Hatcher Pass is a specimen of glacial activity. The craggy peaks, sweeping valleys, and turquoise-blue lakes converge to make for one fantastic playground—one that moose, caribou, sheep, black and brown bears, wolf, coyote, beaver, fox, hare, squirrels, marmots and lynx, and hordes of birds call home.
From Palmer (a short 30-mile drive from Anchorage), the drive to the trailhead meanders alongside Reed River, which cascades down from the two alpine lakes tucked along the trail. Renowned mainly for its relatively moderate hiking trail, Reed Lakes is also one of Anchorage’s favorite bouldering areas, offering up a significant sampling of trad and sport routes as well, all featuring delightfully sharp granite. At the 2-mile point, visitors will stumble upon the old abandoned Snowbird Mine, a site in itself, but also the landmark denoting the start of the stellar bouldering.
This trail is also popular as a backpacking trip. Though the majority of the camping can be found around Lower Reed Lake, there are several picturesque sites situated on the banks of Upper Reed Lake. Regardless of where you pitch a tent (or spread your getup out under the stars) it’s imperative to bring along bear spray and bear-proof food containers. Truly, there’s hardly anything more magical than waking up next to a misty blue lake surrounded by craggy cirques after a night under the midnight sun.
Though dogs are allowed on the trail, and it’s typically marked as kid friendly, be aware that any adverse weather conditions could greatly increase the difficulty of travel for both. Several miles into the trail, a large boulder field requires both a bit of route finding and boulder hopping.