Hatcher Pass Scenic Drive

Driving north from Anchorage isn't as instantly dramatic as going south, but within an hour you're immersed in stop-and-shoot scenery. The Glenn Highway runs northeast to agricultural Palmer, and from there you can take a mountain road to scenic Hatcher Pass.

From Anchorage, it's a 3-hour road trip (roundtrip), and you can also hit Hatcher Pass on the way up to Talkeetna, Denali, and Fairbanks-which adds about two hours to the total. You'll probably want to spend more time along the way, however-here are some of our recommended stops:

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Scenic Drive Points

Season: Year Round $125+

Enjoy your own pri­vate log cab­in in the wilder­ness, with all the mod­ern con­ve­niences, just an hour north of Anchor­age and min­utes from Wasil­la and Palmer. Nes­tled at the entrance to Hatch­er Pass in the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains, your cozy log cab­in makes an ide­al base camp for all your Alaskan adventures!

At the Gov­ern­ment Peak Recre­ation area you will find an exten­sive trail sys­tem for nordic ski­ing, walk­ing, hik­ing, fat tire bik­ing, and moun­tain bik­ing. The newest addi­tion is a Chalet that is avail­able to warm win­ter vis­i­tors. It’s also avail­able for rent.

After fol­low­ing along the Lit­tle Susit­na Riv­er on the Palmer Fish­hook Road, you will see a pull­out on the side of the road.

Locat­ed at Mile 11 of Hatch­er Pass Road, you’ll find Gov­ern­ment Peak Pic­nic Area. There is a small camp­ground with 8 sites for tents or small­er RVs, and a pic­nic area.

The lodge was a pic­turesque, two sto­ry 13,208 square foot wood frame build­ing. The orig­i­nal small­er lodge (the Lit­tle Su Road­house) was built in 1942 to serve the traf­fic trav­el­ing to the Inde­pen­dence Mine and between Palmer and Wil­low and lat­er expand­ed in 1983 to include 14 guest rooms, a din­ing and meet­ing rooms, and a day lodge. The Moth­er­lode Lodge burned down in April, 2015.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 16 miles Elevation Gain: 2900 feet

A straight­for­ward trip with big scenery pay­offs, like the pic­turesque Mint Hut and a val­ley dot­ted with hang­ing glac­i­ers. This trip is a great first back­pack­ing trip in Alas­ka with sim­ple logis­tics. It’s 16 miles with options for addi­tion­al miles and side trips.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 2200 feet

About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Moth­er­lode Restau­rant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the sum­mer­time you can dri­ve the trail for a mile or two, but it is pit­ted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a park­ing area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail con­tin­ues with lit­tle ele­va­tion gain ini­tial­ly, but after a mile or so you will  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

As you approach the Inde­pen­dence Mine Park­ing Lot, the trail can be seen to the far right end. It cross­es over a small bridge, and winds up past an old aban­doned min­ing cab­in, and then up a debris field and final­ly to the lake. Round trip, the hike is almost 2 miles, and the ele­va­tion gain is approx­i­mate­ly 600 feet. The trail can be mud­dy and wet for the first .25 miles, but it’s worth the hike to see Gold Cord Lake, and a great view of the Mine  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Just past Archangel Road, you will see a pull­out on the left. In the win­ter months, this is an extreme­ly pop­u­lar spot among back­coun­try skiers and snow­board­ers. How­ev­er, this steep, unmain­tained freestyle is not rec­om­mend­ed for novices. Dur­ing the sum­mer months the trails are used for moun­tain biking. 

The Fish­hook Trail­head park­ing lot is locat­ed at mile 16.5 of Hatch­er Pass Road. This area is active­ly used year round. In the sum­mer it’s a great area to hike and in late sum­mer the slopes are abun­dant with blue­ber­ries. This trail­head also leads to Mar­mot Moun­tain, were paraglid­ers launch from the top and land in the park­ing lot. In the win­ter, the area draws indi­vid­u­als to sled, ski and snow­ma­chine. This trail­head inter­sects with The Hatcher  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Sum­mit Lake, locat­ed some 60 miles north of Anchor­age at the crest of Hatch­er Pass, offers a short, mem­o­rable lake­side ram­ble. Here you can explore the sur­round­ing gul­lies and slopes or just sit and watch hang glid­ers drift out over the long Wil­low Creek Val­ley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.

Distance: 2 miles

This 2 mile round trip hike begins right at the Sum­mit Lake Recre­ation Area park­ing lot at the crest of Hatch­er Pass.