Does it make me a broken record to say, yet again, that I’m slow posting blogs? We’re well settled into our new home state of Alaska now, and no we’re just working hard to fall into our new routine of sports, adventures, homeschool, and life with never-ending TDYs again. Over Labor Day weekend though, we had the opportunity to take our first big road trip in Alaska as a family, and we decided to spend a day hiking Gold Mint Trail in Hatcher Pass. That brought us down south to Palmer, Alaska, a place that’s new to us, but it definitely won’t be the last time we visit!
All About Hatcher Pass Hiking
If you’ve been following this blog for some time, then you know that hiking is in our blood (or bones? or both?) Part of our sheer excitement when we first got our orders to PCS to Fort Wainwright was that we knew the hiking here would be bar none, and it is. We did a small family hike at Monument Creek Trail soon after we arrived, but this was our first longer hike, and Hatcher Pass hiking is well-known.
For those unfamiliar, Hatcher Pass is a mountain pass that traverses the southwestern part of the Talkeetna Mountains. Named for Robert Hatcher, a prospector and miner, this area is an absolute alpine paradise every season. With hiking, camping, epic views and vistas, and everything in between, this area offers year-round outdoor activities from hiking to skiing, snowboarding, berry picking, and more.
Hiking Gold Mint Trail in Hatcher Pass
When we started searching for family-friendly hiking in Hatcher Pass, we knew we wanted a hike that was decently challenging, offered epic views, and would be enjoyable for all. Hiking with kids isn’t always easy, and we always try to have some sort of balance to the whole thing. For example, we go for one of these options:
- Longer but with minimal elevation gain
- Shorter but with an intense elevation gain
This time, we opted for the former, and we chose Gold Mint Trail (the short version). This trail is 6 miles roundtrip, is popular for all ages, and is pup-friendly. So, naturally, we brought Danny, and we made a solid day of it. Whereas hiking in Washington was a crapshoot if you didn’t get there early, Gold Mint Trail got “busy,” in that we saw maybe eight people the entire hike, and it was glorious. Winding along the river, we waded through washed out areas of the trail, stopped for a few late-season blueberries, and were absolutely blown away by the views. Even better? The rain stayed away, and it was a perfect day!
Hiking with Kids in Alaska
Like anywhere else, hiking with kids can be a literal trek. Our kids are pretty good with it, and the boys are fairly snack-motivated. Usually we opt for a place with a great payoff, and this was no exception with the challenge of wading little creeks, spending time with an old friend of Ryan’s, and beautiful views all around.
Mieke is usually our outlier. At four, she’s the same age Porter was when we really started hiking (remember that fateful trip hiking Lake Serene entirely unprepared?) She did about three and a half of the miles on her own two feet though, and I had her in our soft structured Tula otherwise. Sadly, our beloved Deuter broke, and in wanting to encourage her to do more on her own two feet, we haven’t replaced it. All in all though, she did great with minimal complaining, and she even finished that last mile on her own legs.
Tips for Hiking Gold Mint Trail (Short Version)
Trail Length: This one is 6.2 miles roundtrip with very minimal elevation gain.
Level of Difficulty: AllTrails has this trail rated Moderate, but with the lack of elevation gain and despite the length, we’d qualify it as easy.
Cost: Free; park at the resort’s overflow lot or just outside the resort, and take the trail just past the bridge.
Dogs: Yes! Dogs are allowed on-leash.
Tips: Quite a few sections of the trail are completely washed out from the heavy rains of late summer/early fall. Our shoes aren’t totally waterproof, but the kids’ are, so I ended up taking mine off through a few streams to keep my shoes dry. Either wear entirely waterproof boots, or be prepared to wade!