A wide range of trips throughout Southcentral Alaska.
Anchorage: 36°/52°/Mostly cloudy
Fairbanks: 32°/55°/Mostly cloudy
Wilderness and gold-mining
If you ask Alaskans about a "hidden" escape right in Southcentral, you'll frequently receive the same answer -- Hatcher Pass.
Whether it's hiking, berry picking, a beautiful drive or a chance to experience some of the state's history, Hatcher Pass has it.
The area, which can be reached from Palmer, Wasilla or Willow in the Mat-Su, is one of the places Alaskans flock to when the summer sun shines. It has a bit of everything Alaska has to offer: mountain peaks, a glacier-fed river, alpine tundra, great hiking trails, gold rush history and seclusion.
The road to Hatcher Pass and Independence Mine State Historical Park goes by a couple of names: Hatcher Pass Road or Fishhook-Willow Road. From the Palmer side of Hatcher Pass, it parallels the Little Susitna River before climbing toward the alpine tundra. There are several pullouts along the road so visitors can stop to enjoy the scenery.
Many people are headed to the historical park, which takes visitors back to the area's gold rush era. Independence Mine was one of 38 mines that operated in Hatcher Pass from around 1900 to the 1950s.
The park includes about 20 buildings that were part of Independence Mine. Some of the buildings have been restored and can be toured. Park officials offer special tours of some of the buildings, and a couple are open to everyone.
And if you're ready to lace up your hiking boots, there is no better place than Hatcher Pass.
Here are a couple of popular hikes:
• Gold Mint Trail: It begins across the road from the Motherlode Lodge. The trail is about eight miles and parallels the Little Susitna River, which is fed by the Mint Glacier.
• Reed Lakes Trail: It is a good day hike or overnight destination if you want to do some camping. It is a seven-mile round-trip hike to Lower Reed Lake, and Upper Reed Lake is just a mile farther up the trail. For the super adventurous, Bomber Glacier is just over the peaks surrounding the upper lake.