McCarthy Road/Hikes Wrangell-St Elias Park July 9-11,2009

On July 8th, we travelled up the first 12 miles of McCarthy Road to hike into 3 lakes looking for somewhere to paddle. We couldn’t find a location close enough to road to get kayaks to lake.  This section of the road was probably the roughest part of the whole road. We had decided not to take our camper on this road. We planned to stay at a lodge in McCarthy and enjoy restaurant meals for 2 days while we visited  the Kennicott Copper Mine and took a guided tour on the Root Glacier.

McCarthy is a town about 5 miles before you reach the mine town of Kennicott. Miners used to visit McCarthy to let off steam after they were paid. The National Park Service and others are retoring the Kennicott area to preserve this historic cooper mining town. Very few people inhabit this area full time. Those that do are interesting characters.

The towns are only accessible to tourists by town/lodge shuttle services that pick you up at a footbridge at the end of the McCarthy road. The whole trip there is a return to another era as well as a visit to two glaciers – Kennicott and Root Glaciers that are located right there.

McCarthy Road has been improved substantially in the last few years. Its ruggedness now consists in the length of the washboard gravel road – 60 miles of this road certainly leaves you with a disdain for gravel, dust and ruts. It is worth the trip but I wouldn’t bring any RV other than a pickup camper. Staying overnight at the Backpacker Hotel ($28 per person dormitory style)  is a cheaper alternative to the 2 lodging options in McCarthy/Kennicott. The trip in took us about 4 hours one way but could be done in 2-3 hours.

The National Park Service talks and tour of Kennicott Cooper Mine were a very interesting. The mine processing buildings were in good enough shape to give you a complete picture of what went on there and how the people lived there. 

This posting has picture of the towns, views along McCarthy Road and the hikes we took.

The next posting will have pictures of our Root Glacier Adventure and the kayak paddle we took on Long Lake at the McCarthy 30 mile mark (Approx.).

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