But what’s a weeklong hike?
Hiking trips in Alaska are a little bit different to hiking elsewhere. Alaska itself is a little bit different.
It’s bigger. Wilder. Harder.
Hiking in Alaska is harder than what you’re used to. Most correctly, I’d suggest that hiking in Alaska is substantially harder than what you’re used to.
That is the ultimate caveat to this question. What are the best weeklong hikes in Alaska?
Well, best for who? My buddy Todd did a weeklong hike last year in the Alaska Range and he covered 185 miles. So a weeklong hike for a ridiculously fit, ultra light speed freak is probably not going to be the best weeklong hike for you. Or for me.
We’ll look at 5 days hiking time. There’s every possibility you’re going to need at least a day travel either side of the hike getting to and from your AK destination to your trail head. And if your hiking trip involves a bush flight, or two, that could easily be more.
So here are a few of the best hikes or hiking areas for a week long hiking trip in Alaska.
Multi-day hiking trips
The Goat Trail – Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Resurrection Pass – Chugach National Forest.
Chilkoot Trail – Klondike National Park.
My next hike – Who knows.
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
The Goat Trail is one of my favorite hikes in Alaska. It’s hard, but not terribly hard. It’s perfectly possible for a decent hiker who knows the route to hike point to point in 2-3 days, but why? Take your time and look for the nooks and crannies along the way. You’ll be glad you did. There’s a lot to explore here. Do you know how many people I know of who’ve even hiked on the east side of Skolai Pass? 3.
Don’t get caught by the “point a to Point B approach.
The Goat Trail is a good example of why a week long hiking trip in Alaska might not be such a simple planning procedure. You’ll start hiking at Skolai pass, which is a 30 minute backcountry flight from McCarthy, which is a 7-8 hour drive from Anchorage. So it’s not a simple “grab your pack and start hiking” trip.
But it’s worth it. Go out on a limb. That’s where the best fruit always is.
Denali National Park
Denali is a fun place to hike but the logistical difficulties you’ll encounter kinda take the fun out of it, for me. It’s impossible to plan ahead and do much pre-trip planning because you don’t know what options are available before you leave home. That can be a hassle for many folks.
Still, make do with what you can. Arrive at the park having done your homework and have a few options in mind. I would recommend at least 3 backup plans.
Be prepared for river crossings. It’s very likely you’ll be fording a river (so read up on how to ford a river).
To find the Wyoming Hills, look for Unit 37/38. Leave the road and head north. Wrap your way west toward Mt. Galen or head east over to the Toklat. Both are great options. This is my favorite area on the entire north side of Denali National Park. Just be patient with the reservation system at the park. It too will eat up some time.
The Chilkoot Trail is a bit tight as well, with the reservation system, but most folks from the Lower 48 are so used to that it probably will not be as problematic for you as it is for me. Depart out of Skagway, hiking up over the Klondike Pass into Canada, and catch the train back.
Weather is always dodgy in Alaska, and particularly so along the coast. Bring rain gear, bug gear, and hope for the best.
Chugach National Forest
Resurrection Pass is nice because the trail system is more the kind of thing you’re likely used to. It’s road accessible and doesn’t require reservations.
It also means you’ll probably see more people. Mountain bikers and horse packers as well. But it’s a nice hike that climbs gradually, so isn’t terribly challenging. Bring your fly rod (be sure to acquire an Alaska fishing license).
My favorite weeklong hiking trip in Alaska?
My next one. And right now I’m not sure where that’s gunna be.