Hiking Reed Lakes Trail

Hatcher Pass is a central area for a variety of different hikes and destinations to some of Alaska’s most beautiful landscapes. Alaska can be known for it’s aggressive ascents and less than predictable conditions. However, these caveats can be planned for and mitigated. With that being said, many of the trailheads in Hatcher Pass create the perfect Alaska day hiking experience. Reed Lakes is one that offers adventure, a more difficult terrain, and epic alpine vistas.

Finding the Trail

This area is just a short drive from Anchorage. Reeds Lake hike is an out and back trail that is 8.7 miles long. This hike can be very popular in the summer months so waking up early and catching

frozen alpine lake and snowy mountains

During the spring and early summer the lakes may still be frozen

that sunrise start may be in your best interest. The trailhead is accessed by road and starts off Archangel Road. This road is notorious for being extremely rough. It is recommended to have a high clearance vehicle and to take it slow.

The Reed Lakes trail follows along a river all the way up to the lakes. This trail is a great adventure from April to October. Be aware, in the spring and early summer snowpack may still be considerable and ice to be traversed. The fall comes with snow and ice as well, so consider packing micro spikes and gators in additional to your gear. And during the summer, alpine downpours and sleet are probable in the afternoons. Check out this packing article for rain to be prepared.

Taking Off

The hike starts in a tunnel of green that seems to stay cleared even as brush starts to become overgrowth in the later summer months. Bring your bear spray and be a bit loud near the water to give fair notice to any unsuspecting bears that may be ahead. The hike start gentle and brings you further into the pass that rolls with nearby green foothills. Above, jagged and rocky peaks rise around you.

This hike offers small pull out spots to enjoy some snacks and water while you catch a breath and take in the views. The terrain gradually increases and brings you by gushing waterfalls over cascading rocks. Marmots chirp nearby to warn their families of your entry or maybe you’ll catch them basking in the afternoon sun.

Scramble On

As you climb you will be that much closer to the peaks that once seemed so far away. At points you will be scrambling over large rocks that are suspended over the river. This is a point that can

snow on Alaska tundra with mountains

As you reach Upper Reed Lakes area you cross over plushy tundra and into rocky mountain sides

become a bit more hazardous when icy or when it rains. Additionally, this is a great, all hands on, portion of the hike and a lot of fun.

Soon you will be cresting over ridgelines and depending on the time of the year, possibly post-holing your way to the lakes. There are two lakes at the top. If you think the first one is spectacular, be sure to keep making your way to the second one. It is well worth is.

These lakes are depressions left behind from previous glaciers. These lakes offer hallmark views of the pass and offer the chance for an excellent overnight backpacking spot if you have the time. If you look around you might be able to spot the other entry points to the backcountry terrain that lies just beyond the ridge.

Enjoy the Views

Alaska whether is always subject to change and can even result in loss of visibility. Check out this gear list to see just what you need to keep yourself warm and dry when hiking in Alaska. With this hike you may just be inspired to venture further into the wilderness.