Hatcher Pass/Gold Rush History

 Alaska's rich history includes that of the gold rush days and mining. Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park offer you the chance to travel back in time and see how some of the Alaska pioneers lived and worked. This road was originally built as a way for miners to access their sites in the Talkeetna Mountains, and it remains a breathtaking drive with amazing panoramas. Driving this road takes about two hours total, with plenty of alpine scenery, opportunities for picnicking and hiking, and historical buildings and sites to visit. Be aware that this road is not intended for large RVs and is sometimes closed during winter months. The road is paved all the way to Independence Mine parking lot, Mile 16.5.

Starting down the Glenn Highway, you will access Hatcher Pass by taking the Fishhook Road exit at Mile 49.5. Follow the signs, turning left onto Fishhook Road. This road will take you into Independence Mine Historical Park.

Gold Mint Trail

The Motherlode Lodge is located at Mile 14 on the Palmer Fishhook Road, and the Gold Mint Trail starts right across the road. Have lunch or a snack at the Motherlode, or venture up the road four miles further to the Hatcher Pass Lodge to eat. Then enjoy a hike on this trail as it winds along the Little Susitna River. The Gold Mint Trail is about eight miles long one-way and is relatively easy until the end, where it requires bushwhacking and steep climbs. It will ultimately take you to the Mint Glacier.

As you make your way back along Hatcher Pass/Fishhook Road, enjoy the views of the surrounding mountains and alpine scenery, and keep an eye out for wildlife. This drive is a great way to spend a day studying the history of Alaska, all part of your exploration of the Glenn Highway.

Independence Mine

 The Independence Mine gives you a chance to see the remainders of what was once a thriving gold mine operation. Stop in at the visitor center and pick up a brochure for an easy walking tour of the mine, and get information on its history. There are also guided tours usually available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays and those same times plus an added tour at 4:30 p.m. on weekends. The tours will take you through the old bunkhouses and mess hall and rates start at $5. The visitor center is open from 11a.m. to 7 p.m. from June-Sept. The mine area has about 20 buildings that were part of Independence Mine, and old machinery and relics for viewing.

Gold Cord Lake

At the Independence Mine area there is a trail that takes you on a short hike to Gold Cord Lake. The trail is about three quarters of a mile long, and is an easy hike for families with children.

Summit Lake

Located at Mile 19 of Hatcher Pass Road, Summit Lake is what is known as a cirque lake, the beginnings of a long ago glacier. The surrounding area is glacier-carved, with amazing views and a short trail that goes around the lake. This is a moderate hike that does not take a lot of time, but affords exceptional views of the Susitna Valley and Alaska Range.

America's Byways