Talkeetna Mountains: Independence Pass-Bomber Pass

Glaciers, high passes, and pristine tundra highlight this intermediate hike.
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Glaciers, high passes, and pristine tundra highlight this intermediate hike.

Don't have 2 weeks of vacation, cash for a bush flight, or advanced skills for a remote expedition? Just an hour from Anchorage, The Talkeetnas are your answer. The range is full of pointy summits that call to mind the Wind Rivers or Sierra on steroids, plus endless soaring passes and a wealth of glaciers.
This 5-day, 21-mile sampler is an excellent intro to the route-finding and terrain challenges of Alaskan trekking, but it also offers numerous opportunities for more advanced hikers to explore utterly deserted backcountry. The route hits a little bit of everything by looping through the southwest corner of the Talkeetnas in the Hatcher Pass Management Area, land loosely administered by Alaska State Parks. While the trailheads can be bustling on weekends, you'll quickly escape the crowds.

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 34.2

Waypoints

TAL001

Location: 61.7917518615723, -149.282089233398

Begin at Independence Mine State Park, hiking through a mile of gold-rush ruins to the steep snow- and-boulder climb over Independence Gap.

TAL002

Location: 61.8083343505859, -149.30061340332

Independence Pass; a steep notch in the ridgeline begins the route

TAL003

Location: 61.8134002685547, -149.306259155273

Small backcountry tarn on R

TAL004

Location: 61.8188171386719, -149.304306030273

Head NE on tundra

TAL005

Location: 61.8413314819336, -149.287017822266

Dogsled Pass then drop into the broad alpine valley of Peters Creek

TAL006

Location: 61.8442649841309, -149.28596496582

Good campsite with water

TAL007

Location: 61.8588485717774, -149.287567138672

Cross Peters Creek; slow climb ahead past a series of alpine ponds

TAL008

Location: 61.8810653686524, -149.250717163086

Cross a rugged, unnamed pass

TAL009

Location: 61.8777847290039, -149.226684570312

Continue E over second unnamed pass. Wind through cliff bands with superb views of Montana Peak and the Mint Spires, to the blueberry fields of Bartholf Creek.

TAL010

Location: 61.8770332336426, -149.22102355957

Beautiful campsite

TAL011

Location: 61.8786506652832, -149.186370849609

Carefully cross Bartholf Creek

TAL012

Location: 61.8793182373047, -149.135330200195

From here, climb S up the Bombler Glacier (crampons helpful on the rock-hard ice).

TAL013

Location: 61.8583984375, -149.119720458984

Pass the remains of a giant B-29 Superfortress that crashed in 1957. Swing W.

TAL014

Location: 61.8547172546387, -149.1337890625

Cross the sketchy dirt scramble atop Bomber Pass and drop steeply SW down talus to Reed Lakes, a popular dayhike with Matanuska locals.

TAL015

Location: 61.8479843139648, -149.157638549805

Good campsite @ upper Reed Lake

TAL016

Location: 61.8226165771484, -149.187423706055

Good trail leads to dirt road.

TAL017

Location: 61.8044166564941, -149.202499389648

End hike: Pick-up shuttle car or hitchhike 6.2 miles back to Independence Mine.