Black Rapids Trails
Summer Day Hikes
Distance: 1-1.5 mile valley bottom loop, 3.2 miles round trip to the alpine
Elevation Gain: 300 feet for valley bottom loop, 1200 feet to the alpine
Trail Type: Hiking
Considerations: Please respect private property. The lodge has limited parking so please park at Gunnysack Creek unless you’re staying or eating at the lodge.
The good folks at Black Rapids Lodge have done us all a favor by carving out some hiking paths into the brush behind their property. A small network winds for a mile or two through the woods, and one path leads up through the brush into beautiful alpine country, with good options for further off trail exploration. Though these trails can be reached from the lodge, it’s nearly as easy to get to them without setting foot on their land.
From Delta, drive about 39 miles south on the Richardson Highway and park in a pullout on the left immediately before the bridge over Gunnysack Creek. Alternatively, stop in at the lodge and start from there, but be aware that their parking is limited.
Hike up the gravel bar along Gunnysack Creek for a quarter mile or so to the Trans Alaska Pipeline. Take a left along the pipeline access road and quickly look for a small, handmade trail sign pointing along a path into the brush on the right. Though there are some branches, including one leading back to the creek, there are two main options. Keeping to the left, the trail winds around past some fine viewpoints back to the pipeline for a total distance of two miles or so.
Alternatively, at the top of a hill, where the more substantial trail takes a left, keep straight on a trail marked with painted coffee can lids, paralleling Gunnysack Creek. This isn’t a very substantial trail, but it’s clearly marked, and it eventually leads up out of the brush, with great views down into Gunnysack Creek Canyon. The end of the marked trail is a good turnaround point, but if you wish to continue further into the high country, you’ll have to traverse left for some distance since the way straight ahead is barred by cliffs. Eventually, you can head back uphill to the right, steeply up to a high point above the aforementioned cliffs. From there, the going gets scrambly, but there’s endless rocky high country to explore.
Long Winter Hikes
Distance: 1.5 mile loop or 3 mile round trip to tree line
Elevation Gain: 300 feet for loop; 1200 feet to tree line
Trail Type: Snowshoeing
Considerations: Tree line trail sees little winter use and may be hard to follow
The trails behind Black Rapids Lodge make for a great snowshoe outing in winter. How well packed the trails are varies, but they’re all marked with colored coffee can lids, and all are at least somewhat protected from the winds which are common in this area. The Black Rapids area usually gets much less snow than the mountains even just a few miles further to the south, so you shouldn’t have to worry too much about chest deep powder or anything.