Resurrection Pass Trail
Whether you are interested in a day hike or a multi day backpack/bicycle trip, Resurrection Pass would be a good bet for adventure. This trail is level enough so that it has become a favorite for mountain bikers and hikers alike. For our first exploration of this trail, we grabbed our friend and fellow adventurer, Mountainman, and hiked out about three miles one afternoon during September of 2000. The leaves were on fire as the sunlight danced across the reds, yellows and oranges. In the Summer of 2005 we were fortunate enough to have been invited by another friend, Red Leader, to join her for the entire four day hike. She had done the hike fifteen times before, so we had the benefit of a seasoned veteran. After hiking this trail I would have to rate it as a medium difficulty hike purely because of the length. Otherwise, the grade is not steep at all and given that it is such a well maintained trail, as long as you give yourself enough time, anybody who can carry a 30 to 40 pound pack can hike it. And if you plan to bike it, as long as you can pack gear for two days, the trail should be no problem.
The Resurrection trail runs between Hope out to the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. There are many connecting trails and one can even cross the Sterling Highway, pick up the Russian Lakes Trail, connect it with the Resurrection River Trail, and you would end up on Exit Glacier Road just outside of Seward. Another variation to cut a day off the hike would be to enter or exit via the Devil's Pass trail.
To find the trailhead near Hope, take the Hope Highway off of the Seward Highway. Just as you are entering the town of Hope, take a left on Palmer Creek Road and then an immediate right on Resurrection Creek Road. The parking lot for the trailhead is near the end of Resurrection Creek Road. There will be a wooden footbridge that creates access to the other side of the creek where the trail begins. The parking lot at the Cooper Landing end is just off the Seward Highway. When heading toward Seward from Anchorage, just after milepost 53 there will be a bridge that passes over the Kenai River. Immediately following that bridge there is a turn-out for slow traffic on the right side of the Highway. At the end of the turnout, there is a federal parks sign announcing the beginning of the driveway to the parking lot at the trailhead.
The old outhouse on the other side of the footbridge has been removed at the Hope end of the trail. It has been replaced by a modern brick toilet facility that now sits across the parking lot from the bridge. At the Cooper Landing end, there is an older forest service toilet. There are cabins along the trail that also have outhouse facilities. We never had to dig our own trenches while hiking the trail. But we were glad we brought our own toilet paper as there was none to be found at the cabins' facilities. There is no charge to use this trail or park in the parking lots. However, cabin rental is $50 per night and they must be reserved. (See below.) If you decide to camp instead of stay in a cabin, there is no charge. The camp areas have no amenities except flat clear areas to pitch tents. Before you begin your trek, you may want to give the Kenai Forest Service a call to check conditions and make sure no forest fires are burning in the area. Click here to jump to the directory for the phone number.
We spoke with a couple of bikers as we started our hike in 2000. They told us that it takes them about two days to reach Cooper Landing where a car would pick them up. They also noted that there are some dangerous water crossings on the second day of their ride. They would have to carry their bicycles across logs that have fallen across Quartz Creek and Johns Creek. We never heard from them again. But then of course we did not know them at all, so this is not surprising. When we hiked the trail in July 2005, all of the water crossings had solid bridges, and the only potential dangers we saw for bikers were there were cuts in the trail for drainage. If one was traveling too fast and could not stop, the bike's front tire will go down into the trench and the rider could flip over the handlebars. Overall, the trail is excellent for biking. If bikers begin at the Cooper Landing ending, it can be a slow tough climb. But the rest of the trail is relatively easy in terms of grade.
Claimjumper and Mountainman had a blast photographing the fall colors, ice forming around branches in the smaller brooks that were beginning to freeze at night, and the wildlife along the trail. We found several Spruce Hens. Claimjumper advanced on them slowly and snapped some pretty good pictures.
In June of 2005 Red Leader had managed to make reservations for three cabins along the trail. She invited me and Claimjumper to join her, as well as DJ Chester Chomp and Buzzkill from the World of Sound podcast (worldofsound.libsyn.com). She told us that she had been very fortunate to be able to line up cabins for the entire trip. Reservations can be made no earlier that 180 days before one plans to use them. Click here to go to the directory of vendors for the contact information on how to reserve the cabins. Red Leader waited until May 2005 to try to make her reservation for the Devil's Pass Cabin. She does not hike the trail unless she has this reservation because this area of the trail is often windy and rainy. Plus, this is the half way point, so it is the perfect place to stop. After she found a date in late June that the cabin was open, she reserved it and then looked for a cabin in either direction. This time she got lucky. Both the Romig Cabin and the Fox Creek Cabin were available. These two cabins are located about half way between the trailheads and Devil's Pass Cabin. This meant that we would be able to leave our tents at home. Five pounds off one's back reduces pack weight by about 10%.
Most locals take some of the weekend to do this hike (i.e. take Friday and Monday off). Bicyclers can do it over the weekend. So if you are coming to Alaska on vacation, you should have no problem making reservations for the cabins during the week. We started the hike on Saturday. Monday and Tuesday we saw virtually no one for most of the day. The day before we started a boy scout was mauled on the trail. So in addition to the packing list found on the Introduction page of Romancing Alaska, we also brought pepper spray that we purchased at REI just before leaving. The child was hit by the bear because he ran ahead of his troop, and was small and quiet. He startled the bear who was standing next to the trail. The bear knocked the kid down and took a couple bites at him before the troop caught up and chased the bear off. Always make noise as you walk along the trail to make sure your do not startle wild animals. Buzzkill likes to sing, so he and Red Leader serenaded the bears as we walked past. We did not see any the entire trip.
The most deadly animal we encountered was the mosquito. One of the best things about this hike is that there is plenty of water, so you can lighten your pack tremendously (2 pounds per liter) if you just bring a small water bottle and a water purifier pump. It rains a lot in the pass, which means there are plenty of streams, creeks and lakes from which one can pull water. This also creates plenty of breeding ground for mosquitoes. Even though each morning we would slather ourselves in Off! Skintastic with SPF 30 sunscreen, it would sweat off as the day wore on. So Buzzkill kept an aerosol can of insect repellant in the side pouch of his backpack that we could quickly reach for when we needed it.
Previous to this trip I had not done any hiking all summer. So to prepare myself, I loaded my backpack with my sleeping bag, a bunch of pillows, and some weight plates to get the weight to just over 50 pounds. The week before the hike I took three one-hour hikes just around the neighborhood (which was basically flat). I did these in hiking boots that I had used the previous two summers. We recommend wearing hiking boots for this trail. Even though the path appears well maintained, since it rains so much there were always spots that were sloppy. I had no trouble with the hike, and had no blisters. Buzzkill had never been on an overnight hike in his life and he only trained once by loading his pack and walking with me. He, too, had no trouble. Red Leader was the only one who experienced any pain along the trail. She thought that she had a bone fracture in one of her toes, but the next day she found that walking tip toe for about a mile solved the problem. Perhaps the toe had popped out of joint. We were hiking approximately nine miles per day with stops from time to time to snack, rehydrate, and take in the views. We would also drop our packs for about an hour to eat lunch.
Last Visited: June 2005