Tanaina Lake Hike is a wonderful way to see two beautiful valleys in the Chugach Mountains. You have the North Fork Campbell Creek Valley on the right and Snowhawk Valley on the left. You can take the Prosepct Heights Trail to Nearpoint, then cross the North Fork Campbell Creek Valley to the north and gain access to the ridgeline that will take you to Knoya and Tiishla, but I would recommend a different route. Crossing the North Fork Cambell Creek Valley is a whole lot of bushwacking that you don't need to do, and you also don't have to pay for parking. You will be crossing onto the Military portion of the Chugach Mountain Range, so I would recommend calling the Fort Richardson Military Police, 907-284-0823, to check and make sure that there are not going to be any Military Exercises going on. I did find some MRE packages up there, so I figure that they do some training in that area...because I know that all of us would not leave any trash behind!
The Trailhead - Basher Rd.
The trailhead is right at those telephone poles. This was taken from the parking lot.
If you drive all the way up Stuckagain Heights Rd which turns into Basher Rd, approximately 5 miles, you will see a parking lot on the lefthand side of the road. There will be a pipe fence blocking you from driving into the Chugach. Park there, climb over the pipe fence and head to the right. That will lead you directly to the trailhead. The first 500 yards of the trail is a pretty decent downhill scurry. It can be realy treacherous in the winter depending on how much snow has fallen.
The Dome Trail
That is The Second Dome in the left background, and The Lookout in the right background
That trail will lead you down to a beautiful little bridge and stream crossing, then a well traveled switch-back trail will take you up to The Dome. There are about 3 really steep pushes, not steep enough to call them climbs, but long enough that you have to push yourself. Otherwise it is a very easy going hike. Count on about 1-1.5 hours to The Dome. Once you get to The Dome you want to head Southeast to The Second Dome. You will actually have a very good view of the The Lookout from The First Dome, and could notice that you can side-hill to the right of The Second Dome and meet up with the Lookout, saving a little time.
The Lookout to Knoya, then Tikishla
This picture is looking back towards The Lookout from Knoya.
Once you get to The Lookout, you cannot mistake the dinosaur back of a ridgeline that will lead you directly to Knoya Peak. Knoya Peak is the very first peak that you get to. Once you start getting close to Knoya, you will start to see Tikisla Peak on you right. You have to take a left at Knoya to get to Tikishla. If you continued past Knoya, without taking the left towards Tikishla, you would end up on Kanchee Peak. You can actually see the Snowhawk Valley cabin once you get on the ridgleline that connects Knoya to Tikishla.
Tikishla to Tanaina Lake
Take a left at that little saddle.
The lake is tucked back perfectly behind Tkishla Peak and Tanaina Peak, but it still gets an amazing amount of sun.
This is what you have to look forward to once you take the left at that little saddle.
Once you get to Tikishla, about 5-6 hours, instead of heading to the right as if you were going to camp at the base of Tikishla, just head left into the valley. I side hilled quite a bit, but you could just head straight down to Snow Hawk Valley. I chose to side hill because Snowhawk Valley looked as if it still had quite a bit of elevation gain from the point the you would end up at if you went straight down. Once you get on your way, just hug the right side of the valley and you will end up at the lake, about 2-2.5 hours from Tikishla. The lake is so clear, you could almost think you could drink straight from it. It is also amazingly warm for beign tucked away at the base of Tanaina Peak. I would definitely suggest side hilling atleast some of the way back to the ridgeline near Tikishla, if you don't, it will be a pretty steep climb.
This is the Mosquito Pond with water in it. It was all dried up when I hiked to Tanaina Lake.
If you look at the base of that big bulge coming off the face of Tikishla, you will see a little dark spot. There is usually a large pool of water there, perfect for refilling. It was dried up on this hike, August 28,2007.
On the way back, there is usually a decent pool of water at the base of Tikishla. Although, when I went to Tanaiana Lake at the end of August, the water there had dried up. There is plenty of water at Tanaina Lake, but if you went earlier in the summer there would be water at the base of Tikishla and also at the Mosquito Pond, which is in between the 2nd Dome and The Lookout.
This was taken on November 27, 2007 from The First Dome. You can see The Lookout and Knoya on the left. Nearpoint is just out of the picture on the right, and that is the North Fork Campbell Creek Valley in the middle.
In the summer...Up until you get to the little saddle near Tikishla where you head down into Snowhawk Valley, there is a nice little foot trail pretty much all the way. From about half way between The Lookout and Knoya, it starts to get a thinner and thinner and more and more rocky. There is always a way around the tippy-top of the big rocks along the way, but then climbing over the big rocks can be pretty fun. Before you get to Knoya and start making you way to Tikishla, if you decide to scurry around the North Fork Campbell Creek Valley side rather than all the way to Knoya, it is covered with a lot of loose scree. I would definitely recommend hitting Knoya and sticking to the ridgeline. Once you get to Tikshla and take the left into Snowhawk Valley, it goes from decent rocky footing, to loose chutes of scree, then to the mossy tundra. You will hit a very large rock bed with big rocks just before you get to the lake. Be careful, a spained ankle would really suck at this point. Of all of the pictures I have put up on this page, they have all been from the Summer of '06 and '07.
In the winter...I haven't done the hike in the winter, so I can't give you much of an overview. I have however been to The First Dome several times this winter, '07-'08. The ridgeline usually looks pretty windblown and very traversable, but no guarantees. Here's a recent picture of the area.
Tanaiana Lake would be a great base camp for a fun 3-4 day trip. There is Knoya Peak,4650ft, that you hit on the way. Tikishla Peak, 5230ft, that you could scramble to on the way, Tanaina Peak, 5207ft, staring at you while you camp, and Temptation Peak, 5350ft, just across Snowhawk Valley. And not to mention the scenery along the way. Plenty of Sheep and Ptarmigan. We also saw a Black Bear from The Lookout when we did Tikishla in July 2007.
Be safe on the trails and let's keep it clean!
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."