Arrigetch Peaks Backpack/Basecamp

Distance

22 miles

Difficulty

Difficult

Why Choose this Trip?

Camp beneath the iconic Arrigetch Peaks - a great destination for backpackers and hardcore climbers alike.

Trip Type

Backpacking

Region

Northern Alaska

The Route

From Circle lake make your way northwest towards Arrigetch Creek. Note, it is possible to land at a gravel airstrip further up the Alatna River. If you land there, you will be hiking down the Alatna to come to the confluence with Arrigetch Creek. Stay low near the creek to look for a social/animal trail that follows the waterway. Using this trail will greatly minimize the amount of bushwhacking you will endure on your approach. It is roughly ten to twelve miles from Circle Lake to the Arrigetch Valley.

There is very limited camping between the lake and the upper valley - be sure that you are ready for a long(ish) day. Expect wet feet and some tussocks. Once you’ve found the game trail, route finding is simple - continue up the creek until you are in the alpine.

Once in the alpine zone of the Arrigetch peaks, looks for a hard durable surface to camp on and explore to your heart’s content. You may want to move camp from Arrigetch Creek valley to the Aquarius Valley or Aiyagomahala Valley, or you may want to simply have one basecamp location and explore from there!

At the end of your exploration, exit the way you came to Circle Lake for your pick-up.

Distance

22 miles minimum - 12 miles one-way from the float plane drop off to the Arrigetch Valley. Once in the valley, there are many options for day hikes or even climbs, if rock climbing is your objective.

Number of Days

6+. You may want to give yourself two days to travel from Circle Lake to the valleys beneath the Arrigetch Peaks. This approach can be done in one long day. Once you’ve established a camp beneath the Arrigetch, leave at least a couple of days to explore your surroundings. Again, depending on your pack weight and hiking speed, you may want to give yourself two days to return to Circle Lake.

Backcountry Starting Point

Circle Lake, Gates of the Arctic National Park

Backcountry Ending Point

Circle Lake, Gates of the Arctic National Park

Trip Logistics: Complex

  1. Fairbanks to Bettles
  2. Bettles to Circle Lake
  3. Circle Lake to Bettles
  4. Bettles to Fairbanks

Experience Level Necessary

Intermediate

Expected Hazards

Bear country, stream crossings

Other Advice

The Arrigetch have become increasingly popular for climbers and backpackers. Take care to camp on hard durable surfaces to limit your impact. If you’re headed into the area to climb or plan to basecamp, consider packing out your human waste. And keep an eye out for bears. They have become accustomed to people in the area and are not shy about investigating interesting sights and smells - as always store all food in a bear resistant container.

Will you see other people in the backcountry?

Possibly. The Arrigetch Peaks are a popular climbing destination - you may see climbers and alpinists trying their luck at some of the valley’s granite climbing routes. Most parties approach and exit the Arrigetch Peaks via Arrigetch Creek, so it is possible that you may pass other parties since most visitors are funneled through one access point.

Land Manager

Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve

GPS Coordinates

Starting Point: 67.48528, -153.87398

Ending Point: 67.48528, -153.87398

USGS Maps

Survey Pass B-2

Survey Pass B-3

Cost

$$$$

Getting There

Coordinates
Latitude: 67.48528
Longitude: -153.87398