Copper River Highway (Cordova to Bridge)
The 49.5 mile Copper River Highway leads from the town of Cordova to the Million Dollar Bridge. The Million Dollar Bridge was once used by the railroad to haul copper from Kennicott to the port of Cordova, and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2000. Aside from the bridge, there are several highlights along this fairly short highway, such as great trails and scenic lookout points.
NOTE: The Copper River Highway is currently closed beyond mile 36, where there is a failed bridge. As of this time, the road does not go beyond that point.
Cordova is known in to the locals as Alaska’s hidden treasure. It’s a small, hard-working fishing community with a population of about 2,270. Located near the mount of the Copper River, it nestles peacefully at the head of Orca Inlet in Prince William sound and has a mystique all its own. In the area are glacier-carved mountains, wildlife-rich wetlands, lush forests, and countless waterways that host many exciting activities such as skiing,… ...more
In part 2, we will look at the proposed changes and restoration to various locations around Eyak Lake. The project includes replacing many inefficient culverts with fish friendly access culverts for spawning salmon and a short bridge segment near Mavis Island to improve sediment and turbidity formation along the shore where salmon spawn. Signs of lake erosion and habitat destruction can be seen when driving along Power Creek Road and the… ...more
The 3.3‑mile long trail is mostly boardwalk over muskeg. This is an excellent spot to bird-watch, look for waterfowl feeding on Eyak Lake. Trumpeter swans frequent this lake. Most fly south for the winter however, up to 100 swans will winter here in this ice-free lake.
Sundews are amazing carnivorous plants that live in poor soil conditions and catch insects in an ingenious way to supplement their needs for nitrogen and other nutrients that the surrounding soil lacks. Hiking in areas where the ground is wet and spongy or boggy, you will likely find the tiny carnivorous plants waiting for their next insect meal. Look for a small plant growing close to the ground with bright red leaves the size of a pencil… ...more
Fall time is beautiful anywhere in Alaska, but the changes in the area around Cordova and the Copper River Delta are truly breathtaking. Learn about the insect activity that takes place in this season with a detailed look at insect mimicry and a harmless bee look-alike called the flower fly. These insects are usually found in the autumn in areas with flowering plants including people’s gardens and yards and where ever flowers abound like… ...more
Watch for wildlife in this aquatic area, look for the beaver lodge. Beavers are common on most lakes and marshes all over Alaska. If you look closely enough, you’ll see lodges, dams and canals on many of the waterways along the highway. If you’re lucky, a beaver may even be swimming nearby.
An access road leads to the terminus of Sheridan Glacier and the trailhead for Sheridan Mountain USFS trail. The trail is a difficult 2.9‑mile hike. The glacier was named for the Civil War General Philip Sheridan. There is an easy walking trail to a spectacular view of the glacier.
This ski trail weaves through muskeg and forest and gradually gains elevation until it ends. The trail leads to a high muskeg that overlooks the Copper River Delta, Heney Range and the Gulf of Alaska. This trail is very wet during all seasons excluding winter and is not a hiking trail.
This is an easy 2.4‑mile hike with excellent fishing for sockeye, Dolly Varden and cutthroat. You’ll find access to McKinley Trail and McKinley Lake public use cabins. It is a well-maintained trail that has several bridges for easy stream crossings and interpretive signs to explain the trail’s history.
While on the highway look for the McKinley Lake Cabin sign and trailhead. From the trailhead, a 2 1⁄2 mile hike will take you to the Forest Service public cabin. Sockeye salmon viewing opportunities exist here and at the location another 75 yards past the cabin. Salmon viewing at this location is from mid July to mid August with best viewing in late July or early August.
Look for the channel to a beaver pond. The channel provides access to the pond for silver salmon fry and can support up to 25,400 young salmon. The fallen trees and brush provide cover from predators. Here you will also find access to Saddlebag Glacier USFA Trail, a 3‑mile trail to Saddlebag Lake, this is the best trail for mountain biking in the district.
This is the main flow of Copper River, known for its wild salmon runs; in fact this is one of the most prized stocks of salmon in the world. Watch for harbor seals as they follow the salmon runs up the Copper River as far as Childs Glacier. You’ll see them bobbing along the river or resting on ice flows.
This very active glacier forms a wall along the fabled Copper River near a historic railroad route that once serviced the world’s largest copper mine. NOTE: A bridge at Mile 36 of the Copper River Highway is currently (2020) impassable, with repairs not expected for several years. Child’s Glacier is not currently accessible by road. Contact Cordova Ranger District for current venders providing transportation options to the far side. ...more