This spring, the Alaska State Legislature approved 13 million dollars to set aside for the Alaska Long Trail project. What is the Long Trail, you ask? Well, the proposed long trail project will follow sections of the Historic Iditarod Trail and other routes. Many segments of the trail already exist, like Lost Lake and Bear Lake trail systems, Johnson Pass Trail, Turnagain Pass Trail (in construction), Berry Pass/Upper Winner Creek, Crow Pass, the Hatcher Pass Hut system trails, and more. The Long Trail project proposes to link them all into one continuous hiking trail, stretching from Seward to Fairbanks.
By 2023, we (Alaska Huts) will have multiple huts in the Long Trail vicinity, though not located on the trail itself. Manitoba Mountain Hut and the proposed Spencer Glacier Lodge (and Glacier Discovery Trail) will be on either side of the Johnson Pass Trail. While our huts will not be immediately accessible, it doesn’t take much imagination to envision a future with a huge network of trails all over the Kenai Peninsula, linking the Long Trail to other existing Kenai Peninsula trails (Resurrection Pass, Devil’s Pass, Russian Lakes, etc.) and the Alaska Huts Association Huts facilities.
Close your eyes and picture starting in Hope and hiking towards Resurrection Pass, but taking a left and coming out near Manitoba Mountain on the Seward Highway via the Summit Creek Trail. After a night at Toba’s Yurt, you continue over into the Johnson Pass area via Juneau Creek, follow the Johnson Pass trail north, and pop over into the Placer River Valley and spend another night at the Spencer Glacier Lodge! The potential for traverses, linkups, loops, and thru-hikes is almost limitless. Most of this is daydreaming, but the Alaska Long trail will definitely follow the Johnson Pass trail, and it will pass by the Portage Whistle Stop before continuing towards Girdwood.
If you want to learn more or get involved, head on over to the Alaska Trails website and take a look at what they’ve been working on. Alaska Trails is one of our non-profit partners, and we share the vision of an accessible backcountry for all. Check out the Glacier Discovery trail below, as well as the surrounding area. Just by looking at the map with a little imagination, anyone can see that the possibilities are endless!