Grizzly Bear Lake

Chugach National Forest
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Submitted By
Martin Olsen
Difficulty
Difficult
Connects With
Miles One Way
9
Miles from Anchorage
50; above Girdwood
Season
June to September

Description

Grizzly Bear Lake hike has been listed in Shepherd and Wozniak’s book, 50 Hikes in Alaska’s Chugach State Park. Their description of the trail is accurate with one possible understatement regarding the steepness of the north side of Paradise Pass. It can be a little tricky, but if you take your time and choose your route carefully, it can be done by most anyone with decent scrambling skills. Once over the pass, it is a very pleasant and straightforward journey to the Lake. More on that in a moment…

The Hike:

Start at Crow Pass trailhead. Go past Crow Pass and exit the trail just before the big drop down into Raven Creek Valley. This is about 1.25 miles past the Crow Pass Cabin. You will need to cross Clear Creek. I found we needed to walk a contour upstream a little ways until a safe snow bridge was found. From there, continue walking a contour (about 3200′) for roughly a mile until you catch Paradise Valley, a hanging valley that heads up to the East. Walk up valley, staying to the right until you see Paradise Pass. It will be the low point in the valley headwall, and it is a steep and barely stable scree slope to the top. The scree is fairly fine so it is not dangerous per se, just a little bit of a pain in the keister.

Drop off Paradise Pass (I angled down to the left and tried to avoid spending any time on the steep snow faces). Once down it is a gentle, rolling moraine walk until you reach a very small lake (un-named, I call it Upper Grizzly Bear Lake). This is a great campsite with a remarkable sense of solitude. To reach GBL itself, continue down valley and be careful descending the boulder moraine which marks the southern edge of the lake. There are many great places to set up camp, and you will see very little evidence of human presence here. For a nice day hike, head up to the peak just north of the lake (5240 on the map). It is a nice ridge climb with awesome views.

Important Information

Coming down off of Paradise Pass is rather steep and unstable. If traveling in a group, ensure that there is enough spacing to avoid rock fall injury. If snow is on the pass, be aware of avalanche risk.

Best to travel in a small group (3 to 5). Only do this alone if you are fully competent in the backcountry. You truly get a sense of isolation at this place, even though you can see some of the peaks of the front range of the Chugach down the North Fork Valley. We saw no grizzly bears but I did run into a blackie during the side hill adventure leading to Paradise Valley.

Topo Map

Grizzly Bear Lake topo map

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