This spectacular backcountry route connects the Lost and Trail Creek drainages via a 6000’ pass. Explore these trails as day hikes from Nabesna Road or as one big loop in either direction over 3 to 4 days. Trail Creek and Lost Creek were used by generations of Ahtna people, who hunted moose and trapped gophers and porcupine. In the 1930s a few cabins were built at Lost Creek and the Ahtna residents made a living hunting, fishing and selling food and wood to Nabesna mine. These creeks, along with Chalk Creek, are part of the Jack Creek drainage. Jack Creek is called Desuun’ Na’, or “good area creek,” which refers to the abundance of natural resources found here.
Access: Trail Creek flows across the road at Mile 29.8. Lost Creek crosses the road at Mile 29.8.
Hazards: On warm summer days, the creek may be low in the early morning but can rise several feet during the day. An easy morning ford may be impassable by the late afternoon. Also, the creek level can rise suddenly during and after rain storms. The lower 5-6 miles of each creek are very rocky and can be a test of ankles & feet. Be prepared for areas of scrambling on scree slopes. Bears are present in this area.
Route: The route climbs from a beginning of 3000’ and reaches the pass in ten miles. This is primarily a trail-less route over tundra and along gravel bars. The upper mileage of each creek involves some route-finding around canyon obstacles, and keeping track of your location on a map to follow the correct drainages to the pass separating the two creeks.
The lower sections of each drainage follow rocky braided streambeds, and require multiple crossings. Prepare to get your feet wet. Creek levels vary considerably depending on snowmelt and any recent rainfall. Good camp spots are easy to find in both drainages. There are a multitude of possible explorations among the ridges and alpine valleys near the pass.
Route description: Trail Creek to Lost Creek
The first four miles of Trail Creek Trail follow the meandering creekbed. Most hikers will find it necessary to cross several times. A sometimes-elusive OTV trail parallels the creek to climb over neighboring hills and along the vegetated benches. By staying to the east of the stream channel you may be able stay out of the creek most of the way.
After four miles, you reach the mouth of Trail Creek Canyon. After two more miles, the canyon narrows considerably and a sign indicates the end of the OTV trail. The creek is confined by low gravel benches covered with a carpet of alpine vegetation. There are many nice camp spots above the eastern side of the creek.
The route follows the first major side canyon (the fourth drainage on the eastern side of the canyon). For the next three miles, ascend towards the pass. Some hikers may generally follow the gravel river bed, but hiking along the high ground through the lush tundra provides spectacular panoramic views, marmot sightings, and wildflowers. Look carefully among the canyon walls for flocks of Dall sheep.
he upper reaches of both Trail and Lost Creek are very scenic and provide views of rugged Noyes Mountain, rock glaciers, and hardy alpine plants. There are nice camping spots in both upper basins, especially Lost Creek. Head up and cross over the pass by following the established sheep trails along the northern side walls.
From the top of the pass there are fantastic views down Lost Creek drainage. You can choose to descend directly along the rocky stream drainage, but for easy walking and better views, follow the grassy tundra-covered ridge right down the middle of the valley. There are nice campsites to be found along this lush ridge, and a good chance of spotting sheep. Follow this ridge for one mile and descend directly down the vegetated hill between the first two forks to the creek bottom.
Once in the creek bottom, depending upon stream conditions, you may have to cross or head up and over obstacles. In early summer, snow and ice bridges may be present to assist you as you make your way downstream for 1.5 miles. Eventually, the canyon narrows to a gorge and it becomes impossible to pass through. Head up 300’ along the west side to a 1.5 mile long series of vegetated benches above the canyon. One steep ravine cuts through the bench, but it is passable a little higher up. Once you pass the canyon gorge, gradually descend back to the gravel banks of Lost Creek.