Mt. POW/MIA

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Submitted By
Anonymous
Difficulty
Somewhat Difficult; this trail has a lot of elevation gain in short periods of time. There is not much of a formal trail beyond approximately half mile, just survey tape. Once on the ridge the survey tape markers are few and far in between.
Miles One Way
2
Miles from Anchorage
30; on Eklutna Lake Road
Season
April through October

Description

Mount POW/MIA is a mountain that was dedicated in November of 1999 to any military personnel that have ever been determined as a Prisoner of War or been Missing In Action. This mountain can easily be seen from the Matanuska-Susitna Veterans Memorial. There is a plaque for the mountain there as well. It is the largest and tallest living military monument. For more about the history of the mountain visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_POW/MIA

This hike is quite unknown to the general public and can be difficult. The trail starts just after mile 5 on Eklutna Lake Road. Parking is at Eklutna Lake or at pull-offs along the road. Please do not park in driveways unless permission is granted. To be more specific, electrical pole 85. There is survey tape and somewhat of a rough trail for about the first half mile. The trail disappears into a field and is continued in a draw in the far end of the field. After the majority of the elevation gain to the ridge line, the ridge is followed to the summit of the mountain. At the summit there is a POW /MIA flag, register, and plaque dedicated to James Wesley Widdis, Jr. Northwest of the summit, about 100 feet, if there is little or no snow, is a picnic table for picnicking pleasure.

Important Information

Bring any water needed, there is NO water along the trail.

Be prepared for cold weather. The wind is fierce and VERY cold. Weather can change quickly.

Sheep are common, be careful.

Etc.

If you park at Eklutna Lake you will need to pay the standard Chugach Park fee ($5 – bring exact amount). The price for an annual parking pass is $40. You can purchase a pass at the Federal Building at 4th and F or the Atwood Building on 7th and E, 12th Floor.

Topo Map

Mt. POW/MIA topo map

Comments on hiking Mt. POW/MIA

  1. Valerie — July 4, 2017

    I did this hike yesterday and found the trail head fairly easily, followed the trail to the top of the tree line and open field, then it’s all just that spongey field moss for most of the incline to the ridge. The tall grass is very overgrown this year so we were soaking wet up to our shoulders for the first half mile or so. The survey tape was very helpful. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS TRAIL IF THERE IS NO VISIBILITY. We should’ve opted to do this hike another day due to the dense fog and cloud, but we are experienced hikers so we thought we’d be okay taking it on for the first time.

    The descent must be done exactly as you ascent. It’s very, very easy to get turned around up there, as there are many other peaks and valleys that could possibly lead you miles down the opposite side of the mountain on an animal trail. Because there was dense cloud cover that very rarely gave us more than 15 feet of vision, we had no choice but to wing it and try to keep our bearings. If it weren’t for my the Maps app on my iPhone (surprisingly), we would’ve been 100% lost and had to have State Troopers come find us (which is very common on this hike apparently).

    Lesson of the day: Do not attempt a new hike if there is no visibility. I’m sure it’s usually a breathtakingly beautiful hike and the monument at the summit was awesome, but yesterday it wasn’t worth the possibility of not making it back.

  2. John Waychoff — July 7, 2016

    Great hike on June 30th, 2016. I recommend bug dope, a machete, a few bottles of water, binoculars and camera. Tighten your tennis shoes before leaving the asphalt. You might want footwear that offers ankle support. If you look at the ground there is a trail to follow through the woods and foliage. If you don’t look down then the dirt trail won’t serve you long because dense overgrowth is everywhere on and off the trail. There is a better route than that marked on the topo above the tree line. About 200 yards up the trail above the tree line head off to the left up the cut. The foliage in to your left will look dense compared to anything else around you. We found this to be an easier way down without all of the loose rocks and shale. 2/3 the way up bear right by 45 degrees then head directly toward the ridge. I will mark the easier route my next hike. If climbing you will arrive on the same end of the ridge just opposite sides. Someone went to the trouble of putting picnic tables up there but they did not weather winters well and are now scattered about in pieces. We were able to look down into the saddle between the flags and Twin Peaks where we observed sheep napping in the rocks. We took several photos to include one of a grizzly above the tree line on the way down. The bear didn’t stop foraging nor did it appear to pay any attention to us. Sliding down the mountain on our butts was fun. Maintaining a straight line was a challenge.

  3. Kirk Alkire — June 11, 2013

    Incredibly rewarding hike with spectacular views of the Chugach Range as well as McKinley.

    Hiked it on 8 June 2013 to replace the flag at the summit. Trail was almost completely dry with only a few patches of snow towards the summit.

  4. The following was submitted by Katrina:

    The mile post marker is correct. However, the trail wasn’t clearly marked with a ribbon; it’s actually to the right of the ribbon. It is true that it’s a half mile straight up followed by an open field. Once to the open field it wasn’t really open. It was overgrown with fireweed in full bloom. This is where it becomes difficult; which far end of the field? We hiked through the fireweed for a bit on what we thought may have been a manmade trail only to discover that we were probably on a animal trail. After a bit of time we decided to climb up on a ridge and get a better view. Here we saw a trail veering off to the right of the field going up a steep incline. We hiked around a bit more, but decided that it was getting late and turned around. We did see a few hikers on what appeared to be POW-MIA. I hope this helps.

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