Hiking and Horseback

The Mat-Su Valley area, just North of Anchorage running to the crest of the Alaska Range, has well over a thousand miles of trails. We have hiked over 250 miles of these trails and many are excellent for visitors to Alaska. The trails run from easy to extremely difficult, dangerous and remote. Remember Alaska is very large and doesn't have a lot of people except for the Anchorage area. Most people never venture more than 10 miles from the highway system.

Hatcher Pass, Independence Mine State Park

The Talkeetna Mountains behind the Inn hold hundreds of miles of hiking trails. You can take a short drive to the top of Hatchers Pass, lunch at the Mother Lode Lodge or the Hatchers Pass Lodge, and spend the rest of the day touring the Independence Mine Historical Park, the Gold Cord Mine, or hiking through beautiful alpine terrain to the Reed Lakes or other scenic points.

Some of these trails are the most scenic in North America. We have gold pans available for our guests to take along to try their hand at panning. Gold was first mined here by the Russians. Placer gold was discovered in 1897. From 1909 to 1950, 400,000 ounces of gold were recovered from the Hatchers Pass mines. There are still several active mines in operation today. During the winter months, Glacier Snowcat Skiing & Tours (907-373-3118) arranges transportation for skiing. Alaska Toy Rentals (907-775-1880) rents recreational equipment in Wasilla.

Favorite Hikes

Thunderbird Falls

Just off the Glenn Highway is an easy 2 mile round trip hike to the Falls. Elevation gain 300 feet.

Eklutna Lake

The Eklutna Lake area has a number of hikes and is within the Chugach State Park, 20 minutes South of the Agate Inn. East Twin Peak trail is 8 miles, 7-8 hours long, with elevation gain 4,150 feet. The hike is easy, but yet strenuous with dall sheep and views overlooking Eklutna Lake (12 miles long). Eklutna Lake to Eklutna Glacier trail is 24-32 miles, fairly easy along the side of the lake. The trail is also used by mountain bikes and four-wheelers. During weekdays there are few people on the trail. Bold Peak Valley is a side trip off the Eklutna Lake trail. It is approximately 20 miles round-trip from the parking area. Elevation gain is 3,000 feet. Bike and kayak rentals are available at the lake from Lifetime Adventures (907-746-4644).

Hatcher Pass

The Hatcher Pass area has numerous alpine trails. Reed Lake trail is considered an alpine classic hike with lakes, waterfalls, granite spirals. It is 8 miles, 5-7 hours with elevation gain of 1,600 feet. Mint Glacier trail is 24 miles, 12 hours long, elevation gain 2,000. Independence Mine has a number of short trails, 1-3 miles with elevation gain of 100 to 1,000 feet. Summit Lake area has a number of short 1-2 mile trails. Craigie Creek trail on the Willow side of Hatchers Pass is 3 miles long, 1-3 hours with elevation gain of 950 feet.

Horseback Riding

We have a number of hiking guides and horseback riding adventures within a short distance of the Agate Inn.

In Palmer, with panoramic views of the Matanuska Valley, Kim's Scenic Tours offers guided horseback rides. (907) 745-4000.

D&S Alaskan Trail Rides offers summer horseback rides and winter sleigh rides (907-745-2208). For information about area horse shows contact Marilyn Weber (907-745-7700).

Mat-Su Valley Trail Information

U.S. Government. National Park Service , Public Information Office, 605 W. 4th Ave., Suite 105, Anchorage, AK 99501 (907-271-2737)

Alaska State Parks, Department of Natural Resources, 3601 C Street, Suite 1200, Anchorage, Alaska 99503-5921 (907-745-3975)

Matanuska-Susitna Borough, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division, P.O. Box 1608, Palmer, Alaska 99645 (907-745-9636) The Borough has a Trails Inventory book, 137 pages, which sells for $10.

There are a number of books on area Trails. One of the best is 55 Ways to the Wilderness in South Central Alaska published by The Mountaineers, 1011 S.W. Klickitat Way, Seattle, WA 98134. ISBN 0-89886-106.3 ($10.95). This book should be available at any book store.

Mountaineering Club of Alaska, 1106 W. 54th Ave. Anchorage, AK 99510. Single membership is $10/year, includes monthly newsletter: Scree. MCAK also maintains a trail hut system.

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