Wrangell St. Elias National Park
Backpacking Trip: The Goat Trail (Skolai Pass to Wolverine Mountain )
Distance: 25 miles
Approx. hiking time: 5-7 days
Total elevation gain: +5709, -4989
Best season: July - early September
Access: Bush flight - McCarthy to Skolai Pass
Maps: USGS McCarthy C-3, C-4
Challenges: Difficult stream crossings, steep scree slopes
A variation on the traditional Goat Trail, this route is even better because it stays in the high country all the way to the end at Wolverine. Challenges on this exceptional Alaska backpacking route are similar to the Goat Trail although this variation avoids the sometimes difficult crossing of Toby Creek.
The route begins at Skolai Pass and continues down Chitistone valley. One section of the route includes traversing on steep scree slopes. There is a path across the slopes but it is thin and not maintained. Some may find the exposure to be more than they care to take on. It is not uncommon for people to turn back when confronted with the scree slopes so if you don't feel confident then go with a guide who is experienced on the route.
Once beyond the scree slopes the traditional Goat Trail route drops down to the Chitistone but this variation heads up into the Hasen creek area where dozens of dall sheep can be spotted munching on the grasses there.
You will enjoy some unique backpacking terrain on this trip which passes through some geologically interesting country with evidence of former volcanic activity. There is an area around the upper Hasen creek basin where the hilltops are littered with tiny geodes. Fossils are also sometimes seen, though you should leave those for others to enjoy.
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 the Goat Trail in Alaska's Wrangell St. Elias National Park.