Resurrection Pass, Chugach National Forest, AK – Trail Report
The Resurrection Pass trail is located on the north end of the Kenai Peninsula in the Chugach National Forest. The trail is a 39 mile traverse with an elevation gain of 2,200 feet. The pass runs between the towns of Hope (north trailhead) to Cooper Landing (south trailhead). I was told by friends that Cooper Landing to Hope gave slightly less elevation gain and made for some kickass downhill. There’s a string of eight cabins on the trail that can be booked through www.reserveusa.com and plenty of good tent sites along the trail. It is a popular trail for mountain biking and hiking. Most bikers shuttle the ride and make it a day trip. Devil’s Creek Trail intersects Resurrection Pass to create two other traverse options that are shorter rides.
I recently purchased the Revelate Viscacha seat bag and Sweetroll handle bar bag. I’ve never ridden Resurrection Pass trail and have been wanting to check it out. My wife was out of state and my new bag purchases put the stars in alignment. I thought it would make a great ride for my first fat-packing trip and to get a feel for riding loaded.
Cooper Landing trailhead
The trail climbs immediately, it was wide single-track and not overgrown. The climb to Juneau Creek Falls, 4 miles in, was rideable all the way.
Juneau Creek Falls
After Juneau Creek Falls the trail was fairly flat to Juneau Lake, 9.5 miles in. Not far from the lake I ran into Jamey Stull (9:zero:7) and John Lynn. They were rocking a day trip on squish Plus Bikes. I knew there was still a lot of elevation gain in front of me, Jamey told me that once I got past Juneau Lake the climb would resume. He wasn’t kidding!
Not far past Juneau Lake I ran into the nastiest swarm of blood sucking bastards I have ever encountered in Alaska. This was also the point where the climb got real. I stopped and slathered on the bug dope, which worked great for my legs and arms but I was sweating so much that my melon was exposed. The vicious blood sucking bastards feasted on my head through the helmet vents. The trail got steep and technical, being loaded down on the Fatty I was forced to get off and push. I pushed the better part of the next 4 miles to Devil’s Pass. The trail was fairly overgrown in this stretch, I got my fill of Devil’s Club, Alaska’s version of Poison Ivy with thorns thrown in for good measure.
Looking back at Juneau Lake on the climb to Devil’s Pass.
Approaching Devil’s Pass.
Found some snow!
Resurrection Pass / Devil’s Pass intersection.
I broke tree line and got into the alpine just before Devil’s Pass. Finally ditching my blood sucking friends I was back in the saddle. Between Devil’s Pass and Resurrection Pass the trail was flat and fast. It was sunny and 70 degrees when I started, as I approached the Resurrection Pass monument it was about 50 degrees and rain was moving in.
Weather change in the alpine.
Resurrection Pass monument.
Starting the 20 mile downhill to Hope!
Once over the pass the downhill was fantastic. After 25 miles on the day I finally arrived at East Creek, my intended campsite. There are three tent sites at East Creek, I lucked out and one was open. I was totally wiped out, I hadn’t ridden in over 3 weeks. It was raining but warm, exhausted, I threw the tent up and crawled in and crashed. Dinner was half a Cliff bar. I woke up at 3:00am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t want to be on the trail this early, most likely no one would be traveling the trail but the bears and mosquitos. I couldn’t go back to sleep, I broke camp and hit the trail at 4:00am. Plenty of daylight being it was July. I had 14 miles left to my tailgate in Hope. My GPS showed it was mostly down. I guessed I’d be out in an hour or two….. it took three hours. There was some climb mixed in. Not eating a proper dinner the night before was a mistake, I never recovered and felt just as tired when I woke up as when I drifted off.
I didn’t come across any sign of bear until the last 5 miles while riding along Resurrection Creek. Fresh bear tracks had me shaking those bells and singing my head off. I came across a fresh steaming pile of scat but did not see a bear while riding. I almost hit a black bear as I was leaving the trailhead in my truck though.
Minus the blood sucking bastards at Juneau Lake the trip was amazing. Being alone in the Alaskan backcountry was incredible, stunning scenery and great trail. There are plenty of tent sites spaced out over the trail and lots of creeks to filter water from. I’ll be back to the pass for certain. The Revelate bags worked great, held more than I needed and stayed in place. I’m hooked, more fat-packing trips are in my future. If you plan to ride in Alaska put this iconic ride on your list, it’s a great overnighter or day trip.
Great trip, Travis! Thanks for sharing the story and pix.
Thanks for the memories Travis. My favorite ride on the planet. First rode it in the 80s on a full rigid (all there was). Love to try it one more time on my Fatboy. If you want some more fun try the Cooper Landing to Resurrection Glacier portion. Be prepared for a few really deep wading experiences, just short of swimming.
I was a few weeks ahead of you. I cycled a lot of it with my head net on to keep the bugs out of the helmet. Beautiful ride.