Quartz Lake

Short Loop

Summer Short Walks

Distance: 1.8 mile loop

Elevation gain: around 100 feet

Trail type: Hiking

Considerations: None

In a region with very few signed and maintained trails, the Quartz Lake State Recreation Area is a gem.  Between the main lake and smaller Lost Lake, trails wind through nice upland boreal woods.  The loop follows the shores of both lakes, has a good viewpoint over Quartz Lake to the rolling low mountains beyond, and accesses a public use cabin that can be rented for the night by contacting Alaska State Parks.

From Delta, drive about 11.5 miles, across the Tanana Bridge and turn right on Quartz Lake Road.  Drive this paved, winding road a little less than three miles, to the large parking area at the State Recreation Site.  Alternatively, take the spur road to Lost Lake and start there.  Lost Lake is considerably less crowded on nice summer days.  

Starting from Quartz Lake, walk the well marked trail along the left shore of the lake .75 mile to Glatfelder Cabin.  Just beyond the cabin is a nice, low bluff with views over the lake.  Taking a sharp turn at the cabin, an obvious trail leads through some nice spruce and birch woods .75 mile to Lost Lake Campground.  From there, a trail leads through the woods, paralleling the road, a third of a mile back to the starting point at Quartz Lake.

Quartz Lake

Summer Day Hikes

Quartz Lake Long Loop

Distance: 4.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 500 feet

Trail type: Hiking, mountain biking (4-wheelers not allowed on these trails)

Considerations: Part of the trail past Lost Lake is eroding, and may require waterproof boots

For a good half-day hike close to town, it’s hard to beat Quartz Lake Recreation Area.  The main attraction beyond the previously described short loop is an open bluff, covered with little rose bushes and sagebrush, with an exceptional view over a wetland area teeming with wildlife, with vast lowlands and the Alaska Range beyond.

From Delta, drive about 11.5 miles, across the Tanana Bridge and turn right on Quartz Lake Road.  Drive this paved, winding road a little less than three miles, to the large parking area at the State Recreation Site.  Alternatively, take the spur road to Lost Lake and start there.  Lost Lake is considerably less crowded on nice summer days.  

From Glatfelder Cabin, drop down to Quartz Lake and follow the shore.  In some places there is a trail through the brush that may or may not be drier.  About 2/3 mile from the cabin, find a signed junction and take the trail to the left, into the thick woods.  This section is the least used on the trail system and is little more than a path.  After cresting a hill, take a right at the next trail junction, following the signs for Bluff Point.  After visiting the Bluff, follow the signed trail to Lost Lake at the nearby junction.  A portion of this trail descends very steeply down the hill, but it then becomes flat and wide as it heads for Lost Lake and the parking lot.

 

Moderate Winter Hikes

Quartz Lake Short Loop

Distance: 1.7 mile loop

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Trail Type: Snowshoeing

Considerations: Partly packed down in winter

While most of the recreation areas around Delta are primarily used only in summer, Quartz Lake sees quite a bit of winter ice fishing use as well.  The road and parking lot at Quartz Lake are plowed throughout the season, though they’re low on the priority list.  This is especially true in early season, before the ice fishing really gets going.  The road and campground at Lost Lake are not generally plowed, but traffic sometimes keeps that road adequately packed down in lower snow years.  

This short, forested, lowland hike is a good option on days when the weather’s not perfect.  Without any jaw dropping mountain views, the point here is enjoying the lakes and boreal forest of lowland interior Alaska.  If it’s breezy, it’s recommended to do the hike counterclockwise, so the wind will be at your back for the exposed section along the shore of Quartz Lake.  

Starting from Quartz Lake, the trail to Glatfelder Cabin is generally very well packed, often not even requiring snowshoes.  From Glatfelder through the dense forest to Lost Lake is not as heavily used, and snowshoes will be required, though the way is usually obvious.  The connecting trail from Lost Lake to Quartz is hardly used at all, though walking the road is another option.

 

Long Winter Hikes

Distance: About 4.25 mile loop

Elevation Gain: About 200 feet

Trail Type: Snowshoeing

Considerations: Roughly half the loop sees little use in winter

Past Glatfelder Cabin, along the shore of Quartz Lake, the trail is little used in winter.  The lakeshore itself can get fairly heavily drifted, so it helps to beat down a showshoe track along the trail that parallels the lakeshore, through the brush.  

From Quartz Lake to the top of the ridge, the trail is merely a narrow footpath in summer, so if there are no tracks in winter, those unfamiliar should probably turn back.  The trail widens again once the ridge is reached, and the way to Bluff Point is fairly clear.  The steep hill down to Moose Pond can be a bit treacherous if it has packed snow and ice on it.  Grippy mountain snowshoes are recommended, but the descent can be made with care even without them.  The remaining portion of the trail along Lost Lake generally gets a bit more traffic and is easy to follow.

Big Delta Bluff