Thru-hiking the 38-mile Resurrection Pass Trail isn't particularly strenuous—at least not all at once—but it does require either the experience to plan for several days in a remote backcountry setting or a couple of very long days.
Time To Complete
Plan three days on the Res Pass Trail and give yourself enough time to really see it. Bonus: backcountry cabins, maintained by the Forest Service, are spaced perfectly for three eleven-to-thirteen-mile days.
The Resurrection Pass Trail is open in all seasons, and each has its merits—though as the guestbooks at each cabin will tell you in no uncertain terms, you'll want to avoid the buggy season.
On Leash Only
No regulations prohibit dogs from Chugach National Forest, but depending on the season, you may very well encounter big game, bears, and/or avalanche danger—know your dog.
The 38 miles of the Resurrection Pass Trail can be backpacked or mountain biked from spring to autumn, and it’s a popular destination for ski touring when the snow starts to fall. Just a few hours from downtown Anchorage, this thru-hike requires a shuttle, but it’s worth the effort: this quintessentially Alaskan trip packs in multiple ecological zones, an abundance of wildlife, and, from the pass itself, sweeping views from the Harding Icefield to Denali. Plan a long weekend to take it all in—or, if you’re up to the challenge, sign up for the Resurrection Pass Trail Ultra.
What Makes It Great
The Resurrection Pass Trail starts just 300 feet above sea level and climbs gently to 2,600 feet at the summit of the seven-mile-long pass. On a clear day, it’s worth taking a side scramble up to the ridgeline above the pass; you’ll be rewarded with views for literally hundreds of miles—including the Kenai’s Harding Icefield and, if you’re lucky, a peek at Denali.
The Forest Service maintains nineteen backcountry campsites along the trail, as well as eight cabins for public use. You’ll have to reserve the cabins in advance via Recreation.gov, but the hardest part will be leaving them behind: with bunks, wood-burning stoves, and, at lakeside cabins, boats and oars, these well-maintained cabins will have you fantasizing about quitting your job and moving to the bush full-time. (For a boost in backcountry karma, leave the cabins well-stocked with wood for the next visitor.)
Who is Going to Love It
The trail can be hiked either northbound (Cooper Landing to Hope) or southbound. Northbound backpackers enjoy relatively flat hiking until the steep slog to Devils Pass, then a gradual descent into Hope. Many Res Pass thru-hikers choose their direction of travel based on cabin availability; rest assured you’ll be rewarded with killer views regardless. Though the trail is well-marked, hikers should have basic backcountry navigation skills—many a backpacker has been caught in a whiteout in the seven-mile-long namesake pass—and be comfortable in an extremely remote setting for several days.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
The Hope (north) trailhead is 85 miles from Anchorage, and the Cooper Landing (south) trailhead is 107 miles. If you plan to leave a shuttle vehicle at the other end of the trail, leave a note on the dash with your expected return date—there’s no cell service along this super-remote backcountry trail. For detailed directions to each trailhead, pick up Dean Littlepage’s Hiking Alaska guidebook.