Kenna Lake and the Granite Mountains

Summer Multi-Day Hikes

Distance: 23 miles, round trip to Kenna Lake

Elevation gain: 2000 feet

Trail type: Hiking, mountain biking, 4-wheeling

Considerations: Access is often restricted due to army training activities.  Army recreation permit required

Along with Hajdukovich Creek, the McCumber Creek trail to Kenna Lake is the best route into the Granite Mountains.  A big part of the attraction to this area is its variety.  Though the trail starts outside the mountains, it quickly follows the rim of a spectacular canyon, and offers access to pretty, forested mountain creek valleys, alpine lakes, and the high mountains themselves.  

There are several ways to reach Kenna Lake.  Probably the best way, when not closed by military training, is to drive out the 33 Mile Loop Road, which is gravelled and driveable by most vehicles all the way to Butch Lake.  In summer though, access is very often closed.  The road was recently extended all the way to Jarvis Creek, where there is a low water crossing, but this is usually hazardous with summer water levels and should not be attempted unless you really know what you’re doing.  There is another access point, from the Richardson Highway just past Donnelly Flats, which is actually shortest due to a mining road that was recently put in, but the trail crosses swift flowing, single channel Jarvis Creek, which is often hazardous, but may be a good option in fall or after a spell of cool, dry weather (the creek flows out of a glacier and runs highest during hot weather and after rain).  Finally, the last option is to come in from the 1408 trailhead along the Alaska Highway, but this is much longer and not really recommended unless you’re on a 4-wheeler.  Each of these routes are a bit convoluted and difficult to describe.  Taking a look at the training area maps that the army puts out, as well as the satellite imagery on Google Earth will help orientation.

In any case, all these 4-wheeler trails come together at the entrance to the mountains.  Close by, to the west, Jarvis Creek flows through a spectacular canyon.  A couple good viewpoints are easily reached.  Past the canyon, a side trail descends steeply to the confluence of Jarvis and McCumber Creeks in an attractive, sparsely forested, steep sided valley with good camping.  Continuing up McCumber Creek trail (which only parallels the creek, at quite a distance), several small morainal lakes are passed on the way to Kenna Lake, which is the largest.  From here, another side trail leads down to the confluence of two forks of the creek.  One more trail climbs steeply up to a high alpine ridge of the Granite Mountains to the north.  From this point, the wheeler trail ends, but exploration is unlimited in the open high country.  Further into the Granites, there are a couple lakes in glacial cirques, and for the very adventurous, a traverse of the whole range, to Hajdukovich Creek, should be doable, over the course of about 4 days.


ATV Trails

Distance: 23 miles, round trip to Kenna Lake

Considerations: Be aware of military land, where a recreation permit is required

Aside from a couple solid bottomed wet spots, the main trail to Kenna Lake is generally dry with a dirt or gravel surface, making it much more tolerant of heavy motorized use than many trails in the region.  Really, this area is a playground for recreational 4-wheelers.  

Kenna Lake