To say Alaska is breathtaking would be an understatement and a half. America's largest and most sparsely populated state is an outdoors paradise for outdoor adventure lovers and those with tolerance to northern summer bugs. Currently, the three famous super hikes in the United States are the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail. Soon it seems there will be 4 super trails in the country cutting through very different landscapes across the country. See here for the essentials for planning an AT Thru-Hike.
Super Trails In The United States And The World
The United States boasts some truly massive hikes (notably the famous Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail, and Pacific Crest Trails). These three trails form what is termed the Triple Crown of Hiking (perhaps this will be needed to be updated soon). Long trails have an appeal that captivates those looking for an outdoor challenge.
It seems that Alaska too will be soon joining the club of great hikes. Many countries now have these long hikes. New Zealand for example has the Te Araroe that runs the full length of the country. If one was to hike 25 kilometers or 15 miles a day, it would take some 120 days to complete.
- Camino de Santiago: One Of The Most Popular In The World, 500 Miles Long With More Than 300,000 Hikers Annually
- Appalachian Trail: Only 20,000 People Have Completed The Full 2,184 Trail Since 1936; Three Million Visitors Hike Portions Of The Trail Annually
- Pacific Crest Trail: 2,653 Miles
- Continental Divide Trail: 2,700 to 3,028 Miles (Depending On The Exact Route)
What better way to see the landscape than by hiking through it? Perhaps it's surprising Alaska does not yet have such a long trail across such a breath-taking wilderness as that. But that is now set to change.
The proponent of this project has been Alasaka Trails - a nonprofit organization. The idea is to harness the success of the Appalachian Trail and the revenue it brings in for the communities en route and make that true for Alaska.
Alaska Trails (and its partners) are proposing a route connecting Fairbanks with Seward. This would span some 500 miles. But this is perhaps only the first segment. One day this could be expanded to a trail extending from Fairbanks to the Brooks Range and the North Slope and then south to a future SE Long Trail. If realized this would stretch an eye-watering 2000 or more miles. This trail would even mix in ferry rides.
Alaska is now posed to build a long trail that will transform simple day hikes into multi-week undertakings. It is something that people will be putting on their lifelong bucket lists of things to do.
Alaska Long Hike
- Initial Length: 500 Miles
- Where: Fairbanks To Seward, Alaska
- Eventual Length: 2,000+ Miles
- Where: North Slope To A Future SE Long Trail (Down Alaska's Panhandle)
The trail being proposed makes use of many trails that already exist or are otherwise being planned. Additionally, almost the entire route is being planned on public lands. This would be a trail through spectacular country. It would have picturesque mountains, glaciers, and much of the best of Alaskan wildlife.
So while one can not yet hike this great trail, one may be able to soon. Plus much of the trail exists already and there's nothing to stop one from hiking those segments. The sections that need to be built are stretches between the Interior towns of Healy and Nenana and sections of the Iditarod National Historic Trail on the Kenai Peninsula.
Hiking The Trail
The trail will be cutting through some of the nation's most inhospitable climate zones and snow is likely to block large parts of it for much of the year. Hiking this trail will require hikers to be very prepared and ready for adverse weather conditions. Plus one is likely to be much more remote and distant from help and supplies than the other three great trails.
Imagine being able to hike all the way from the frozen north of the North Slope in Alaska the southern coast. This would be monumental and one of someone's proudest achievements. There are not even any roads connecting to Alaska's northern Arctic Coast. See here for how to visit Point Barrow and Utqiaġvik - the northernmost points in America.
- Weather: The Hiking Season For The Northern Parts Of The Trail May Be Quite Short
Alaska has many stunning trails but finally, in the near future, it may just have a super trail. To read about this trail in full depth, see the 14 page PDF report detailing the proposed trail, now with the funding to become reality.