Trek price does not include cost of transportation to McCarthy or lodging in McCarthy before and after the trek as there are several options we can discuss.
Alaska Backpacking Adventure
This route runs a close second to the Seven Pass trip though it's a bit less strenuous which makes it the sweet spot for many seeking a longer route.
It's a mix of longer and shorter days as we wend our way up and over three ridges. And the views from our high points are spectacular. You will enjoy some awesome vistas of the snow and ice-clad University range from our loft perches. The flight in to the tiny airstrip at our starting point on Canyon Creek takes us through some of the most impressive backountry terrain that the park has to offer.
No sooner are we out of the plane than we face our first challenge, a turbulent stream crossing - but it's not as bad as it looks. Once safely across, we will want to get moving to warm up our chilly legs. A few hours of hiking take us to a pass where we make our first camp. The view from our perch offers an exciting preview of the journey ahead.
We spend several days slowly circumnavigting the lower skirts of Pyramid Peak which reveals it's many faces as we work our way around. The last up and over is at the shoulder of Andrus Peak. The hike up the skinny ridge to Andrus offers great views and is one of the most exciting days of hiking on the trip.
One the last two days we get a bit of a bonus as we hike down Rex Creek, the site of some gold mining and dredging operations from early in the last century. The ruins and relics left behind from gold mining days invite investigation all along the creek valley. We spend the last night of our hiking trip near the old town site of Chititu Camp. There are still some old structures in various stages of collapse that we can explore. From Chititu it's a pleasant hike down the remains of an old mining road as we leave the mountains behind and head into May Creek near the Nizina river.
The Adventure at a Glance
Begins in McCarthy, Alaska
7 days/6 nights trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Difficulty: A mix of strenuous and more moderate days
Duration: 7 days trekking, 9 days total including travel time
Season: Early July - Early September
|Day 0||Arrive in Anchorage by late afternoon and get checked in to your hotel (not included). The group will meet up with the guide for a gear review and distribution of food and group gear. We'll continue the meeting over a relaxing dinner where we all get to know each other a bit and go over some logistics.|
|Day 1||Our van picks you up at your hotel around 8:00 am for the drive to McCarthy. You may also elect to drive in a rental car. It's an amazing drive and one of the most scenic in Alaska. Arrive in McCarthy around 6:00 pm in time for the meeting with your guide. The guide will review your gear and distribute food and group gear as well as go over logistics for the following departure day.|
|Day 2||We get an early start and begin our trek with a bush flight. Our begins in the remote valley on an airstrip so small we have to be ferried in one at a time in a super cub. You might want to close your eyes as we drop down into the little-used airstrip along Canyon Creek - but not to worry, our pilot is one of the best backcountry pilots in the area.No sooner are we out of the plane than we face the first challenge of our trek - a turbulent stream crossing - but it's not as bad as it looks. Once safely across, we will want to get moving to warm up our chilly legs. We hike for a few hours up Canyon Creek till we get to the base of a rib that will lead us up and over a high ridge. Due to the logistics of getting into this remote spot, it's often lunchtime before we get going from the airstrip. So we start with a shorter day as the next day requires us to get up and over a ridge that would be too much for the first day.|
|Day 3||It's a challenging day and a real hump to get up the ridge, so we take our time and take a slow but steady pace. The hike to the top is demanding but when we stand on the crest and suck up the amazing views of the University range, it's well worth the effort. This is one of the best viewpoints on the trip. Depending on how long it took us to hit the ridge, we might take a little side trip along the crest. Then it's all down hill as we cruise into a great, stream-side campsite far below.|
|Day 4||After a demanding day crossing the ridge we're happy to follow-up with an easier one. Our day begins with a steep bit up along the side of a rock glacier, but this is a much shorter ascent than yesterday. Crossing the rock glacier requires some careful footwork but soon we are on the other side. Depending on the weather, and our energy, we might take a side trip to get a nice view of Pyramid Peak. Then it's downhill once again to set camp in the most amazing wildflower meadow filled with Monk's Hood, Lupine, Fireweed and more.|
|Day 5||Rested up from our easier day, we once again have a full day ahead of us. But what a rewarding hike as we do a high traverse around the base of Pyramid Peak. When we hit the top of our final ridge a whole new face of Pyramid explodes into view inviting nice rest break and photos. A quick descent to the stream below brings us to a lovely lunch spot. From here it's fairly easy hiking to our camp, well except for our ascent up the Anvil. It's really steep, but really short and once up, were 20 minutes from camp.|
|Day 6||We get right down to it and head up the crest of a narrow ridge that puts us on the shoulder of Andrus which looms above us. From the top we enjoy amazing views all around including one last look at Pyramid. This is the favorite viewpoint for many people. After enjoying the high views, we drop down the snowfield on the other side.After threading our way around the foot of a rock glacier we make camp near the edge of Rex Creek right at the headwaters.|
|Day 7||This is the big get-our-boots-wet day. Today we wind our way down Rex Creek where the terrain forces us to cross and re-cross the stream about half a dozen times. After a final crossing at the confluence of Rex and White Creeks we end our day by making camp at the site of Chititu Camp. Chititu was once an active gold mining settlement in the middle of the wilderness. Remains of cabins, barns, chicken coops and other structures wait our discovery.|
|Day 8||Our last day of hiking will be a fairly easy one for the most part. Next we resume our backpacking trip and travel down what remains of the old road that was once the miners access to Chititu, though it's more a route than a road these days. We will arrive at May Creek in the early afternoon.The large strip at May Creek allows for a plane big enough to carry our entire group and all of our gear. It’s a short flight back to McCarthy. After showers and fresh clothes we gather at the local saloon for a celebratory dinner.|
|Day 9||The van departs at 10:00 am for the return trip to Anchorage arriving around 6:00 pm. Overnight in Anchorage|
How Do We Get to McCarthy Alaska?
There are several options.
If you have more than 2 in your group then renting a car out of Anchorage can be a good option.
A shuttle service provides van transportation between Anchorage to McCarthy, Alaska. The shuttle departs Anchorage at 8:00 am arriving around 5:00 pm in McCarthy. This is the besst, most economical way for one or two people to get to McCarthy and back.
If you are driving or taking the shuttle it takes about 8 hours to drive Anchorage to McCarthy.
Round Trip: US $390.00
The van service is operated by Wrangell-St. Elias Tours. Once you have a hotel reservation in Anchorage you will need to let them, as well as me, know where you will be staying. Also give them your cell phone number if you will have one with you.
Wrangell St. Elias Tours
Contact: Jennifer Titus
Ride n Fly
The last 60 miles from Chitian to McCarthy is on the McCarthy road. 40 miles of the road are unpaved. It's usualy in good shape and any vehicle can easily drive it. But some folks prefer not to.
An alternative is to drive to Chitina and from there take the Wrangell Mountain Air shuttle that flies three times daily to McCarthy.
Wrangell Mt. Air - http://www.wrangellmountainair.com/getting_to_alaska.htm
Wrangell Mt. Air can also arrange a charter flight just for your group. Contact them about current rates.
There is a mail plane that flies between Anchorage and McCarthy twice a week - on Mondays and Thursdays. This is a good way for one or two people to get to and from McCarthy. Beautiful flight and no long drive in the car. With only two flights weekly you would likely need to arrive a few days early in McCarthy.
Where Do We Meet?
You will be picked up at your hotel around 8:00 am of Day 1 as shown on the itinerary. The van usually arrives in McCarthy by 6:00 pm At this time you will meet your guide and the rest of the group in McCarthy for an orientation meeting the evening before the trip begins. You will be in contacted approximately 2-3 weeks before your trip and we will specify the exact location of the orientation meeting at that point. The morning of departure it's a short walk across the street to Wrangell Mt. Air where we catch a shuttle van to the airstrip for our departure into the backcountry.
We like to get an early start on the first day as it might take two flights to get everyone into the backcountry. Departure times of 8:30 a.m. are common. Our pickups on the last day are usualy around mid-day to allow us time to get back to McCarthy and get cleaned up and relax before dinner.
Your safety is our top priority. Our treks are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are certified wilderness first responders or EMT's, each with years of wilderness experience. On most treks the guide carries a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 9074.554.1088 for more information.
Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.
We prefer to run small groups and our clients like it that way too. The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide. Larger groups are possible for private trips. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 907.554.1088 and we'll answer all your questions.
Weather in the Wrangells
Alaska is pretty far north and like any mountain evirronment we are prone to sudden temperature and weather shifts. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). See below for average summer temperatures in Wrangell-St. Elias. July is especialy variable and we have had temps hit the low 80s some summers. Mid August is when things start to cool down a bit but still great hikng weather.
|Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)|
What's Not Included
: See the Gear List for detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your trek.
Meals: What To Expect
All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.
For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables. In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.
We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.