Chugach National Forest, AK: Devil's Pass

Easy routefinding and life-list sights make this hike from Devils Creek to Summit Creek a must for Alaska novices.
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Easy routefinding and life-list sights make this hike from Devils Creek to Summit Creek a must for Alaska novices.

With the massive Kenai Range and rugged Gilpatrick Mountain as backdrops, your photos will make this trek (mostly on trails) look a lot harder than it is. Sample the best of the area on this 20.7-mile point-to-point (no extra car needed; the 4.5-mile road shuttle on the Seward Highway is easy to hike or hitch). And don’t mistake trails for crowds: The open tundra country above treeline makes solitude guaranteed for those who seek it--just head cross-country almost anywhere between Devil’s Pass and Summit Creek, and find your own private Alaska.

Begin by climbing 8.2 miles and 1,300 vertical feet on Trail #5 to wide-open Devil’s Pass. Continue 1.5 miles to a junction and the Devil’s Pass Forest Service cabin, ($35/night, recreation.gov; book up to 180 days in advance). Just southeast of the cabin, take the fork signed “Hope” (Trail #17) and follow it 1.75 miles, to an old trail that forks east just short of Resurrection Pass. Look up to the east and you’ll see Trail #48 (officially an unmaintained route, but in fine condition) switchbacking up to ridgeline. On the ascent, avoid beaver pond swamps by rounding their northern end. After the pass, a small pond just southeast of the trail at mile 13 makes an excellent, isolated campsite. Schedule an extra night here, or at another tundra pond at the head of Colorado Creek, just north of the Summit Creek Pass, for a three-day adventure.

Beyond the pond, drop steeply down to East Creek, passing another lake (too swampy for good camping). Climb gradual trail east to your last pass, at mile 16.8, a narrow gap set amid rocky cliffs, and descend into Summit Creek drainage. Extended backpacking option: The ridgeline north from this pass is also the junction for a three- or four-day off-trail trek northward, through the headwaters of Colorado, Fox, Fresno, and Pass Creeks, to the town of Hope. To finish the shorter alternative, head four miles down the Summit Creek Trail--steep, and overgrown with shoulder-high grass down low. End at a trailhead near milepost 35 on the Seward Highway.

--mapped by Steve Howe

MORE INFO: Alaska Public Lands Information Center, (907) 644-3661; nps.gov/aplic/center

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 33.3

Waypoints

WPT001

Location: 60.55914, -149.581521

Devil's Pass trailhead

WPT002

Location: 60.555042, -149.59441

Bridge

WPT003

Location: 60.55248, -149.628781

Campsite with bear box

WPT004

Location: 60.571441, -149.680767

Near mile 5.1 is another campsite with bear box

WPT005

Location: 60.604837, -149.717091

Bridge at mile 8

WPT006

Location: 60.608251, -149.718722

Devils Pass Summit

WPT007

Location: 60.620349, -149.750712

Junction with Resurrection Pass Trail

WPT008

Location: 60.621512, -149.752193

Devil's Pass Cabin ($35/night. www.reserve.gov.)

WPT009

Location: 60.630105, -149.722641

Old trailbed veers to right

WPT010

Location: 60.63895, -149.721801

Junction to Summit Creek Trail (APPROXIMATE)

WPT011

Location: 60.632465, -149.711083

Author's route intersects with trailbed

WPT012

Location: 60.632666, -149.700578

Unnamed Pass at mile 12.3

WPT013

Location: 60.633263, -149.685436

Excellent campsite beside unnamed lake

WPT014

Location: 60.640127, -149.670165

Large lake: Muddy shores and swampy ground makes for poor camping. Move on.

WPT015

Location: 60.621798, -149.625171

Scenic pass into Summit Creek. Good campsites on ledges between small cliff bands; water available from tarns.

WPT016

Location: 60.616743, -149.531152

Trail register

WPT017

Location: 60.617023, -149.530501

The end: Summit Creek trailhead parking lot.

Unnamed pass

Location: 60.632122, -149.703827

Campsite view

Location: 60.633553, -149.688549

Fields of purple

Location: 60.597082, -149.7155

More wildflowers

Location: 60.554916, -149.654388

Wild raspberries

Location: 60.553228, -149.649582

Green mountain views

Location: 60.561666, -149.674988

Mountain bikers

Location: 60.608879, -149.71962

Devil’s Pass Forest Service cabin

Location: 60.621008, -149.750519