Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: Ukak Falls

Hike into the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, to see the volcanic devastation up close and to stare into a churning river canyon.

Hiking Moderate

Distance
4.1 km
Ascent
181 m
Descent
181 m
Duration
1-2 hrs
Low Point
218 m
High Point
390 m
Gradient
Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes: Ukak Falls Map

This is the hike you can take with a ranger on the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes tour in Katmai National Park. The tour departs from Brooks Camp on a souped-up school bus, driving the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes Road to the Robert F. Griggs Visitor Center. From there, you can see over the ash-covered valley and at the ring of volcanic mountains beyond. The visitor center also has displays about the huge eruption that created this landscape in 1912. There is no other transportation available from Brooks Camp to the Valley, so you’ll want to book this tour in advance.

Description

The hike to Ukak Falls follows a well-traveled trail down a vegetated slope, to the edge of the barren plain and to the rim a sheer-walled canyon. The Ukak River flows within, cutting nearly 100 feet into the volcanic debris and churning violently with ash-laden whitewater. The “falls” are not one distinct waterfall, but a series of rapids that tumble through this precipitous gorge. You can walk along social trails near the canyon rim, but use caution because the edge is unprotected and unstable in places.

The river is but one highlight of this hike, and everywhere you look there’s something else to steal your attention. On the steep walk down to the river, for example, you’ll wander through alder trees and fields of flowering lupine. These plants are slowly reclaiming the devastated valley, but you can see that progress is slow. The huge expanse of ash and pumice still dominates the valley, which you can clearly see by looking across it. You’ll also see various river canyons gouging through it, streaming from the glaciated peaks that surround.

Sources: https://www.nps.gov/katm/planyourvisit/rangerguided.htm https://katmailand.com/katmai-national-park/valley-of-ten-thousand-smokes/

Difficulty

Moderate

Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

June, July, August, September

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area