On our final full day in Alaska, we selected the Crow Creek trail. This was my first time on the trail but we received excellent advice from Jimmy Stokes, an amazing hotel staff member at the Alyeska Hotel in Girdwood. Jimmy saw us hiking and suggested Crow Creek. He gave us a map and great advice for the challenging hike. Like all things Jimmy, we soon discovered that he was right on the money with distances and other details. Alyeska is a terrific hotel that celebrates everything Alaska to its great food and outdoor adventures. Jimmy is an example of how the staff go the extra mile for every guest. This trail was a highlight of the trip.
The drive to the trailhead can be concerning. The gravel road goes on forever, it seems. It also becomes quite narrow with sharp cliffs on one side. However, if you stay until the very end, you hit the trailhead off of the Eagle River. This runs along the historic Iditarod Trail. The elevation gain is roughly the same as the North Face (maybe a tad more) but it is longer so the gain in altitude is more stretched out. It is ranked as a “hard” or “strenuous” hike because it is a steady climb. If you do not like heights, you might not like this hike. You end up on high cliffs with a small path of crushed rock from the gold mining in the area. Much of the hike is over these thick piles of rock shards that were dumped down the mountain. It makes for rough hiking at points and good hiking boots are an advantage.
We did close to ten miles to reach the glacier at the top of the mountains. We passed gorgeous alpine lakes, waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, including mountain goats and a black bear. At the top of a long climb is a curious sight: a small cabin that you can rent out for $75 a night. It takes a year in advance sometimes to book it. Others make the climb and just bring tents. You can see discarded gold mining equipment along the way.
We made the glacier but then made a quick exit due to approaching rain, We did not want to cross the rivers or hike on the cliffs in the rain. When we made it back we were exhausted but euphoric. I recommend the hike though it is a serious climb. On the top of the mountain, you will see the full majestic of Alaska.