Backpack to Donoho Basin

Rate this Adventure 7 miles 600 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Jacob W. Frank

Wrangell-St. Elias is the largest National Park in the US and is the park with the most designated Wilderness. This trip has it all, glaciers, lakes, wildlife, and spectacular views!

If you’ve never been to the park, Wrangell is 13.2 million acres, the largest national park in the United States, roughly the size of Switzerland. Access is limited. There is only one main road into the center of the park, which dead ends in the town of Kennecott, a historic copper mining area. I have marked on the map as far as you are allowed to take your personal vehicle.

In order to get to the trailhead there are a few logistics which the park has explained here.

Once you have taken the McCarthy Road, parked at the Kennicott River, walked across the footbridge, and grabbed a shuttle to the town of Kennecott (yes the river and town are spelled differently...), you are now ready to start your backpacking trip.

Start from the Kennecott Visitor Center and walk past the mill to the Root Glacier Trail. It's about 1.5 miles until you can make your way down to and eventually onto the glacier. From there you are required to traverse the Root glacier roughly 1 mile wide. There are no markers or trail on the glacier and conditions can change throughout the year. On the glacier you will see some awesome features, such as rivers, lakes, crevasses, and others. As you make your way across the glacier, you are aiming for a small saddle on the south side of Donoho peak. There you will find the first campground and the "trail" that takes you towards series of unnamed lakes. Even though I use the word trail, it is more of a route and will require some bushwhacking at times.

Eventually you will make it to the first unnamed lake, from there continue around the east side of the lake where you will eventually make it to the foot of the second unnamed lake. From there you will want to cross the stream at the foot of the second lake and continue around the south side of the lake as you continue west into Donoho Basin. From there the route continues into Donoho Basin as far or as short as you like. We camped at the second lake and enjoyed our spot very much. From our camp you can day hike further up into the basin where you will get spectacular view of Kennicott Glacier and 16K ft Mount Blackburn.

If you are looking to split up the trip in and/or out you can also spend a night along the west side of the Root glacier. If you have never hiked off trail in Alaska before or take a lot of pictures like I do, it may be a good idea.

Read More

Tags

Camping
Photography
Backpacking
Hiking
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife
Swimming Hole

Reviews

Have you done this adventure? Be the first to leave a review!

Stay Nearby

McCarthy, Alaska

The Copper

All customers must drive to our location.The Copper is a lovely, custom Alaskan log house. The house is fully contemporary with power 24/7, hot and cold running water, private bathroom with tub and...

From $225/night

McCarthy, Alaska

The Kuskulana

The house has one bedroom, queen bed and a queen-size sleeper sofa in the living room area. Each guest house is screened by natural vegetation for privacy but retains a beautiful view of the surrou...

From $225/night

McCarthy, Alaska

The Chitina

The house has one bedroom, queen bed and a queen-size sleeper sofa in the living room area. Each guest house is screened by natural vegetation for privacy but retains a beautiful view of the surrou...

From $225/night

McCarthy, Alaska

The Gilahina

The super comfy queen bed in the private bedroom will give you a deep and relaxing sleep for the next day of adventure in our version of paradise. Look no further for your private lodging needs whi...

From $225/night

Nearby Adventures

  • Explore Wrangell-St. Elias National Park Kennecott Mines

    If you have already stepped foot into Wrangell-St. Elias, you probably arrived via bush plane or by heroically navigating the relentlessly brutal, pothole smothered McCarthy Road. Once across the Kennecott River footbridge, you must take the shutt...

    1 miles 100 ft gain

  • Hike the Root Glacier to the Donoho Lakes

    Traversing the glacier can be a whole day experience in and of itself. Make sure to set aside enough time to explore. I'd plan on at least 3-4 hours total travel time round trip on the glacier alone. The Donoho Lakes are a series of lakes that exi...

    5 miles 500 ft gain

  • Hike to the Bonanza Mine in the Wrangell St-Elias National Park

    This 9 mile strenuous hike will reward the intrepid hiker with a serene setting and in-tact mining ruins for any and all to explore at will. Literally at will as there will be no park personnel telling you where you can and cannot go - it is reall...

    9 miles 3800 ft gain

  • Backpack to Stairway Icefall at Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

    We began our trek at the Kennecott Mines, which is a short van ride from the town of McCarthy, which is (semi) road accessible.  I say semi because to get there you must drive 60 miles on a dirt road and park nearby the town, which is not road acc...

    14.4 miles 2305 ft gain