditarod) before ending at the Eagle River Nature Center (13).

Trip Planner

From Anchorage, drive 12 miles north on AK 1 to the Eagle River Loop exit. Turn right on Eagle River Rd. in 2.5 miles. Go 10.9 miles to the Eagle River Nature Center.

Drive south on AK 1 to Girdwood. Turn left on Alyeska Hwy. Bear left at Crow Creek Hwy. in 1.9 miles. Bear right at junction in five miles. Park in .9 mile.

USGS: Anchorage A-6, Anchorage A-7 ($8 each,

Gear Up
Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking; (907) 272-1811;

(907) 269-8400;

Trip ID 393658

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