Wildlife Hiking in South Central Alaska

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Crow Pass Trail is a 24 mile one way traverse starting at either Eagle River or Girdwood that will bring many wildlife sightings, glaciers, bridges, creek crossings and the halfway point entitles the hiker to cross Eagle River, which stems from Eagle Glacier.

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First Sighting of Eagle River

I decided to undertake this challenge starting at Eagle River, making it to Girdwood and then turning around and completing the 48 mile hike in 3 days and 2 nights. On my journey I saw wildlife ranging from Black Bears to Dall Sheep and a Cow with her Calf stopping me dead in my tracks. On the side of the trail I saw no less than a dozen spots where a bear had laid down and scat from various wildlife.

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Black Bear Cub

Starting off in Eagle River there is vast vegetation making it very habitable for bears and I found myself often clutching my Mossberg Maverick 12 gauge loaded with 000 bear shot. Several times I could hear rustling around in the brush ahead of me so I starting singing one of my favorite Tom Petty songs just to let the animal know that I was approaching as to not startle it. Except one black bear encounter with a sow and her cubs,and one moose encounter of a cow and her calf.

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Another cub sighting shortly after

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Beautiful view from the Eagle River side

After I ran into the bruins the trail opened up a bit and I could hear movement on the trail. I could tell it was not a fellow outdoors men because of how fast it was moving through the brush. My singing didn’t deter it either so with Mossberg in hand I cautiously turned the corner only to find this:

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This cow and her calf were dead in the middle of the trail. At one point they started feeding toward me and I yelled “HEY MOOSE” several times before it seemed to catch wind of me and before I could get another shout out they were off into the wilderness faster than lighting.

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View looking down on Eagle River before crossing to the Girdwood Side. 

After crossing Eagle River I got this breath taking shot of the trail I had just come from. I was ready to cross over to the Girdwood side.

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After making the 24 mile march to Girdwood I decided to take a brief nap before I started my 12 mile march back to Eagle River where I would set up camp for the night before setting off for the last 12 miles of the adventure.

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Eagle River with the sunset in the background. 

When I woke up at 0700, I snapped this photo of the crossing where everyone must cross to get to the other side of the trail.

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Eagle River 

After the crossing and a few hours of hiking I knew I was close to the trailhead when I spotted these camping spots, creeks and make shift bridges.

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This traverse was a very enlighting experience and if you are in the area I highly suggest you set aside a couple days to do this hike. If you have two vehicles, most people will drop one off at either Eagle River or Girdwood and then have a friend drive them back to the other trail head so that when they have completed the hike their vehicle is there waiting. Unless you are a true Alaskan of course, then you will be able to do the 48 mile hike with no assistance at all. Make sure to be aware of all the wildlife, especially on the Eagle River side where the brush can get very dense. If in doubt sing, talk to yourself make noise and DO NOT scare any animals as they can become aggressive. Enjoy the Alaskan Wilderness!

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