Plan Your Visit to the Pinnell Mountain Trail
The Pinnell Mountain Trail is easily reached via the Steese Highway, a maintained gravel highway leading northeast from Fairbanks to the Yukon River. Eagle Summit, the more distant of the two trailheads, is approximately a 2.5-hour drive from Fairbanks under good driving conditions.
Eagle Summit Wayside includes a parking area, vault toilet, interpretive panels, and trash receptacles. Twelvemile Summit Wayside has a parking area and interpretive panels.
The Pinnell Mountain Trail is a primitive trail marked with wooden mileposts and rock cairns. Switchbacks have been constructed to provide safer access across steep talus slopes, and approximately 1.6 miles (2.6 km) of wooden planking provide passage through boggy areas.
Hikers along the Pinnell Mountain Trail should expect a physical challenge. Most of the trail has at least an 8 percent grade. In many areas the grade exceeds 25 percent. At Eagle Summit, Pinnell Mountain, and Table Mountain, the trail features long switchbacks with 600-foot (182 m) elevation changes over a distance of one-half mile (0.8 km).
At least three days should be allowed to hike the entire trail. Day or overnight hiking can be enjoyed from either trailhead, with spectacular views beginning just a few steps from the parking areas.
The trail traverses high ridges between the White Mountains and the Crazy Mountains. Storms moving through the Yukon or Tanana valleys reach this high ground and stall. The results are windy conditions, low clouds, fog, rain, hail or snow. While calm, sunny days with 80-degree temperatures are possible in mid-July, snow may fall at any time of the year. Be prepared for cold temperatures, wind, and poor visibility; weather conditions can quickly change from pleasant to extreme.
|Hikers relax at the North Fork Shelter as one hiker (left) filters water from the water catchment barrel. Both shelter cabins are equipped with catchments. |
There are two shelter cabins located on the Pinnell Mountain Trail. The Ptarmigan Creek Shelter is located near 10.1 miles (16.2 km) from Eagle Summit in a saddle just below Pinnell Mountain. The North Fork Shelter is located at mile 17.8 (28.6 km), 9.5 miles (15.3 km) from Twelvemile Summit, on the back side of a hill. These small, unfurnished shelter cabins provide emergency shelter, away from strong wind and blowing rain or snow. They operate on a first-come, first-served basis. Hikers should always carry tents and be prepared to use them in case the shelter cabins are occupied.
Finding drinking water along the trail can become difficult later in the summer, when snowfields and small ponds dry up. Water is generally available at both shelter cabins, where catchment systems collect melting snow and rain. All water should be treated before use. Day hikers should carry enough water for a full day (at least 2 quarts or liters), and backpackers should always carry at least 3 quarts or liters of water.
Although there have been few problem bears on the Pinnell Mountainonal Recreation Trail, black and brown bears pass through the area. Grizzly bears prey on marmots, so watch for signs of bear when around marmot habitat. Be alert and make plenty of noise when walking through areas where bears may be present.
Keep the Trail Clean
You can avoid unwanted wildlife encounters—and prevent problems for other hikers—by cooking food outside the shelter cabins and away from sleeping areas. Always keep a clean camp. Human waste should be buried at least 200 feet (60 m) from water sources, and all garbage, including toilet paper, should be hauled out. Pack it in, pack it out. Please do not leave food for other hikers in the shelter cabins or feed wildlife of any kind. Maps & Navigation
The BLM offers a downloadable trail map
(PDF, 587 KB) for trip-planning purposes. For navigation, hikers should consult these U.S. Geological Survey 15-minute topographic maps covering the Pinnell Mountain Trail: Circle B-3, Circle B-4, Circle C-3, and Circle C-4.
The following global positioning system (GPS) coordinates are approximate and should not be used as your only means of navigation.
Ptarmigan Creek Shelter
|North Fork Shelter ||N65° 28.733' ||W145° 49.043' |
|N65° 23.865' ||W145° 58.376' |
(All coordinates WGS 84 in degrees and decimal minutes)
No Motorized Use
The trail was constructed for hikers and is closed to all motorized vehicles.