Hatcher Pass is one of our favorite places to visit in the Matanuska Valley region. A beautiful mountain stop with unlimited activities and amazing views, this is a place where you can refresh your soul, go hiking, skiing, possibly swim, explore, and just enjoy as a family.
YouTube Hatcher Pass Video
At the height of our insanely warm summer of 2019, we ran a quick video tour of Hatcher Pass. Here you will enjoy driving Hatcher Pass from the Palmer side to the Willow side, get a glimpse at the beautiful views, and explore one of the popular roadside stops called Summit Lake. Because it was such a warm day, you’ll be entertained by people swimming in a lake that is glacier fed and freezing cold…but was enjoyable because the heat was so surprisingly intense! Then a few seconds later, we walk from the lake a few hundred feet to play in a snowfield.
Only in Alaska, right?? Be sure to check it out and subscribe to our channel for more videos!
Hatcher Pass Summer Activities
The road leading from Palmer to Willow (or Willow to Palmer!) is only open a few months of the year – from about July 4th until sometime after September 1st. They close the road as soon as snow flies as it is not maintained. This means that many of the places at Hatcher Pass are not easily accessed during the winter. During the summer, however, Hatcher Pass is a gem.
There are unlimited hikes and places to explore. Beautiful fireweed blooms along the side of the roads and the fields. You can spot ptarmigan, enjoy the tarns, and just be amazed by God’s beautiful creation. Around Summit Lake you can often see paragliders enjoying breathtaking gliding trips in the winds that are often in the area.
Two of our favorite hikes in Hatcher Pass for our family are Gold Cord Lake and April Bowl. They have some technical aspects, but all of our children can accomplish these hikes and we all enjoy the beautiful views and fresh air from these hikes. If you are looking for a history lesson, be sure to stop at the Independence Mine. Summit Lake is great if you are just wanting some mountain fresh air without a big hike. And don’t forget to just wander and explore the area! We know we have only just begun to scratch the surface of the Hatcher Pass area.
Hatcher Pass Winter Activities
Despite the fact that a large portion of the Hatcher Pass road system is closed during the winter, there are plenty of beautiful things to do in the area during this season as well. You can still drive the roads from the Palmer side up to the Independence Mine lower parking lot. This is a popular area for sledding and snowshoeing. The Archangel valley area is also popular for cross country skiing.
The sides of the mountains are open for backcountry skiing, and in the winter of 2020 the first small ski resort, Skeetawk, will be opened for more accessible and affordable family skiing. The resort is expected to grow, but it is hopeful that it will remain small and charming for families of the area.
Hatcher Pass is a perfect place to just enjoy some easily accessed trails and fresh air in the Matanuska Valley region. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. And if you check this area out, be sure to drop your favorite place below!