Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Backpacking Trip: Hidden Creek Lake to Lakina River
Distance: 10 miles
Approx. hiking time: 3-4 days
Total elevation gain: +2569, -3051
Best season: Late June - early September
Access: Bush flight - McCarthy to Hidden Creek Lake
Maps: USGS McCarthy C-6, C-7
Challenges: Snowfield at the pass, side-hilling.
3 to 4 day Alaska backpacking trip that mostly falls in the moderate range, with plenty of opportunities for side trips and scrambles up nearby peaks. Lovely lakes near the pass make for excellent camping.
Backpacking trips in Alaska's Wrangell-St. Elais National Park often require a week or more to complete. That's because suitable spots for a backcountry airstrip are few and far between. So it can be tough to find a route for a shorter point to point backpacking trip. This route is perfect for those who are wanting a shorter trip but still want to do a backpacking rather than base camping style trip.
Another advantage to the trip is that it's just a short flight from McCarthy yet feels remote. And not many people do this very accessible route. It only takes two or three days of backpacking to get to the shores of the Lakina River and your pickup site, which leaves plenty of extra time to explore the ridges and peaks that sourround you along the way. The best way to enjoy this Alaskan journey is to do it as a combination backpacking and base camping trip. - you get the best of both.
Or you might just want to take it easy and take little side trips to check out the cool waterfalls and the lakes just over the pass.
Even detailed route descriptions such as those found in the book are not a substitute for skills and experience. If you would like to do this route but don't feel that you are ready to tackle an Alaskan backpacking adventure on your own, consider a guided trek.
If you are interested in doing this route as part of a guided trek, click here for more information on the Hidden Creek Traverse in Alaska's Wrangell St. Elias National Park.