Crow Pass Trail
This popular 28-mile trail connecting Eagle River and Girdwood traverses the Chugach Mountains and provides incredible views and wildlife viewing opportunities. For hikers with less time or stamina, plenty of excellent wildlife viewing occurs in the first 2 to 3 miles of the trail from the Crow Creek trailhead near Girdwood. From the pass, hikers often see hoary marmots and arctic ground squirrels, and occasionally mountain goats and Dall sheep.
Hoary marmots are large relatives of the squirrel, but more colorful. A dark face with a white nose patch accentuates their mostly grayish body. Their dark brown feet make them appear to be wearing boots. These social animals live with their own families but make their burrows near other families to form a colony. Marmots live in alpine meadows, often adjacent to boulders or talus. These furry creatures are true hibernators and reduce all bodily functions from mid-September until April or early May. In summer, listen for their long whistle warning calls. They also hiss, squeal, growl, and yip.
Mountain goats and their kids and Dall sheep with lambs can be seen feeding on slopes above the trail during the late spring and summer. Although easily mistaken for each other, mountain goats have a fashion edge over sheep - their long leg hairs resemble pantaloons. Other distinctions are the goats' deeper chest and black horns. Mountain goats are typically solitary or reside in small groups of nannies, kids, and young billies. Dall sheep ewes and lambs are easy to spot in grassy alpine areas because they gather in larger bands. Carry a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope to tell these two species apart and watch them from a comfortable distance along the trail.
Viewing and Safety Tips
Trail use is recommended only during June, July, August, and September. Remain on the trail, especially during winter and spring when avalanche risk is high. Be prepared for a rocky route and inclement weather, including cool, wet, and windy conditions conducive to hypothermia. Wear sturdy boots and non-cotton clothing. Use designated traiIs and be respectful of private property near the end of the road.
From Anchorage, travel south on the Seward Highway. Turn north on the road to Mt. Alyeska Resort (mile 90). After 2 miles, turn left on Crow Creek Road and follow it to a parking lot at the very end (5 miles from Alyeska Highway). The trailhead is accessed at the parking area.