Crow Pass Trail: Waterfalls, Mines, and Glaciers

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Northern Wheatear, Lucas DeCicco

Trip 11.  Crow Pass Trail: Waterfalls, Mines, and Glaciers

Date:  Monday, 24 June

Start and end times: Noon–7:00 pm

Cost: AOS registration fee is $35 per person. Covers van, gas, and park entrance fee.

Maximum participants: 14

Meals: None provided; bring snacks.

Trip Leader(s): Ben Sullender (possible?)

Trip Description: This trail is widely regarded as one of the best hikes in south-central Alaska. Although the full Crow Pass Trail is 21 miles long and is typically done as an overnight, 2-day backpacking trip, this half-day field trip will access most of the top sights and highlights of this beautiful area. We’ll drive south from Anchorage to the town of Girdwood and make our way up through temperate rainforest along the Crow Pass Road. From the parking lot, we will set out on foot through alder shrubs and berry bushes before breaking into the alpine. This steep but well-built trail winds alongside rocky mountain slopes, past waterfalls, and through mine ruins from the early 1900s. The fast-moving stream in the valley floor provides great habitat for American Dippers. We’ll aim for Crystal Lake, about 3.5 miles from the trailhead, and, if time permits, we may continue up to Crow Pass itself, about a half mile further. Expect views of sprawling glaciers, thundering waterfalls, and towering mountains. In addition to the birds listed below, we’ll have a decent chance of spotting mountain goats and marmots. In total, expect about 7 to 9 miles of hiking with substantial elevation gain (~2,000’). Be prepared for a strenuous uphill at the beginning.

Likely species: Spruce Grouse, Willow Ptarmigan, Alder Flycatcher, Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped Chickadee, Varied Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, American Pipit, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch, Common Redpoll, Fox Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler.

Recommended Gear and Cautions: Hiking boots or trail-running shoes. Weather in Crow Pass is highly variable and can switch quickly between brilliant sunshine and chilly fog. Bring a good rain jacket, gloves, warm hat, warm layers, and mosquito repellent. Bring food and water. Look out for bears, especially alongside the creek towards the beginning of the hike.

Additional Information:

https://alaskahikesearch.com/hikes/crow-pass/

http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/crowpasstrailguide.pdf

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