Pinnell Mountain Trail, Alaska, USA, 1998

 

Distance :  44km

Avg.Time :  2 daysa_11

Start / Finish :

  • Eagle Summit trailhead – Twelve mile summit trailhead.
  • No public transport, but hitching isn’t too difficult. Not many cars on this section of the Steese Highway, but those that do come by will generally give you a lift.
  • Another possibility is contacting the Fairbanks Hiking club, who organise regular walks in this area during the summer. See their website for details: www.fairbankshiking.org .

Season :  May to early October.

Maps / Info :

  • I used the map and trekking notes in Lonely Planet’s Backpacking in Alaska (1995). A similar map and trail description is available in LP’s Alaska guidebook, published in April, 2009.
  • See the Bureau of Land Management website for both a downloadable trail map and general information about the route.
  • Four USGS  1:63,360 topographical maps cover the trail: Circle B-3, B-4, C-3 and C-4.
  • If carrying four topo maps for such a short trail seems excessive (and it does), check the following link where you can purchase a single topo map for the entire route:  http://www.trails.com/tcatalog_trail.aspx?trailid=HGA003-068

Route / Conditions :

  • The route is well marked with rock cairns.
  • For most of its length the trail traverses alpine ridges, passing by various distinctive rock formations, sculpted into fantastic shapes by the elements. A surreal landscape when shrouded in fog.
  • June is an excellent time to do the Pinnell Mountain trail. It is the prime season for wildflowers and between the 18th and 25th, you can witness the natural phenomena of the midnight sun. Suffice to say, it is also the most popular time of year and the huts may often be full.
  • Water is usually available at both huts. The Bureau of Land Management suggetsts that all water along the Pinnell Mountain trail be treated before use.

Sleeping :

  • Camping
  • There are also two backcountry huts along the route, which provide much-appreciated refuge when the weather turns nasty.

Overview :

  • This is a beautiful trail; definitely worth the effort of getting here.
  • I walked the Pinnell Mountain Trail in August, 1998. Although I missed the wildflowers and midnight sun, I was fortunate enough to meet some wonderful locals from Fairbanks, with whom I shared one of the huts during a seemingly never-ending storm. Great people. On the remote chance that they may one day read this, a big hello to “Cousin” Elizabeth and Patti.