Families with children or those looking for a mellow time in the mountains will love this area. The easier terrain of the and the many lakes that are sprinked all around make it a great family hiking choice. This is a delightful route through a magical, almost pastoral landscape. We will pass through rolling hills sprinkled with tiny lakes that sparkle like freshly cut emeralds nestled among velvety green pillows. At the periphery of the central hill country is a ragged ridge line of rugged crags and peaks that form a dramatic backdrop to the gentler terrain of our route. The gently rolling terrain makes this a good choice for a family oriented wilderness vacation or for those just wanting a more mellow adventure.
Our journey begins on the eastern edge of a high plateau with commanding views of the surrounding area including a view into the expansive Chitina River valley to the north. We will work our way slowly across this undulating plateau taking time to explore the many lakes that are hidden behind gentle ridges or tucked away in dramatic cirques at the feet of jagged peaks.
One of the highlights of this route is the opportunity for viewing the many Dall sheep that inhabit the area. The wide open terrain makes them easy to spot from afar. But bring your telephoto lens if you want to get up close and personal with these elusive animals.
There is one difficulty we might encounter - trying to decide on camping sites among the many idyllic spots that beckon at every turn. Bubbling streams with story book waterfalls will compete with towering slopes nearby for our attention.
The Steamboat Hills trip is an excellent introduction to wilderness travel in the Alaskan back country and a great choice for a family oriented Alaskan vacation. This route can be done as a base camp or loop trek.
If you would like to see more pictures of this vacation trek request our CD of photo slideshows from the park.
Contact us if you would like to know more about this Alaska hiking trip.
5 days/4 nights trekking in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Type: Loop/base camp
Difficulty: Easier to Moderate
Duration: 5 day wilderness trek
Custom Trips: Custom trips can be scheduled mid June to mid Sept.
Day 1: We usually get an early start the next morning and are flying into the backcountry after breakfast. Most people find the flight in a small bush plane to be a real highlight of the trip. But before long the pilot is touching down on an airstrip that is little more than two worn tracks on the tundra. It will probably take two flights to get our group into the drop off point but we’re in no hurry. From here we will likely head off towards a sweet little lake that is right on the edge of a steep plateau. This will be our camp for the next two nights.
Day 2: We won’t be moving camp this day so we can enjoy a leisurly breakfast followed by some hiking without the loads. We have a couple of options today to go for a hike up to the top of the nearby ridge where we enjoy spectacular views of the Chitina river valley below. Just enough of a hike to work up an appetite for dinner.
Day 3: Today we shoulder the packs and head off for a spot in Steamboat Hills that I call the Lake District. We’ll set up camp at the first one and enjoy this idyllic spot.
Day 4: This is another layover day so we enjoy a lazy breakfast before packing up our lunch. This is a great day to do a bit of exploring. There are over half a dozen little lakes in the area and some of them are tucked into out of the way corners. But we will have plenty of time to visit them all and still be back in camp for a well-earned dinner.
Day 5: It’s back on the move today as we enjoy our last day in the backcountry we return to our airstrip for the flight back to McCarthy. Later this evening we gather at the Golden Saloon for dinner and a cold brew as we toast our adventures.
What's Not Included
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.
Gear We Provide
What Clothes To Bring
Please refer to the gear list for recommended clothing (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (a few reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon ), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required.
NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour.
How do We Get to McCarthy;
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 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'll meet your hiking guide and group in McCarthy for an orientation meeting around 6:00 p.m. 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, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 907.554.1088 and we'll answer all your questions. If you have a larger group than ten give us a call as there are ways we can work with bigger groups such as scout groups.
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)|