Cycling Hatcher Pass West
Ride 25 miles gaining 3,835’ at 2.7% average grade (3.4% climb only)
Summary by Bryant Robbins, Palmer, Alaska.
Hatcher pass from the west side is a mostly gradual scenic climb interspersed with a few ramps in excess of 9%. The last couple of miles to the top are generally above 6%. The climb begins on pavement that ends 11.5 miles from the Parks Highway or approximately 6.5 miles into the climb. The rest of the way to the top is gravel. Each time that we have done this ride the gravel has been well packed and extremely smooth, but we are told it can be quite loose immediately after it has been graded.
The ride begins in the trees and follows Willow Creek upstream until it eventually reaches tree line. In the lower section it has a feel reminiscent of the Upper-Midwest, but this soon changes as you ride higher into the mountains and are surrounded by spectacular alpine scenery. As you near the top, the road begins to switchback up the final slopes to the pass adding even more visual appeal to the already stunning scenery.
This is not a terribly difficult ride but the length and elevation gain do make it a challenge. At the time of writing (February, 20210, there are no services or water anywhere along the climb. The coffee shop at the intersection of the Parks Highway and Wasilla Fishhook Road offers the last chance for beverages and the biggest scoops of ice-cream we have ever seen. Otherwise, continuing over Hatcher Pass and down the very steep east side to the Hatcher Pass Lodge, about a mile and a half ahead, would be the nearest option.
This climb is part of the "Hatcher Pass Epic" (map) which involves riding over Hatcher Pass and down the other side in either direction and then returning to your point of beginning through Wasilla, total loop distance about 92 miles with 6,730’ of climbing. .
Thank you Bryant Robbins and Jill Aho, Palmer, Alaska.