Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Backpacking Trip: Nutzotin Traverse (Horsefeld to Solo Creek)
Distance: 30 miles
Approx. hiking time: 6-8 days
Total elevation gain: +7165, -7146
Best season: Late June - early September
Access: Bush flight - McCarthy to Horsefeld
Maps: USGS McCarthy D-1, D-2; Nabesna A-1
Challenges: Moderate stream crossings, route finding
A 6 to 8 day trip through moderate terrain in the northern section of the park with lots of opportunities for side hikes as well as caribou spotting. This is a good route if you are looking for a longer backpacking trip but one that is more in the moderate range. It begins in wide-open tundra and then moves up into the high country giving it a range and variety of terrain that is unique.
The trek is also unusual in that, despite the distance covered, there are no glacier crossings or difficult stream crossings. Though at times challenging, the terrain is not extreme, allowing for a great deal of flexibility in route selection. There are many options for side trips, loops and alternatives along the way.
Allow 8 days for the trip and you can punctuate your backpacking days with some layovers when you can take some day hikes to explore. Or make it a more adventurous Alaska backpacking trip by including side trips along the way.
Another unique aspect is that this route becomes snow free much earlier in the summer than areas like Iceberg Lake, making it a great choice for an extended, early-season Alaska backpacking adventure.
Even detailed route descriptions such as those found in the book are not a substitute for skills and experience. If you would like to do this route but don't feel that you are ready to tackle the Alaskan wilderness on your own, consider a guided trek.
If you are interested in doing this route as part of a guided trek, click here for more information on Hiking in Alaska's Wrangell St. Elias National Park.