Commonly Backpacked · Lake · River/Creek · Swimming · Views · Waterfall
The Reed Lakes Trail is a very scenic trail that meanders up the glacier-carved Reed Creek Valley up to the lower and upper Reed Lakes. The low grade and the abundance of water makes this trail a very popular backpacking trail. This is also the shortest route to Bomber Glacier, which is the site of the TB-29 plane crash in 1957, and also one of the possible routes for the Bomber Traverse.
Need to Know
Parking at the trailhead requires a $5 parking fee per day or an annual Alaska State Parks pass.
This trail has an intermediate/difficult rating due to required boulder hopping and route finding.
While access to Bomber Glacier is not described here, I should point out that significant receding of the glacier has made the descent onto Bomber Glacier quite difficult. There are two fixed lines to help ascend and descend a tough, exposed scramble, but the quality of the rope and anchors used may or may not be adequate.
The trail begins off of Archangel Road, which at times may not be accessible due to a variety of reasons and will significantly increase the flat mileage to reach Reed Lakes. The trailhead parking lot is also difficult to navigate due to large exposed rock throughout the lot. With that said, the first 2 miles from the trailhead is quite nice and flat but can be quite muddy. You'll encounter old mine ruins as you travel alongside Reed Creek.
After you reach an old wooden sign showing the trail to Reed Lakes (the other trail goes up to Snowbird but it is not marked), the trail begins to climb with some nice switchbacks. As you make your way up, boulders begin to appear, and the trail becomes a bit more difficult to follow. There are multiple stream crossing locations starting at about 3000 feet and there may be a bit of route finding. Eventually, you'll want to be on the left (west) side of the creek when the valley opens up and the boulders across the creek become more sparse.
Continuing up, you'll past wetted areas that I assume are created by dams in the creek, and after mile 3, you'll catch your first glimpses of lower Reed Lake. Some may say that this is the most scenic section of the run as you have the lake surrounded by an amphitheater of mountain walls, with a waterfall off in the distance further up the trail. There are plenty of at-large camping sites here.
Going past the lower lake, the trail will climb again and there are a couple of waterfalls along the trail. Eventually, after you pass the bend around mile 4, you'll see the upper Reed Lake. Here, you are surrounded by boulder fields and ridge lines full of spires and gendarmes, and you'll sort of forget that you're in Alaska.
Shared By: Abe H