- Stunning scenery
- High ridge walks
- Historic gold mining ruins.
Travel in the wild back country of Alaska with the security of experienced guides. WFR First Aid Certified - Group gear provided - Back country gourmet meals - Perfect safety record.
If the opportunity to experience truly remote and rugged wilderness is why you want to visit Alaska, then this trip in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is a great choice. We trek for seven days through country that is seldom visited by hikers, at least two legged ones. The route begins in the deep back country of Wrangell-St. Elias on banks of remote Canyon Creek. We then spend 7 days covering terrain that ranges from mountain streams to high ridges with stunning views to meadows filled with wildflowers.
This trip varies from moderate to strenuous with days that alternate between easier, shorter days to more strenuous and challenging ones. So it’s a good trek if you want some challenge but want some time to recoup between the harder days. Because it takes a good part of the day to ferry the whole crew into Canyon Creek in a Super Cub, we only do a half day of hiking on the first day. That gives us a chance to find our trekking legs, and we’ll need them for the hike up our first challenge, a windy ridge crest high above Canyon Creek. But the hard work will be worth the effort when we top out and take in the stunning, 360 degree views including the impressive and close by University Range. We also get our first view of Pyramid Peak
The route travels up and over two passes and traverses around the base of Pyramid Peak. We stop for a layover day at the base of Pyramid to recharge and enjoy the impressive summits. Those with energy to spare can join the guide for a day hike to get up closer to Pyramid, or feel free to lounge around camp and rest up a bit.
From there we head up and over our final ridge which forms the shoulder of Andrus Peak. It’s a hump to get there but eye-popping views greet us at the top. On the home stretch now, we drop down to Rex Creek and leave the high country behind. On the last day of our trek we pass through the ruins of Chititu Camp - once a thriving little outpost during its gold mining heyday but now in the process of being reclaimed by the wilderness. And finally we hike out to May Creek for our pickup and short flight back to McCarthy.
The Adventure at a Glance:
- 1 night in Anchorage, Alaska
- 2 nights in McCarthy, Alaska
- 7 days/6 nights trekking in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
- Days of trip total: 10 days, Anchorage to Anchorage
- Group Size: 4 to 6 participants - cost is higher for groups under 4 people
- Difficulty level: Moderate/Strenuous
- Style of trek: In McCarthy we will be staying in a 3-star hotel. The wilderness trek will be 7 days of backpacking over rugged terrain with no trails. Participants will carry all of their personal gear as well as a share of group gear and food. This is a strenuous backpacking adventure and good conditioning is required.
- Detailed Itinerary: The Pyramid Peak Route. There is a great deal of variation in the type of terrain that we will travel through, so rather than list mileage for each day, we have listed the amount of time we usually hike for each day of this trek.
Day 1: Arrive in Anchorage, Alaska. Arrive in Anchorage and make taxi arrangements to your hotel or B&B.
Day 2: Van transportation from Anchorage to McCarthy. Overnight McCarthy, Hotel. You will be picked up at your lodging in Anchorage for the van ride to McCarthy. It will take about 8 hours for the drive but you won’t get bored. The route passes through some stunning country in the Matanuska valley. When you see Mt. Drum looming straight ahead, then you will know we’re getting close. We arrive in McCarthy around 5 - 6:00 PM. As soon as everyone is checked into the hotel, we meet with our back country guide at their headquarters. The guide does a gear shakedown to make sure everyone has what the need... but nothing that they don’t. We all get a plastic, bear canister chock full of tasty meals and snacks. After cramming all of our newly acquired gear into our packs, we meet up at the New Golden Saloon for some dinner, a few brews and if we’re lucky maybe a bit of local bluegrass entertainment.
Day 3: (about 4 hours hiking). Overnight Camping. We get an early start and begin our trek with a bush flight. Our begins in the remote valley on an airstrip so small we have to be ferried in one at a time in a super cub. You might want to close your eyes as we drop down into the little-used airstrip along Canyon Creek - but not to worry, our pilot is one of the best back country pilots in the area.
No sooner are we out of the plane than we face the first challenge of our trek - a turbulent stream crossing - but it's not as bad as it looks. Once safely across, we will want to get moving to warm up our chilly legs. We hike for a few hours up Canyon Creek till we get to the base of a rib that will lead us up and over a high ridge. Due to the logistics of getting into this remote spot, it's often lunchtime before we get going from the airstrip. So we start with a shorter day as the next day requires us to get up and over a ridge that would be too much for the first day. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 4: (about 6-7 hours hiking). Overnight Camping. It's a challenging day and a real hump to get up the ridge, so we take our time and take a slow but steady pace. The hike to the top is demanding but when we stand on the crest and suck up the amazing views of the University range, it's well worth the effort. This is one of the best viewpoints on the trip. Depending on how long it took us to hit the ridge, we might take a little side trip along the crest. Then it's all down hill as we cruise into a great, stream-side campsite far below. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: (about 4 hours hiking). Overnight Camping. After a demanding day crossing the ridge we're happy to follow-up with an easier one. Our day begins with a steep bit up along the side of a rock glacier, but this is a much shorter ascent than yesterday. Crossing the rock glacier requires some careful footwork but soon we are on the other side. Depending on the weather, and our energy, we might take a side trip to get a nice view of Pyramid Peak. Then it's downhill once again to set camp in the most amazing wildflower meadow filled with Monk's Hood, Lupine, Fireweed and more. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: (about 7 hours hiking). Overnight Camping. Rested up from our easier day, we once again have a full day ahead of us. But what a rewarding hike as we do a high traverse around the base of Pyramid Peak. When we hit the top of our final ridge a whole new face of Pyramid explodes into view inviting nice rest break and photos. A quick descent to the stream below brings us to a lovely lunch spot. From here it's fairly easy hiking to our camp, well except for our ascent up the Anvil. It's really steep, but really short and once up, were 20 minutes from camp. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: (3-4 hour optional day hike with day packs). Overnight Camping. After our longer day it's time for another mellower one - are you seeing a pattern here? Today we leave camp set up and take off for some exploring with light day packs. There are several routes we can check out as we get some up close looks at Pyramid Peak. We're back in camp by early to mid afternoon for a bit of loafing and rest before dinner. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: (about 8 hours hiking). Overnight Camping. You guessed it - a longer day of hiking today so we'll want an early start. We get right down to it and head up the crest of a narrow ridge that puts us on the shoulder of Andrus which looms above us. From the top we enjoy amazing views all around including one last look at Pyramid. This is the favorite viewpoint for many people. After enjoying the high views, we drop down the snowfield on the other side. Stream crossings, boulder fields and other challenges wait, but so do some interesting surprises like an old gold mine shaft that doesn't appear on the map. We make our final camp on the bank of Rex Creek. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: (about 6 hours hiking). Overnight McCarthy, Hotel. Our last day of hiking will be a fairly easy one for the most part. After a careful crossing of Rex and White Creeks, we drop our gear and explore the collapsing ruins of Chititu Camp, once an active gold mining settlement in the middle of the wilderness. Remains of cabins, barns, chicken coops and other structures wait our discovery. Next we resume our backpacking trip and travel down what remains of the old road that was once the miners access to Chititu, though it's more a trail than a road these days. We will arrive at May Creek in the early afternoon. The large strip at May Creek allows for a plane big enough to carry our entire group and all of our gear. It’s a short flight back to McCarthy and the world of hot showers. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Van transportation from McCarthy to Anchorage. We depart after breakfast for the return trip to Anchorage. We should arrive in Anchorage by 6:00 PM. You can make arrangements for a night flight out of Anchorage or stay overnight and depart the following day.
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USA Alaska Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking National Parks