Sunday, July 7, 2013

Ptarmigan Creek Trail and Campground

As a base close to the Lost Lake/Primrose Trails, Ptarmigan Creek Campground worked out very well, just 10 minutes or so from the Primrose Trailhead.  It is a quiet little campground--16 fairly private sites and not very busy the night we were there a couple days before the 4th of July.  We stayed in this campground before years ago, maybe even on our visit to Alaska before we moved here, and I recalled a trail heading out of the campground that I wanted to check out.  So once we got registered for the night, we packed up a backpack with snacks and rain gear and headed out.

We didn't know how long the trail was...or how difficult.  Luckily the trail was very moderate with just rolling hills as it traversed first the river bottom along Ptarmigan Creek and then the hillsides as the trail cut across mountains towards the source of the creek:  Ptarmigan Lake.  The first section of the trail was in amazing condition:  a fresh bed of gravel contained by wood boards on each side.  I can think of only a few trails that are this nice of all the trails I've hiked in Alaska.  After a cutoff to either the lake or a mine road, the trail became the typical Alaska trail:  a single dirt track with lots of plants hanging over it--Alaska's summer jungle.  Some overgrowth is worse than others (like pushki that causes blister burns, or grass that towers over our heads), but this was not bad and we only noticed it in a few places.

It was evening, we hadn't had dinner yet and we didn't know how far the trail went, but with our typical stubbornness, we persisted.  Having hiked in the mountains before, we saw the signs that looked like there was a lake around the next curve of the mountain.  Sure enough, it was, there, but it still took us 30 minutes to get there from the time we spotted it.

Ptarmigan Lake--a gorgeous, glacial blue alpine lake 3 1/2 miles long
There was a sweet little campsite along the lake near the outlet where it turned into a river (the picture above was taken from it).  We snacked there, appreciating the serene beauty before heading back up the 3 1/2 miles to the campground.  We discovered later when we got back to the trailhead (we'd started from a cutoff in the campground so hadn't actually started from the trailhead) that Ptarmigan Lake is 3 1/2 miles long and there are 4 campsites along it:  one at the spot we were at, another nearby, one halfway along the lake and another at the far tip of the lake.  OH NO!  That means we have to go back and hike it again because we actually only went halfway--the prettiest half of the trail, along the lake, is the part we missed.

Honestly, though, this trail is going to be on my destination list again.  It is a gem.  The trail is easy and the lake is beautiful, with hanging glaciers gracing the peaks above it.  Even Denver told me to remind him to bring it up with his Boy Scout troop as a potential trip.  So our evening excursion proved fruitful and enjoyable, and the rain which had been pelting us when we pulled into the campground held off so we stayed dry.  This little adventure ended well.

No comments: