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Hiking Alaska’s Resurrection Pass Trail

The Resurrection Pass Trail covers 38 miles between the towns of Hope and Cooper Landing, with two side routes leading off to trailheads along the Seward Highway. You’ll gain and lose 2,000 feet in elevation along the way. A series of Forest Service cabins make this one of the most popular hiking destinations in Southcentral Alaska. The trail winds through spruce forests and tops out in tundra, affording opportunities to see a variety of habitats. Wildlife, wildflowers, and wild fish in the lakes and streams add to the trail’s appeal.

bridge over a creek in Alaska
Juneau Creek Bridge on the Resurrection Pass Trail. Photo © USDA Forest Service – Alaska Region, licensed CC BY.

The trail begins four rough miles from Hope up Resurrection Pass Road, where a trailhead has parking, an information signboard, and a fun bridge across the creek. Eight cabins (reservations: $35 plus $10 reservation fee) along the trail, one of which can only be reached via a floatplane, provide a welcome respite from the often-inclement weather. The cabins are basic, each consisting of wooden bunks, a table and benches, a countertop for cooking, an outhouse, and a heating stove for warmth, but without running water, cooking utensils, or bedding. The farther in advance you can make plans for these very popular cabins, the more likely you are to secure a reservation.

If you can’t secure a cabin, there are plenty of spots to camp for the night. Be very careful with campfires, or better yet, use a camp stove for cooking. Also filter or boil all drinking water.

Local wildlife includes moose, black and brown bears, wolves, mountain goats, Dall sheep, and even a local caribou herd. The caribou are scattered and often hard to spot in the summer, but if you look up high in the Resurrection Pass and Devil’s Pass areas, maybe you’ll get lucky. They often like to bed down in snow patches during the heat of the day, so look for dark spots in the snow near ridgelines.

Loop trips are possible, and you can do the Devil’s Pass Trailhead-Devil’s Pass cabin-Cooper Landing trip (27 miles) in three or four days, though hard-core mountain bikers often do it in one day. Hitchhiking to pick up your car is possible, but the Hope trailhead is well off the beaten path for most car traffic.

The high point of the main trail is Resurrection Pass at 2,600 feet. However, even at this comparatively low elevation, the snows of winter can linger well into June. Postholing through thigh-deep snow can dampen the enthusiasm of even the jolliest of hikers. If you’re thinking of an early-season hike, check with the Forest Service office in Anchorage(907/271-2500) or the Seward Ranger District (907/224-3374) for trail conditions.

At the southern end of the Resurrection Pass Trail at Cooper Landing, you can continue south on the 16-mile Russian Lakes Trail, which connects with the 16-mile Resurrection River Trail all the way to Exit Glacier near Seward. Together, these three trails make it possible to hike 74 miles, a 12-day trek that covers the Kenai Peninsula from head to toe.

Mountain Billy Bike Rentals & Shuttles (907/342-7775) provides an excellent option if you want to leave a car at either end of the Resurrection Pass Trail and then shuttle back to your vehicle. Wildman’s (907/595-1456) has a similar shuttle service for hikers and bikers using the trail.

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