Gold Bullion Mine Hike
Amazing view of Denali from Hatcher Pass
By Diane Rose
Note: The Gold Bullion Mine and most of Upper Willow Creek are private property. There is active hardrock mining with heavy equipment and explosives that could create rockfall without notice. Please respect the private property, do not trespass and obey all posted signs. For your own safety keep away from all equipment and active workings.
Upper Willow Creek Trail to Gold Bullion Mine: This route is a pretty good workout but the views from the top are stunning and worth taking the time for a long respite. Several years ago David and I, along with our terrier, Piper, set out for the ridge where the old Gold Bullion cabin is. I had been there previously with other friends and wanted to share it with my husband. The first mile is along a narrow mining road, much like Craigie Creek Trail. Then to meet up with the Gold Bullion Trail we had to strike out to the east across the green rock-strewn valley to a series of switchbacks built by a bulldozer many years ago to get supplies to the mine. This is a steep incline and switchbacks are welcome here!
When the ridge is reached, it feels as if you are on the spine of a dragon in many places as it is narrow and rocky. We could look down the back side to the entire Craigie Creek Valley and all the way to the Summit Lake Recreation Area in front of us and many other mountain ridges near and far all around. We explored the small cabin which was in bad shape. It appeared as though it was the top terminus for the cable tram system as heavy cables are still strung from the building and disappear down the hillside below. This is an enjoyable day trip, but camping along the creek is possible.
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 take a right at the first “Y.” Depending on road conditions and your vehicle it is possible to drive farther along the old mining road that runs parallel to the Upper Willow Creek, but you’ll eventually need to park in any of the small pullouts along the road. Where the road veers to the right is approximately where you need to cut left across the tundra in order to run into the switchback.