The Wayfarers - vacations and travel

Alaska

Alaska, United States

from $4,395* per person 9 Days August
Boutique accommodations Exertion level: 3
Operator: The Wayfarers 16 people max
  • Airport near anchorage, ak, united states
  • Active & Adventure trips
Remote trails through landscapes shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and storms, almost perpetual daylight and the chance of hearing distant wolves make this Walk a truly amazing experience.

We visit the Independence Mine Historical site, once one of Alaska's most productive gold mines, and cruise the pristine waters of the Kenai Fjords National Park and watch out for orcas! Walking part of the National Historical Iditarod Trail takes us deep into Eagle River's Nature Center, where tiny birds will alight on your hand.

Everyone enjoys the dog-sled ride, and we will get to meet champion Alaskan Husky sled dogs and their puppies.

Locations visited/nearby

Alaska, United States

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Itinerary

Sunday

We meet in Anchorage and drive to a Musk Ox Farm in Palmer for a guided tour. After the tour we continue to the remote Knik River Lodge for our welcome drink. After we get acquainted over cocktails we have dinner at the lodge.
Overnight: Knik River

Monday

This morning we visit Eklutna Historical Heritage Park. The park is located in the Dena’aina Athabaskan village of Eklutna, an original Native village. Archaeological evidence tells us the cemetery has been used since 1650. Russian Orthodox Missionaries converted the Natives to the orthodoxy in 1840s. The spirit houses and the tiny St. Nicholas Orthodox Church have become poignant and illustrative favorites in South Central Alaska.
After the visit to Eklutna we visit Independence State Mine where we will enjoy a guided hike of the Independence Mine Historical site. The Mine was one of Alaska’s most productive gold mines in its heyday but was shut down in 1943 due to World War II. Those who wish to explore the buildings on their own may do so, while others of us can hike up to Gold Cord Lake on the other side of the valley. This is a pleasant hike that will take only about an hour but you’ll have spectacular views of the Mine and Matanuska Valley and the alpine lake is a perfect example of remote alpine wilderness.
We retire to the Knik River Lodge for dinner and a lovely evening in remote Alaska. If you are still feeling energetic, after dinner you can go for a walk in the area. There is a 3 mile trail at the edge of the property that takes guests within a mile from the Knik glacier. (Remember it is daylight until early morning hours.)
Overnight: Knik River

Tuesday

This morning it is a short drive to Eagle River’s Nature Center for an 8 mile loop of easy hiking. The Center is about a half hour drive north of downtown Anchorage. Keep an eye out for wildlife: dragon flies, birds, sign of bears, beavers, moose – we may even hear wolves! We will be walking along the National Historical Iditarod Trail to a turnoff to Dew Mound. The hike takes us through dense forest to a secluded pond that is popular with dragon flies and several types of birds, the smallest of which will land in your hand. From here we walk to Dew Mound and on to Echo Bend. Echo Bend overlooks the Eagle River and up into Crow Pass. It’s an AMAZING view!
We will enjoy a picnic lunch as we look up into the valley and think about the explorers and miners who used to use the Iditarod Trail before the train was built. From Echo Bend we’ll walk along the Iditarod Trail back to the Eagle River’s Nature Center for a look in the visitor center. We continue to our hotel in Anchorage to relax before dinner. Everybody needs to turn in early as we have an early train to catch in the morning!
Overnight: Anchorage

Wednesday

All aboard the Anchorage to Seward Alaska Railroad for our Kenai Fjords Tour. We have an early wake up call because we’ll be catching the train at the historic Anchorage depot for a 6:45 departure. The Alaska Railroad takes us along one of the most beautiful routes in Alaska. We travel around downtown Anchorage, into Turnagain Arm and through the Chugach National Forest to Seward. The trip is beautiful no matter what your mode of transportation, but the train is especially lovely as it takes you into territory accessible only by train. Seward is a harbor town founded in 1903 by the Alaska Central Railroad. It was the starting point of construction of what is now the Alaska Railroad, which runs from Seward to Fairbanks, 500 miles into the interior. The spot was perfect for bringing supplies and equipment to Alaska because of its year-round ice-free, deep water harbor which sits on Resurrection Bay.
We arrive around 11:00 am and walk the very short distance to the boat harbor, where we board a cruise boat and begin our tour of the beautiful Kenai Fjords National Park. A cruise through the pristine waters of Resurrection Bay is the only way to experience much of this park. A National Park Service Ranger will be on board to explain how the landscape was shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and storms through the centuries. The boat will take you near large bird rookeries, glaciers and sea lion colonies. Be sure to keep a look out for Orcas! The puffins are favorites to watch. We’ll have a lunch of fresh Alaska salmon or prime rib on the boat. After the four hour cruise, we’ll come back to Seward and walk to our hotel where our bags will be waiting for us in our rooms. This evening we dine in a local restaurant in Seward.
Overnight: Seward

Thursday

The day begins with a short drive from Seward to Exit Glacier Visitor Center where we will hike to the glacier. This is the only part of Kenai Fjords Park accessible by road. We’ll talk to a National Park Service Ranger about how the glacier carved the valley and how plant life takes over as glaciers recede. After lunch we leave for Mitch Seavey’s Kennels. Mitch Seavey is a lifelong Alaskan and Iditarod Champion. The Iditarod, also known as the Last Great Race, is the ultimate test of musher and sled dog. It is run every year to commemorate the Iditarod Serum Run of 1925 which was necessitated by the diphtheria epidemic that nearly wiped out the gold rush town of Nome, Alaska – 1,100 miles from Seward! The Seaveys will take us on a ride behind a specially designed Alaskan Husky summer sled. You will meet the mushers, dog handlers and the Alaskan Husky sled dogs and cuddle their puppies. This is an experience you’ll never forget. When we’re able to pry everyone away from the puppies, we’ll go back to Seward. There will be time for strolling along the historic downtown Seward to peruse the shops, visit the Alaska Sea Life Center or enjoy the view at the harbor.
Overnight: Seward

Friday

This morning we hike the 10 mile Gull Rock trail which skirts the edge of the mountain along Turnagain Arm.  The trail is a very modest elevation gain of about 500 feet and lined with Alaska’s most beautiful and typical flora – spruce, birch, alder, Devil’s Club, and wildflowers. We’ll probably see bald eagles. We can look for Beluga whales in the Arm and we will no doubt see signs of bears. This is the longest hike of the week, but an amazing one and we can hear the ocean most of the way and enjoy the views across the Arm and into Cook Inlet. It affords views from the south side of Turnagain Arm and starts at the west end of a small town called Hope. The Hope/Sunrise area was one of the most heavily populated areas of Alaska in the late 1800s – about 5,000 people lived here in the mining heyday, which is hard to believe when you see what’s left. There are a few homes here, and a small, very authentic main street. The place is rife with history and beauty. The trail was originally a corduroy road to a mine and the road is still visible in places. There are ruins of an old cabin and some outbuildings very near the Gull Rock itself. We will have a pack lunch at Gull Rock.
We return to Hope for an Old Fashioned Alaskan Salmon Bake at the Hope Social Hall where a local historian will join us for dinner and tell us a lot about the town. If you are energetic enough after the long day, we will have a tour the town while the salmon is baking. It’s a small town (10 or 12 buildings) so we wouldn’t need much energy, but it’s a chance for us to see “the real Alaska” that has been touched by very little tourism. After dinner, we’ll make the 45 minute drive to the other side of Turnagain Arm to our hotel in Girdwood. This is a small resort town which began as a mining community and pre-dates Anchorage. It sits in a glacially carved valley, surrounded by mountains which are topped by seven glaciers.
Overnight: Girdwood

Saturday

There is not as much walking this day and it will probably be time for a welcome rest after the previous days hiking. The destinations are very interesting though and should not be missed when visiting this part of Alaska! Portage is about 10 miles from Girdwood. We start the day at the Portage Glacier Begich Boggs Visitor Center at the edge of Portage Lake. The Visitors Center has a lot of interesting information and we will talk with a United States Forest Service Ranger about glaciers in Alaska. The only way to see Portage Glacier is on an hour long boat tour that takes us up close and personal with the glacier – we may even see it calve! After the boat ride, we will walk less than a mile to the Byron Glacier trailhead for a 1.5 mile round trip to the snowfields. We get a close-up view of the glacier as we stand next to the blue ice and even look for ice worms if the day is cool or cloudy. Ice worms live in snowfield ice and eat the algae that live on the outside of the ice. During cool, cloudy days they come to the surface to dine. Lots of people don’t believe they exist, but the US Forest Service Rangers will be happy to tell you they do! We will enjoy a packed lunch at one of the picnic areas along Portage.
After lunch we drive two miles to the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. This is not a zoo – it is an area where wild animals are kept in large confined areas that are as close to their natural habitat as possible. Your photos will look like you saw the critters out in the wild. The Center protects orphaned or injured animals that are ineligible for reintroduction to the wild. Currently the center is home to bears, moose, caribou, Sitka deer, lynx, bald eagles, etc. It’s fun to see them act as if they were in the wild…..and still be a safe distance! The Center has interpreters who will tell us about the animals. Dinner will be at the Double Musky in Girdwood – an Alaskan institution!
Overnight: Girdwood

Sunday

This is our last full day of adventure and it will be very rewarding. The trail begins right behind the Alyeska Prince Hotel in Girdwood and takes us into a dense, primeval rainforest. Round trip it’s about 6 miles with an elevation gain of 260 feet. Taking in the Gorge itself is beautiful, and a nice place to stop for a rest. The trail continues over the narrow creek on a sturdy bridge to the hand-tram. This is a really fun component – two or three people go over Crow Creek in the basket at a time (If you do not wish to be so brave, we can make arrangements for those who wish not to use the hand tram to go back to the trailhead from the Gorge where you can catch The Wayfarers transportation to our next stop, Crow Creek Mine, which is accessible by a short drive on the highway and dirt road.) After the hand tram adventure, we will walk another mile to Crow Creek Mine.
This beautiful spot was once a very active gold mine and is still home to limited commercial mining. In fact, it was featured on NBC TV’s “America’s Toughest Jobs” which aired during the summer of 2008. We’ll have lunch in the 100-year-old Mess Hall. The mine is still owned by an old Alaska family, who live there year round (with no electricity!). Nate, the Crow Creek Mine Manager who lives at the Mine, will give us a personal tour and teach us to pan for gold. You are invited to pan for gold at the creek if you wish. After trying to find the lucky golden nugget, we walk the three miles back to the hotel. We ride the tram to the top of Alyeska (the ski mountain) for dinner at the Seven Glaciers restaurant with spectacular views of the seven glaciers that surround Girdwood.
Overnight: Girdwood

Monday

After breakfast we head back towards Anchorage stopping first at Potter Marsh Wildlife Refuge where we look for moose, bald eagles, water birds, and spawning salmon.  After the short walk we head back to Anchorage where we sadly say farewell.

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