The trail fully opens in late May, usually, but is very wet. Best time to run this trail would be mid June-late August. Trail will become unusable by early October.
This route exposes runners to a true backcountry running experience with its remote location and amazing wide open views of both the Nome River Valley and the Snake River Valley.
Birding — Fall Colors — River/Creek — Views — Wildflowers — Wildlife
There are two creek crossings. The first is Banner Creek at mile ~7 and the second is an unnamed creek at mile ~16 of the run as you are returning on the Glacier Creek Rd (dirt).
Bring an air horn or pepper spray as bear, moose and musk oxen are abundant on the trail. Because of the remote nature of this trail, bring the following: Water bottles (recommend min.40oz), food, rain/wind layer. The trail is not too technical but, as stated before, the remote nature of the trail means you will be on your own for most of the trail with little to no contact with another person for sometimes days.
The trailhead is located on the Old Glacier Creek Road where it crosses with Windmill loop
. Park at the crossroad and head north. The trail begins on an upward climb and levels out at the top into a jeep/4 wheeler trail. There are two thick willow patches to go through as the trail turns east. The trail goes directly through the two patches, is often muddy and slippery. Be aware of animals in these locations.
The trail will eventually meet up with a footpath near the base of King Mountain. This trail comes from the functioning gold mine at the bottom of the hill. At this junction turn north (left) and continue on singletrack. This singletrack trail will follow the ridge line above the Nome River valley, slowly descending until it comes to a ditch line.
At the ditch line, you want to go directly across until you meet a very faint trail. This is the same trail but it has been braided pretty bad and this will be the best/driest route. If you find yourself wading through water for any length of time you have gone the wrong way. This will be the first of many water crossings.
Cross the ditch line and continue on a slight uphill. When you reach the top of the hill you'll be overlooking the Davis Reindeer Corral and the community of Banner Creek.
The trail begins to descend until it reaches the actual creek for which the community of Banner Creek is named. Cross the creek and continue along an abandoned push cart rail system until the trail reappears. The trail will now be a dual track.
This trail is highly visible and easy to follow until it get to the saddle by Owl Mountain, around mile 7 of your run. The trail will cross the saddle and begin to descend from the Nome River Valley to the Snake River Valley. Here it descends and travels through a couple of bog/marshy areas covered with arctic cotton (Note: when you see tundra cotton expect a boggy/marshy area). The trail intersects with a very visible dirt road. This is the Glacier Creek Road. Turn South onto this road. Glacier Creek road is seldom travelled except by families who use it to access their camps along the road. The road is smooth and usually in great condition with rolling hills and gentle descents. This road will eventually pass the Glacier Creek Mine (abandoned) and soon after will intersect with the Old Glacier Creek Road. You'll cross a bridge that goes over the Glacier Creek. Turn left, east, on the Old Glacier Creek Road which is marked with road sign. This road is a continuous accent until you reach your vehicle again.
Birds abound in the early summer to late fall. Expect encounters with wildlife, particularly moose. Late summer/early fall brings amazing colors of red, orange, and yellow but is also moose hunting season.
The trail is used as a hunting trail by local moose hunters in the and bear hunters in the fall and spring. As mentioned, the trail does cross old ditch lines used to move water for gold mining operations in the early 1900s during Nome's gold boom. Along the way you'll pass many small shacks used by those who's job it was to keep these ditch lines operating. These small shacks where their home for the summer, many dating from as far back as 1903.