We drove up to Hatcher Pass one afternoon. It's a long (maybe 20 miles), windy, paved road to the top. But the Pass road itself was still closed in late June because of snow. (The Pass road is a gravel mountain road between here and the town of Willow which is north of Wasilla). It was quite breezy up here on the day we drove up. If you plan to explore, definitely bring a heavy fleece or a jacket. There is a huge parking lot at the top of the road. The main thing to see up here is the Independence Mine State Historic Park, a huge abandoned gold mine with many of the buildings still intact. There is a $5.00/car fee to get into the Independence Mine property. There also are trails that take you higher and higher up the mountainside. We hiked up one of the steep trails for about 45 minutes. You're above tree line so it's pretty rocky and wide open hiking. Great views! After returning to the parking lot, we strolled over to the Hatcher Pass Lodge and Cabins and walked down several of the short paths on the tundra-like landscape. Amazingly, even in this relatively harsh climate, we found little flowers blooming. The ride back down the mountain has a number of pull offs that offer some gorgeous views of the Mat-Su valley. We had the good fortune to have a sunny day to really take in the view. As you descend (or as you climb), the Little Susitna River hugs the roadside for a while adding to the pleasure of the trip. There are other hiking opportunities along the Hatcher Pass Road. A favorite of our B&B host was the Gold Mint Trail - but we didn't have enough time to give it a try.
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