Exploring the Resurrection Pass Trail in Alaska

Since moving up to Alaska, I have learned a few things about mountain biking here and how it differs from riding in the lower 48. Chief among these lessons is that you don’t have as much trail beta accessible online as elsewhere in the country, so the act of finding new trails has a decidedly more old-school feel about it. After speaking to a handful of riders here in Anchorage, I kept hearing about trails out on the Kenai Penninsula, with Resurrection Pass being mentioned several times. Intrigued, I turned to our own trails database to find that a GPS map had not yet been uploaded. Time for me to respond to the call of duty and provide guidance for you, our loyal readership!

Cruising along the creek
Cruising along the creek

I ended up finding an old book (how quaint, books!) titled Mountain Bike Alaska: 49 Trails in the 49th State by Richard Larson that had a description of the Resurrection Pass trail, and after reading it, it was decided that this would be the first big Alaskan ride that I would tick off my list in my attempt to flesh out Singletracks’ trail database. Luckily for me, the planned date to ride the trail in Alaska’s narrow seasonal window coincided with a visit from a good buddy of mine who happens to shred quite hard and also shares my affinity for steel hardtails.

And much shredding was had
And much shredding of gnar was had

The Resurrection Trail connects the small (think: three roads small) town of Hope with Cooper Landing via a 39-mile trail through the Chugach Mountains. The trail can be run in either direction, but we decided to go from North to South, which pit us against a gradual, and seemingly never-ending, 18.8-mile climb to the trail’s 2,600-foot summit. After the grind up, we were told that the climbing would mellow out a bit and that the ride would be all downhill. In spite of this, we still found a number of steep ascents that challenged the legs and the lungs, as well as make me question my choice of a 34 tooth chainring for the ride.

Just about out of the woods, though still in the midst of a grueling climb
Just about out of the woods, though still in the midst of a grueling climb

Starting from just outside of Hope, you’ll ride along Resurrection Creek for several miles before reaching dense forest and settling in for the real climb of the trip. Over the next 15 miles, you’ll pedal up a gradual grade (with punchy climbs interspersed for good measure) through dense forests, eventually opening up to a vast valley, which may remind you more of Iceland than Alaska. The tundra section may require a few instances of hike-a-bike, as knee-deep snowdrifts were still present into early June. There are a number of fast, technical sections in the tundra where the trail crosses over the meandering Resurrection Creek. After the blast through the tundra, riders will find themselves descending through high alpine meadows and into a challenging section of rock gardens before returning back to dense forest.

The alpine tundra was unlike anything I had experienced on bike before
The alpine tundra offered some of the best riding that I’ve ever experienced

Eventually, the trail widens into doubletrack and presents the rider with one last uphill grind before rewarding them with 4.5 miles of fast, flowy, downhill goodness. After ~34 challenging miles, ripping through the woods was a surreal experience and will make you realize why you pedal all the way out into the backcountry, deal with dehydration, plod through snowbanks and thick mud, suffer through leg cramps, and put yourself into generally compromising situations. Because nothing quite compares to a good day on the bike, and few trails drive that point home quite as well as the Resurrection Trail does.

Stacking steel on summit signs
Stacking steel on summit signs
Giving the Transition a wash
Giving the Transition a wash
Be sure to stop and take in the views when you can
Be sure to stop and take in the views when you can!

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