Destination Alaska: Devil's Pass

Easy routefinding and life-list sights make this thru-hike a must for Alaska novices.

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With the massive Kenai Range and rugged Gilpatrick Mountain as backdrops, your photos will make this trek (all on well-maintained trails) look a lot harder than it is. Sample the best of the area on this 20.7-mile near-loop (no extra car needed; the 4.5-mile road shuttle on the Seward Highway is easy to hike or hitch). But don’t mistake trails for crowds: The open tundra country above treeline makes solitude guaranteed for those who seek it—just head cross-country 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 the Devil’s Pass USFS cabin ($35/night,; book up to 180 days in advance). Just southeast of the cabin, take the fork signed “Hope” (Trail #17) and follow it, then Trail #48, over Resurrection Pass. After the pass, a small pond southeast of the trail at mile 13 makes an excellent, isolated campsite. Schedule an extra night here or at another pond, at the head of Colorado Creek, to give the sweeping Kenai Mountains their due. Next, drop steeply down to East Creek, and climb this moderate trail east to your last pass, at mile 16.8, a narrow gap set amid rocky cliffs.

Then descend into Summit Creek drainage. To finish, head four miles down the Summit Creek Trail—steep and overgrown with chest-high grass down low. End at milepost 35 on the Seward Highway.

The Way The Devil’s Pass trailhead is at milepost 39.5 on the Seward Highway, 87 miles south of Anchorage.