Crow Pass / Eagle River Trail - Iditarod National Historic Trail
ElevationAscent: 3,013' 918 m
Descent: -4,036' -1,230 m
High: 3,607' 1,099 m
Low: 408' 124 m
GradeAvg Grade: 6% (3°)
Max Grade: 45% (24°)
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“A multi-day run from Girdwood to the Eagle River Nature Center.”— Aj Schirack
From the Chugach National Forest Crow Pass trailhead parking lot, the trail climbs 2200 ft. on a wide, earth and rock trail over the next 3 miles to Crow Pass. Fantastic views of high peaks, thundering waterfalls and the Raven Glacier surround you in the approach to the Pass, although the area is exposed to any weather that might be moving through. A century ago, this was the most-challenging pass for sleddog teams traveling to the Iditarod goldfields from Seward. With the majority of the climbing out of the way, the trail then descends continuously through low shrubs and alder for the next 9 miles to the crossing at Eagle River.
A rustic camping area with a fire ring is found where the trail first reaches the river, although you're still a half mile away from the marked river crossing. The river is approximately 150 ft. wide and quite cold year round, as it flows out of a glacial lake. The height of water can vary by time of day, especially on warm summer days when maximum glacial melt occurs, so you better brush up on your river crossing skills. Look for white posts on either side of the river that denote the best footing and widest (i.e., potentially lowest water) crossing. Plenty of camping can be found in this area if you need to dry out.
After crossing Eagle River, the trail generally follows the north side of the river. Just after the crossing you'll traverse an area of sparse, small trees. This area was was covered by the Eagle Glacier in 1900, but has been exposed as it retreated up valley. The trail then rejoins the river in big timber, with frequent short ups-and-downs to cross small creeks that drain the mountains lining the valley. Although there is little elevation loss and gain on this section, footing can be challenging, as the trail tread is very rocky and frequently narrow. Good camping can be found at the other rustic campsites along the creeks flowing into the river.
The area is known to have plenty of wildlife, so bring bear spray in the event they get curious, though most of the black bears along the way tend to run from humans. Pack out everything you bring in and hang your food so the bears aren't tempted to pilfer your camp or pester other trail users.
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Need to Know, Runner Notes, History & Background
Land Manager: Alaska DNR - Parks and Outdoor Recreation