1402, 1408 Trails, Hajdukovich Creek, Granite Mountains
Summer Multi-Day Hikes
Distance: 18 miles round trip to the alpine
Elevation gain: 2300 feet
Trail type: Hiking, mountain biking, 4-wheeling
Considerations: Lower portion of trail is easy, but exceptionally boring
The Hajdukovich Creek Trail is one of the primary access routes into the Granite Mountains, a subrange that is very prominent from the Delta area, but is deceptively challenging to reach on foot. Coming in from this direction, the first several miles are flat, straight, and boring if you’re on foot, which encourages a multi-day trip to get the most out of the beautiful upper regions. From near the end of the trail, the open rocky tundra of the Granites invites further exploration on foot.
From Delta, drive 20 miles out the Alaska Highway, and look for a wooden sign on the right that reads “Grouse Habitat Management Area.” In dry weather, this trail can be driven for a mile or two to a small parking area with a high clearance vehicle.
From here, continue walking out the trail through more eroded sections. A portion of the trail is comprised – oddly enough – of course sand which makes walking a bit laborious. When the trail comes to a major 3 way intersection, take a right, and then a left along the most used trail. It would be a good idea to take a look at google earth before heading out here, since this area has a confusing web of 4-wheeler trails. For a while, the trail winds through pleasant, dry forest, and eventually ends up in the cobbly creekbed of Hajdukovich Creek. After crossing the creek (which is usually fairly shallow), the trail climbs and winds scenically along the edge of the steep bluff above. This narrow and rooty forest trail is challenging on a 4-wheeler, but pleasant on foot. After a last very steep hill, the trail climbs onto a moraine ridge and up out of the trees. The trail ends near brush line, and further exploration into Portalus Valley or up toward Panorama Peak is fairly straightforward.
Granite Creek Trails (1408)
Distance: Highly variable
Considerations: Most trails have very boggy sections
East of Delta Junction, south of the Alaska Highway, there is a vast network of trails. I won’t try to describe this system in any detail, since the fun out here is in poking around and exploring, rather than heading for any specific destination.
The common access points are the Flood Control Project at milepost 1408 along the Alaska Highway, the trailhead at milepost 1402 (which is also the access for the Hajdukovich Creek Trail), as well as trailheads further east along the highway which lead primarily into the Gerstle River Training Area. The main trail from the 1408 trailhead does connect with the 33 Mile Loop / Kenna Lake Trail system, although the access to that area is shorter using other routes. The other trailhead of note is accessed by a gravel road leading to Gerstle River Training Area, just before the Gerstle River Bridge. The training area is laced with many miles of trails, including some very nice riding along moraine ridge tops with views of Gerstle River and the mountains. Apparently, it is even possible to ride 4-wheelers all the way back to Gerstle Glacier. This would require riding the Gerstle Training Area trails past the canyon, and then dropping down to the gravel bar, and then right up the riverbed. This trip is likely only possible in fall, when water levels are low.