Hiking – Eaglecrest Ski Area, 7/21/2019

Hello! It’s been awhile. I’ve decided to come off hiatus because lately I’ve been doing more photography. I played around with creating a photo journal in Google Docs and it occurred to me that the photo journal entry felt like a blog entry. So here we are.

Note: My photos are under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. If you want to do something money-making with them, make me a licensing offer.

Now, for the hiking post.

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This was my second hike at Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, Alaska. My first was only the week before with a visiting nephew. That time we hiked about two hours because we were expected elsewhere.

I started from the Eaglecrest parking lot about 3pm. It was about two hours up and an hour and a half down.

This time I didn’t get a picture of the parking lot or the two lower lodges, but it’s a nice area in the summertime. So my first picture is of the Ptarmigan lift station (see below).

Ptarmigan Lift

Not long after you get out of the parking lot and past the lower lodges and caretaker cabins, you come to the Ptarmigan lift.

Drone Alert

Drone quadcopters have been popular in Alaska for several years, but this is the first time one flew over me while hiking. It could be heard but appeared to maintain a respectable altitude. I assumed there was a camera on board. I do wonder what the operator saw when I had my phone camera pointed at the drone to take its picture. It probably wasn’t even focused on me. Humans in general assume they’re the center of attention.

Snow making machines

I’m not a skier. I haven’t visited a ski resort in winter for decades if ever. So I didn’t recognize these devices at first. I had to read the labels to positively identify them as snow making machines. I think it would be fun to see them in action.

Gateway to Treadwell Ditch Trail?

Shortly after passing by the two lower lodges, I came across this path. I was intent on hiking to the top of the ski trails so I didn’t explore this path. Eaglecrest Ski Area is one terminus of the Treadwell Ditch Trail. I’ve seen it once many years ago but my memory is fuzzy.

Perhaps I’ll explore this trail another time or two.

Climbing up the mountain

Caption: Looking down trail towards Mendenhall Valley

Caption: On Eaglecrest Ski Trail looking towards Juneau Airport Area.

Caption: Getting closer to the top through winding gravel trails

Caption: High enough for alpine ponds.

Caption: The road goes on and on. Upper Eaglecrest weather station in distance.

There are a lot of switchbacks and good views of forest on the Eaglecrest trails. I think I was on Ptarmingain trail. This is one of the situations where I could show you my route if we were there, but it is hard to describe without a map.

From the parking lot, I spent about two hours on wide gravel trails until I reached what I’m calling the rim of the Eaglecrest Bowl and a welcome surprise ….

Eagle’s Nest at Eaglecrest

Caption: Eagle’s Nest Lodge at Eaglecrest Ski Area

Caption: Listing of ski routes available from the Eagle’s Nest Lodge. Diamonds represent the hardest trails.

Caption: View of Eagle’s Nest ski lodge from Pitmann ridge.

I’ve lived in Juneau for 20 years. In part because I’m not a skier, I’ve only had a nodding acquaintance with the Eaglecrest Ski Resort. So I wasn’t prepared to find a whole building at the top of the trail, but it makes sense. An upper lodge/ski patrol station(?) to hang out or select new paths down is completely logical.

The building was mostly shut down. I was thrilled by two amenities apparently available in the off season – working restrooms (with composting toilets) and a picnic bench on the second level of the building, called Eagle’s Nest. The building is also near some alpine hiking trails, so it seems like it would make a good base to hike to, have a meal and then spend time exploring the upper trails before taking an hour and a half hike back down.

I really appreciate the Eaglecrest Ski Trail. It offers views and terrain similar to Mount Roberts parts of Mount Jumbo but wider trails and little hand over hand climbing. So far it seems the easiest non-tram route to alpine areas in Juneau. But there are dozens of trails I have not yet explored.

Views from Eagle’s Nest Trails

There are a few narrow, graveled trails visible from the Eagle’s Nest lodge. I took one that took me onto Pittman’s Ridge and that afforded me some good views.

Caption: Beautiful Vista on Douglas Island.

Caption: Alpine pond on Douglas Island near Eaglecrest Ski area.

Pittman’s Ridge and my first glance over Douglas Island to what lay beyond.

Caption: Looking down into Young Bay and towards “Kootznoowoo,” island meaning “Fortress of the Bear,” Kootznoowoo is the original Tlingit name. It is more commonly called Admiralty Island today but it was Kootznoowoo first.

Final Thoughts

This was a wonderful hike. My only regret is that I didn’t start hiking it 10 years ago (assuming the trails were in place then – I’m not sure). I can’t re-do the past, but I will keep an eye on the weather and attempt to get a few more long hikes at Eaglecrest this season.

This trail provides fantastic alpine views at a lower physical cost than Mt. Roberts (unless you take tram) or Mt. Jumbo. The trails are wide and graveled enough that you don’t need to climb with your hands. It is very much a workout. The trails are gravelled but they are also steep.

Based on this hike, I figure it is two hours to the Eagle’s nest lodge and an hour and a half from their to the parking lot. My plan for my next hike is to bring a more full lunch with me and take like a 20-30 minute break at the Eagle’s Next lodge table or steps, then do an hour’s exploring of Pittman’s ridge and surrounding area. I’ve got a few stops planned like checking out these areas I photographed from afar:

Caption: Crushed cabin? Abandoned platform? Only one way to get more information.