HATCHER PASS, Alaska — From the parking lot, it only takes a few hours to walk to Reed Lakes, high in the Talkeetna Mountains. But it feels like you’ve gone far beyond that – from the earth-bound world below to an alpine wonderland.
This Hatcher Pass hike is a manageable length – seven miles round trip to Lower Reed Lake, and nine miles to Upper Reed Lake. Start at the parking lot off of Archangel Road. After a 1.5 mile ramble along a rushing creek you’ll come upon an old cabin, now a graffiti-covered mess. You’ll then encounter a steep section of switchbacks. The upside? The trail is bordered by blueberry bushes loaded with berries big and fat enough to have come straight from the grocery store - but sweeter. Eat by the handful to propel you up. A few different routes have been carved into the hill here – one wraps to the right, leading you close to another rocky valley. Stay on established paths to prevent further erosion. Our adventuring party found the top of the steep slope an ideal place to pause for a picnic of fig bread and cheese. (Always be careful when carrying food into the Alaskan backcountry.)