Devil’s Pass

Chugach National Forest
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Difficulty
Somewhat Easy; don't be put off by the name; a very gradual gain in elevation the first 6- miles, then pretty much even.
Miles One Way
10
Miles from Anchorage
80; just past the Summit Lodge
Season
June to October (avalanche danger any other time!)

Description

The weekend when I did this hike, it was one of those Alaskan, weird weather days. It would go from drizzly and cold to warm and dry within minutes and kept changing back and forth all day. Sometimes I was out sitting on the tundra; five minutes later I was in my tent under the sleeping bag. Still, it was a really great hike and it was one of the most scenic and enjoyable new trails that I’ve done in awhile.

When I first moved here in 2000, I heard it was overgrown and a real hassle. In 2004, there was a complete cleanup and overhaul of the trail. There was no excuse now but to check it out. Of course, with a name like Devil’s Pass, I assumed my butt would be whupped by the time I got up to the Pass – a trail with the same name in the Shenandoah’s lives up to its rep! – but it was very easy, and a group with young hikers would not have a problem but for the distance. Most of the trail is wide and smooth, which is nice because you can really focus on the scenery.

This is one of the few hikes in the Chugach National Forest that you don’t have to walk under canopy for miles before getting great views. The trail basically goes up a deep “V” notched valley with lush forest slowly converting to tundra as one goes higher. The trail follows the upper ridgeline of one side of the valley (it switches over to the other side the last 2 miles). Midway is a waterfall, that if it wasn’t cold, I would have ducked under for a great refreshing break. Because you’re up high, you get great views of the valley and the surrounding Kenai Mountains. The scenery is awesome and non-stop and gets better and better as you climb up. The views look great coming down as well.

Eventually, as you get into tundra, the valley opens up and you are officially at the Pass. There is another valley immediately to the right. Next time I come, I plan on heading into it and camping by the hidden tarns for some real solitude. The Pass is filled with a lot of tussocks but the trail makes the passing smooth. Once we got to the Pass, my dog had a ball chasing the tons of marmots hanging around. We could hear them whistling all day and night.

You then come on Devil Lake which is a megopolis for beavers! Starting with the first lake and going for miles into the the Resurrection Pass Trail is a network of dams and dens. It’s pretty awesome. Ironically, for all my backpacking and being out in the wilderness, I’ve never actually seen a beaver, even though I’ve seen their homes for years. Well, while camping at the lake that night, I finally saw one swimming around. I was surprised how small it was because I thought they were much bigger. About 15 minutes later, another beaver came by and I realized that it was one of the parents and that the beaver I was watching was one of its kits. Both kept on flapping their spatula tails against the water as a warning to others that I was nearby. I even got to see them swimming the next day.

Speaking of the lake, I had hiked all the way to the end of the trail where it meets with the Resurrection Pass Trail. The view is gorgeous and there is a very cool A-frame cabin (although why they didn’t place it with the windows looking out on the views, I’ll never know). Unfortunately, I didn’t find a really good place to put the tent up and the designated site a mile down sucks! So I hiked back to the lake and camped on the side opposite the trail. It was soft tundra and very inviting.

The trail would make a great, almost-loop hike with Resurrection Pass and Summit Creek Trail. If you didn’t have another car, the two trailheads are only 3 miles apart on the Seward Highway. An overview link is provided on the Map Page. Car-wise, this would be a lot easier to deal with than the whole Resurrection Pass Traverse. You can do more of the Pass than just the section between the other two trails.

Biking looks awesome! I hope to try it some day!

Important Information

Like I said above, this is serious beaver country: filter your water!

If you’re going in early June, check with Ranger Station first to see if there is too much snow, and therefore avalanche danger. Link above to their official website on my Parks page. You want the Seward District.

There is a designated campsite 1/2 way up but since you’re in the woods, I’d make the commitment to the lake.

There were no good places to tie up food and this is definitely bear country You may want to bring a bear proof canister. However, at the designated site at Resurrection Pass, there is a metal bear box.

To reserve the cabin, go to Recreation.gov.

Etc.

If you’d like to learn about beavers, go here.

Interesting geological note: valleys carved by glaciers are “U” shaped and valleys carved by creeks are “V” shaped.

I hear great things about the food at Summit Lodge but I have not partaken myself. The state campground behind it is really nice.

Topo Map

Devil’s Pass topo map

Comments on hiking Devil’s Pass

  1. Rachel Boudreau — September 7, 2015

    We just went through Resurrection Pass this weekend (and it was beautiful!), we also camped at the campsite not too far down from the cabin. There was plenty of room to set up a tent (a few others trickled in later), a bear box and even a backcountry toilet! We thought it was a great place to camp (assuming you don’t mind sharing at times), we’ve run into a lot of human waste on the trails this summer, so we appreciate the work that was put into this trail and this site.

  2. L. Hood — April 28, 2015

    Mid April 2015. I had hiked this trail 3 times in early April 2015 to the first camp site. It was muddy and wet. I decided to go to the camp site near the mid way point. The trail was a bit less wet than the few other times I hiked it. When I got to about the 2 mile mark it started snowing. By the time I hit the 3 mile mark there was 2 inches of snow on the trail. I decided to keep going and by mile 4 there was about 5 inches of snow. Soon after the 4 mile mark I ran into an avalanche shoot full of snow. I could make out the trail on the other side but could not navigate the shoot to the other side. It was time to turn and head back. As soon as I turned I heard an avalanche on the other side of the valley. I could not see it but it was loud. The bottom line is I should not have been that far on the trail with that much snow still on the mountains. I will try again after the snow is melted.

  3. The following was submitted by Jessica N. regarding the Summit Creek/Devil’s Pass Loop:

    I did the Devil’s Pass/Summit Creek loop hike yesterday (8/17/06) starting from the Devil’s Creek Trailhead. The hike up to the pass was gorgeous with tons of berries along the side of the trail. The trail wasn’t too muddy and the views are amazing. Tons and tons of marmots up by the lake. The Devil’s Pass fee cabin is currently undergoing renovation and will probably be closed for the rest of the season. I had a bit of trouble finding the turn off for the Summit Creek trail and ended up hiking an extra hour past the junction (ah well, more great views). Here’s a hint: When hiking north on the Resurrection Pass trail, look for a little side trail cutting back and to the right. It is just BEFORE the “Resurrection Pass 2,600 feet” wooden sign. If you get to the sign, you’ve missed it. The Summit Creek trail had even better scenery than Devil’s Pass. It was pretty overgrown once you get out of the tundra (still easy to follow, but prepare to get soaked if it has recently rained!) and VERY muddy (I ended up with mud to my knee with one misstep!). The best part about this hike was that, in 11 hours, I saw three other people! Definitely a must do hike for anyone headed to the peninsula!

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