Chugach

Cow Pass Trail

brochure Chugach - Cow Pass Trail

covered parks

History The first recorded crossing of Crow Pass was in 1898 by geologist Walter Mendenhall and his assistant Luther “Yellowstone” Kelly for the U.S. Army geological survey. For many years the trail saw heavy use as part of the historic Iditarod Trail, a winter dogsledding route from Seward to Knik and to the Iditarod goldfields. However, avalanches at Crow Pass were dangerous and prospectors were quick to favor the longer, but less severe Indian Pass route made by the Alaska Road Commission in 1908. After the Alaska Railroad was completed in 1923, both routes were largely abandoned. For More Information Chugach State Park Headquarters Potter Section House 18620 Seward Hwy Anchorage, AK 99516 (907) 345-5014 www.alaskastateparks.org csp@alaska.gov “Chugach State Park” on Facebook Eagle River Nature Center 32750 Eagle River Road (Mile 12) Eagle River, AK (907) 694-2108 www.ernc.org Welcome to Crow Pass Trail in Chugach State Park In 1896 prospectors struck gold in Crow Creek, which became the most productive placer gold stream in Southcentral Alaska. Monarch Mine operated from 1906 to 1948 on upper Crow Creek and was one of the most productive load gold mining ventures on the Turnagain Arm. Rusted remnants from the mining camp can still be seen off a fork of the trail about 1.25 miles from the Crow Creek Trailhead. Bruce I. Staser Family. Papers, circa 1956 UAA-HMC-0232 If you visit the ruins, please don’t take any “souvenirs”; these historical artifacts should be left in place for others to enjoy. Background photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Descending Crow Pass toward Clear Creek, Mount Yukla in background Photo courtesy of Justin Wholey Alaska State Parks Know Before You Go Welcome The Crow Pass Trail is widely considered to be one of the best hikes in Chugach State Park, as well as one of Alaska’s foremost backpacking experiences. Following the Iditarod National Historic Trail route, the trail crosses a variety of terrains and offers diverse and scenic sights along the way, including glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, gorges, sapphire tarns, and stunning alpine scenery. You don’t want to miss this one! If you’re not up for hiking the whole trail, the four-mile hike from Crow Creek Trailhead to Crow Pass is a great alpine hike with a magnificent payoff. The trail from the Eagle River Nature Center to Glacier Lake, a half-mile east of the Eagle River ford site, offers stunning valley views and is an easy, non-technical hike. Outdoor Skills Hypothermia This brochure does not tell you everything you need to know about venturing into the Chugach. Get informed, take a class, or invite an experienced friend. Tell a friend where you’re going, who you’re going with, and when you’ll return in case something unexpected happens. The alpine areas around Crow Pass are often wet, foggy, and windy. No matter how good the weather looks, bring warm, rainproof gear. Unprepared hikers are especially vulnerable to hypothermia, even in the middle of summer. Crossing Eagle River This trail involves fording Eagle River. The ford site is marked and usually safe for crossing, but it is not to be taken lightly. Make sure you bring extra footwear for the crossing. NEVER cross barefoot. Cold water can cause numbness, making it easy to injure your feet—a disaster in the backcountry. Check the depth with a walking stick before crossing. If you’re unsure, wait for the water to drop and remember that you don’t have to cross. Unbuckle your straps in case you need to ditch your pack in the event of a fall. Fires Open fires are prohibited in Chugach State Park unless in a metal fire ring provided at a designated campsite or on the gravel bars of Eagle River. Backcountry chefs should bring a portable camp stove. Wildlife The Eagle River and Raven Creek valleys are major habitats for moose and bears. Stay alert and make sure to announce your presence when hiking the trail. When camping, know the safe way to cook and store your food to avoid attracting bears. Arctic ground squirrels, marmots, Dall’s sheep, and mountain goats can also be seen along the trail. Giardia Sparkling mountain streams might look clean, but they could be contaminated by Giardia. Also known as “beaver fever,” this parasite can be carried by any mammal and found in nearly any water source—even late summer snow. Thankfully, Giardia is easy to avoid. You can purify drinking water using a pump filter, chemical treatments, or by boiling for two minutes or more. Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Photo courtesy of Andrew Kunkle Trail Description e atur ak N Rod oop L rt be Al oop L r Lo Rive This hike is moderately difficult, with some scrambling and river fording. Prepared beginners can traverse the trail over a few days, as there are plenty of places to camp. Late June through September are the best times to traverse. Eagle River Nature Center TH op ert Alb p Loo Four Corners Loop Legend M Dew d Pass Bridge Trail Chugach State Park Campsite Trailhead Stream Crossing o un Crow Mountain Meadow Access: Eagle River Nature Center or Crow Pass Trailhead in Girdwood Travel Means: Foot Distance: 23.1 miles, one way, as measured by GPS Elevation Gain: 2,100 ft. from Crow Creek Trailhead; 3,100 ft. from Eagle River Nature Center Rapids Camp Loop De w M ou nd Dew Lake From the Crow Creek Trailhead, a series of uphill switchbacks through the brush take you to an old miner’s road in an alpine area. Departing from the miner’s road, the trail traverses the side of Barnes and Jewel mountains, passes Crystal Lake, and peaks at Crow Pass at 3,550 ft. elevation. Cro wP ass Eagle River Nature Center Access: Tra il Ea gle Ri ve r After the ford site, the trail parallels Eagle River and crosses Thunder, Twin Falls, and Icicle creeks. The trail provides scenic views of Heritage Falls, then turns west, where the valley widens before reaching Echo Bend and Rapids Camp. From there, the trail departs from the river into stands of spruce, birch, hemlock, and quaking aspen and heads toward the Eagle River Nature Center. Kn ik Ar m Take the Glenn Highway to the Eagle River Loop exit at milepost 11.6. Turn right on Eagle River Road and continue to the end of the road. From Crow Pass, the trail dips into the Raven Creek Valley, skirting several rock covered slopes and crossing Raven Creek via a bridge over Raven Gorge. Descending along the hills through tall grasses and fireweed, the trail crosses Turbid Creek by footbridge and swings east into the Eagle River Valley upstream toward the ford site. Anchorage Turn a gain Chugach State Park Area of detail Arm Eagle River Crossing Crow Pass Access: From mile 90 of the Seward Highway, follow the Alyeska Highway for about two miles and then veer left onto Crow Creek Road. Drive about five miles and turn right up the hill shortly after a bridge. The trail is about a mile from here. Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Do not venture onto Raven Glacier unless properly equipped and trained to handle a crevassed glacier. Creek Crossing rivers and streams in the backcountry can be dangerous. Learn the techniques before you head out. Raven This trailhead and the first four miles of the trail are managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Glacier Lake Photo courtesy of Justin Wholey Public-Use Cabin The Crow Pass Cabin is located on the south shore of Crystal Lake, three miles from the Crow Creek Trailhead. The cabin is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and available for reservation online at www.recreation.gov. Chugach State Park Chugach National Forest Photo courtesy of Chugach National Forest Crow Pass Crystal Lake Chugach National Forest Glacier Ranger District 907-783-3242 Crow Pass TH Photo courtesy of Richard Dutile Maps: USGS Anchorage A-6 and A-7 (NE); Imus Geographics Chugach State Park Photo courtesy of Denise Dutile This map is not intended for navigational purposes

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