Crow Creek Mine
The gravel Crow Creek Road leads from Girdwood three miles to Crow Creek Mine (907/229-3105, www.crowcreekgoldmine.com, daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m. mid-May–Sept.), one of the earliest gold strikes in Alaska (1896) and Southcentral Alaska’s richest mine. The area was actively mined until World War II, producing over 45,000 ounces of gold.
There’s still a lot of gold to be found, and the creek attracts both casual panners looking for a flake of gold and those who come with metal detectors and large suction dredges. (When I last visited, a German tourist had just discovered a pea-sized nugget of gold.)
Eight of the original mine buildings have been restored by the Toohey family and are filled with all sorts of flotsam and jetsam from the past. Entrance is $5 adults, free for kids under age 6; $15 adults or $5 kids if you want to pan for gold (a pan and instructions are provided).
There’s a little gift shop, panning equipment rental, and overnight campsites ($5). It’s a pretty place with a rich history, and a must stop in the Girdwood area.
Continue another four miles out on Crow Creek Road beyond Crow Creek Mine to the Crow Pass Trailhead. It’s an invigorating and beautiful 3.5 miles to the pass, with a 2,000-foot elevation gain. The trail is in the alpine area much of the route and passes old mining ruins and a Forest Service cabin (www.recreation.gov, $35). A half-mile beyond the pass is Raven Glacier, where you enter Chugach State Park.
© Don Pitcher from Moon Alaska, 10th Edition