4 - 5
FATMAP difficulty grade
If you want an alternative to the busy and rather short trails at Hatcher Pass, you can take a long walk into the alpine at Reed Lakes instead.
This trail is quite well traveled in the summer, but less so than some others in the area.
Over the course of its 9 miles roundtrip, you are sure to get a taste of solitude in the mountains. The trail begins as a wide and rather flat path among leafy vegetation.
A creek is visible nearby, and the peaks loom constantly overhead.
Eventually you'll pass the collapsed remnants of a mining camp, next to some conspicuous beaver ponds.
Shorty after, the trail bridges a little creek and begins a switchbacking ascent, earning satisfying views of the valley. Atop this first hill the trail flattens somewhat, but soon enters giant boulder pile that's filled part of the valley.
Rock hopping and light scrambling are required, as well as attention paid to where the trail is going, to reach the top.
From there the trail tips down through some more boulders, then takes a flat stretch to the first of the Reed Lakes.
You'll want to pause and admire the blue lake plus the waterfalls that feed it.
You might contemplate turning around there, which many people do.
The second lake is well worth the extra effort, however, as long as the weather remains favorable. The trail finds passage along the waterfall creek.
It's steep, but there are many good spots to catch your breath and take in the views.
The gradient lessens once more on the final stretch to the upper lake.
This one is truly spectacular, cradled in a cirque of vertical granite that's crowned by jagged peaks.
Hopefully the clouds will allow you to see it all, but even when shrouded, the splendor of these mountains is impossible to hide. Sources: https://www.alaska.org/detail/reed-lakes-trail https://alaskahikesearch.com/hikes/reed-lakes/