Reed Lakes Trail
Lakes sit high in the Talkeetna Mountains well above treeline.
The hike up to Lower Reed Lake covers 3.3 miles. Add
another mile reach to Upper Reed Lake.
Round trip, plan on about six to eight hours to complete.
Claimjumper and I took Emily with us backpacking and we camped at
Lower Reed Lake one rainy weekend.
We camped in a spot overlooking the beautiful lake (pictures
cannot do it justice) with a view of the spectacular waterfalls.
This adventure is one we will do again, but next time hopefully
in better weather. This is
one that I definitely recommend backpacking.
There is so much beauty to explore and enjoy that I would hate to
get up there just to have to turn around and go back.
north on the Glenn Highway through Palmer.
As you leave the town of Palmer, watch for the sign indicating
“Fishhook Road.” Turn
Left on Fishook. This road
was recently paved all the way up to Independence Mine.
As the road winds along side the Little Susitna River, watch for
the Motherlode Lodge on the left side.
Mark your odometer at this point and continue another eight
tenths (.8) of a mile looking for a hidden right turn onto Archangel
Road. Even with the sign it
is easy to miss the turn onto Archangel.
Archangel is not maintained.
Once we drove it with a Dodge Intrepid, but the going was quite
tedious. A car or truck
with a little ground clearance is recommended.
Archangel is covered by water at mile 1.5. Don’t worry, the water is not deep and the soil is
generally pretty firm underneath. You
may want to hop out of your vehicle to take a look before you cross.
Part of the old culver sticks out of the ground at the sharp
metal present a hazard for tires. At mile 2.5 there is a parking lot at the Reed Lakes
trailhead on the right side of the road.
is no cost to park or use the trail.
There are no facilities. There
are plenty of places to refill water bottles out of the streams so be
sure to pack your water filter. Restrooms
are self-dug, so bring your trowel, too.
I rate this hike as easy to moderate.
The first mile of the trail can be hiked, biked and, in the
winter, skied. It is a very
gradual elevation gain and any level of hiker can easily make it to the
old mining camp. Bridges
allow crossing of the streams through the camp and the hike continues at
the back of the mine. Check
out the old sluice shoot and the wooden pipes in the water below the
bridges. The miners would
use the water flow to separate the dirt from the heavier gold.
Another trail climbs to the left from the mine, but we have not
explored that one.
the mine the elevation increases more rapidly.
This area has some incredible blueberry patches.
Eventually the trail comes to a boulder field covering the
streams. Cross to the far
side of the boulder field, as this will lead to the easiest trail and
will get you across the stream. Nevertheless, the boulders make for a challenging course for
the next mile. At the top
of the boulder field the trail continues along the stream leading up to
Lower Reed Lake and it is an easy and gradual gain.
If you want to make this a two day trip you can
plan to camp at Lower Reed Lake or at the waterfalls just above it.
The ground is open and soft, perfect for pitching a tent. It
was pouring down rain by the time we reached the lower lake, but we
still managed to cook our meals using our camp stove and made camp for
the night. Oh yes, bring a
camp stove if you plan to cook. There
is no wood up at the lakes, and no place to have an open fire.
I had chosen a level area for out campsite, but the women told me
I was crazy and insisted we camp on a slope above.
As usual, they were right. The
next morning that flat area was covered with about two inches of water!
The only wildlife we saw on the hike was a really
big marmot that came out to watch us just above the boulder field.
In the animal kingdom, human hiking is a spectator sport.
To see a video of the Lower Reed Lake and waterfalls, click
Last visited: August 2003