Hatcher Pass isn’t actually a town, but nonetheless, this alpine paradise features some unique lodging opportunities that show off the stunning views of the Talkeetna Mountains, gold mining artifacts, and prime year-round outdoor recreation activities including hiking, skiing, snowshoeing, berry picking, and more.
About Hatcher Pass
Hatcher Pass is a favorite recreation area for residents of the Matanuska-Susitna Valley and Anchorage area, and is easily accessible from Palmer, Wasilla, and Anchorage. Its stunning panoramas are some of the most photographed views in the Mat-Su Valley.
Things to do
The main attraction of Hatcher Pass is 272-acre Independence Mine State Historical Park, a huge, abandoned gold mine sprawled out in an alpine valley. Within the beautiful bowl-shaped valley of the park are the remains of 16 buildings that were built in the 1930s by the Alaska-Pacific Mining Company, one of the leading hard rock gold mines in Alaska in its day. Closed in 1951 and now a state park, the mine and the company town that was built around it make for a fascinating tour. Today you can explore the structures, hike several trails, join a guided tour in the summer, and take in the stunning views at Hatcher Pass.
There are several hiking trails in Hatcher Pass, with something for all skill levels. The Gold Cord Lake Trail leaves from the Independence Mine area and is 1.7 miles round-trip, leading to a scenic alpine lake. The popular Gold Mint and Reed Lakes Trails are more strenuous and showcase the area’s blue lakes, clear creeks, tundra, and the jagged peaks of the Talkeetna Mountains, and are excellent spots for overnight backpacking trips.
If you’d rather have a little more comfort for your overnight adventure, book one of the iconic red cabins at Hatcher Pass Lodge, nestled in the mountains at 3,000 feet in elevation, just below Independence Mine. The lodge and cabins feature superb views and are a great spot for northern lights viewing in the winter. You can also enjoy a hearty meal and a warm drink in front of the fire at the charming mountain lodge.
In winter, downhill and backcountry skiers, snowboarders, and cross-country skiers flock to Hatcher Pass. A fantastic network of cross-country ski trails is groomed around the Independence Mine area. Snowmobiling is also very popular west of the pass. Visitors are encouraged to check current snow and avalanche conditions before venturing into the backcountry. The Mat-Su Borough also maintains an excellent sledding hill near Independence Mine State Historical Park that is wildly popular with families and free to the public. The new Skeetawk Ski Area at the base of Hatcher Pass has 30 skiable acres of beginner downhill terrain.
Summit Lake State Recreation Site is also located in the area, just two miles passed the turnoff to Independence Mine. Summit Lake is a small cirque lake with a breathtaking backdrop of the Willow Creek Valley. The site does not have camping but provides the perfect spot for a picnic in a spectacular setting. Hiking and berry picking are also popular activities. The road to Summit Lake is open in the summer, typically from July through September.