Hiking Craigie Creek to Dogsled Pass
By Diane Rose
Craigie Creek Trail to Dogsled Pass: This trail is lesser known than the ones on the Palmer side of Hatcher Pass. In the summer of 2014, my husband, David, and I were preparing for a hike across the Grand Canyon so we were doing as many short and long hikes as we could during our short summer, and this was a new one for us. The first three miles of this hike are on an old mining road and the views across the valley where Craigie Creek runs through are beautiful on a summer day. There are deep clear pools behind beaver dams, wildflowers of all colors, and views all the way down toward Willow. The trail then steepens some, narrows, and passes a dilapidated miner’s cabin on its way to Dogsled Pass, which is about four and a half miles from the trailhead.
There were lots of birds in the brush and, my favorites—arctic ground squirrels—playing everywhere. An occasional marmot would pop out on a rock to check out its visitors and often sound a high-pitched whistle to warn others of our arrival. Even though it is not a hard climb, the pass is a welcome place for a rest. Schroff Lake, a small glacial tarn, is just to the right of the pass and the view beyond our stopping point was intriguing. There are several other routes one could take from (or to) Dogsled Pass that sound like good adventures I hope to try one day. We explored around the lake and had our lunch. Before heading back, we stopped to peek inside the cabin and tried to imagine life here in this place, looking for gold 80 years or so earlier. The sun and clouds were trading places as we took our time returning to the car.
Directions to Trailhead: On the Hatcher Pass Road driving toward Independence Mine, take a left on the Willow Creek Road toward Summit Lake. Past Summit Lake after the road starts to descend make sure to stay left at the first “Y” in the road and continue on Willow Creek Road until the first right which is the trailhead. Depending on road conditions and your vehicle it is possible to drive farther along the old mining road.
Always remember to be prepared for all types of weather when hiking in Southcentral Alaska. Check the forecast, bring rain gear, plenty of water and/or a water filter, bear spray and GPS or personal locator beacon.
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