Summit Creek Trail is a beautiful moderate hike near Cooper Landing, Alaska. This scenic climb casually gains 3,277 feet of elevation over the course of 6 miles. There are so many options and variations you can do on this hike but for now I’ll cover the trip I took June 18th 2018. If you’d rather watch a fun video of the trip to see this Summit Creek Trail first hand you have that option!
If you’re traveling from Anchorage expect a 84 mile drive. As soon as you pass Summit Lake on your left hand side, be looking for a small pullout on the right hand side. Here’s a link to this google maps location. Lock your car and look for the sign across the road to start the hike.
Let’s get to hiking
What I love about Summit Creek Trail is the first half mile quickly brings you up to tree line. You can see so many gorgeous views and the trip has just begun. The trail is very gradual and keeps you on a westerly trajectory heading up into the mountains. In August and September, keep a lookout for raspberries and salmon berries alongside of the trail. And once you trek past timberline, be ready to find some serious blueberry patches!
I’ve done this hike many times training for cross-country running and skiing in high school. We’d always run 3.5 miles to the saddle (Total Elevation Gain of 2,031ft) that provides a scenic sight of the valley below. No time to stop and enjoy the views though; in order to keep our heart rate up, we’d turn around and run back to the car.
However, on this particular trip, I was able to stop and enjoy the views. This is a great turnaround point if you were wanting to do this as a day hike. A 7 mile round trip hike is generally a good day’s hike. But for you extreme hikers out there I have some more options to share with you.
If you watched the video of my trip, you’ll notice we setup camp near a lake. The lake we stopped at is .7 miles past the saddle right near Ohio Creek. I couldn’t find the name of the lake online but Ohio Creek flows from this lake so maybe its name is Ohio Lake. We found plenty of flat ground, we had a water source, and the mountain beside us was partially protecting us from the wind. We had found a great spot to tent!
Please keep in mind that there is beaver activity in the area and plenty of other rodents to be cautious of so bring a water filtration system with you. The one I bring on these types of trips is Sawyer’s Squeeze Water Filtration System. Pick one up for your next adventure here!
Camping overnight in Alaska
After pitching the tent and waiting out a small rain spell, we climbed back outside of our tent and decided to ascend the mountain closest to us because only climbing 2,000 feet in one day wasn’t enough. Plus, getting to the top of the mountain to see what’s on the other side is what explorers and adventurers have done for millennia. So we climbed approximately another 1,000 feet in elevation to the summit of the mountain right past Ohio Lake. From here we could see the Resurrection Pass Trail. Well not actually physically see it but I knew it was there from previous trips.
Now here is where we had a crazy idea that totally made the trip!
Keep in mind our trip was in June, so there was still significant amounts of snow patches on the mountains. One such patch started at the top of the mountain we climbed and traced all the way back near the bottom. The idea was to snow glissade down this chute. At first, the steepness concerned me. I thought once I pick up speed on the snow I’ll have a hard time slowing back down. Which was a crucial concern because of all the rocks at the bottom of this mountain. However, after doing some testing of the snow, I found the conditions perfect. The snow was soft enough to not allow you to get going too fast, yet it was hard enough to support my 200lbs. I was able to stand upright and ski the whole way down completely under control. I can’t explain just how much fun we had!
A few tips for snow glissading: it’s not always this steep where there is snow. A solution is to bring a garbage sack and or rain coat to sit on. These items have less friction and so you’ll be able to slide down the hill on your butt just as fast! Having gloves along is also helpful for steering and slowing down so the snow crystals don’t rip your hands raw as you try and regain control.
We wound down from our adrenaline rush back in the tent over a warm bowl of noodles. After some card games, I really wanted to get my drone in the air to capture some of these awesome activities we had just participated in. Not wanting to walk a half mile back to where we originally slid down the hill, I glanced around and saw a suitable snow chute right behind Ohio Lake where our tent was set up. The girls wanted to stay in the tent so I convinced John-Mark to tag along so I could film him from the drone.
We hiked a good ways up this snow patch and found a good path. At the bottom of the path was Ohio Lake with ice and snow around it’s shores. The male mind convinced us we would be able to stop in time, so I launched the drone and watched from above as John-Mark flew down the hill! We also tried sliding down the hill on a rock and lastly we tried penguin sliding down the hill on our bellies! You should really watch the video it’s quite hilarious!
After climbing up and down this hill multiple times we were exhausted and the sun was finally setting at 11:41pm. That’s what I love about summers in Alaska! You can be out enjoying the wilderness of Alaska in the middle of the night with plenty of light! We made our way back to the tent and slept soundly all night.
The next morning was relaxing and after consuming some oatmeal and trail mix we packed up the tent and headed the 4.2 miles back to the car. The overnight back packing trip up Summit Creek Trail had come to a close.
Instructions for finding Resurrection Pass Trail from Summit Creek Trail
Now there are a couple more options I promised I would mention earlier so here they are. If you walk 4.2 miles past Ohio Lake where we camped, you reach Resurrection Trail. From here you can head towards Hope or head towards Cooper Landing. One time in 2017, I started hiking from Summit Creek Trail. My mother and I hiked the 8.4 miles until we met up with the Resurrection Pass Trail. We turned left and we walked towards the Devil’s Pass Cabin. From there it was 10 more miles to the highway where the Devil’s Pass trailhead starts. All in all it was a 21 mile hike that we accomplished in one day! If you ever hike this route let me know what you’re time was and we’ll see who did it faster!
I love getting outside and taking these crazy and fun adventures and I hope this story inspires you to break away from the busyness of your life to get outside and enjoy God’s beautiful creation!