Hike the Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail

Alaska Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail

Added by Dwayne Parton

The Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail offers fantastic views of the Knik Glacier from the trail. There are berry picking opportunities and the view is a well earned reward.

Starting at less than 200ft above sea level, the trail starts off steep and never lets up. It climbs through forest until you are at about 2000ft. The trail gets muddy as the ground thaws and becomes very slick. The vegetation thins out as the elevation increases and the trail begins to cut back and forth through shrubs and berry bushes. There are several picnic tables along the way to stop and rest at, as well as many views of the Knik Glacier.

At 3200ft the trail reaches the ridge crest and is not quite as steep. This is my favorite part, and really puts into perspective the climb you've already made. It follows the ridge all the way up and ends at 5330ft. Advanced climbers can continue on to scale the 6398ft Pioneer Peak.

The climate changes drastically as you climb. I started the trail burning up and once we got to the ridge crest had to put on extra clothes. This was just after the first dusting of snow, and in some spots it was well over a foot deep.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Food/Snacks
  • Trekking Poles
  • Gaiters
  • Wind Breaker
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Intermediate

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

9 Miles

Elev. Gain:

5000 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Forest
Scenic
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

6 months ago

Pioneer please!

Love this trail. It starts off steep as could be but the alpine ridge is absolutely stunning. The final push to the South Summit is 4th class terrain and a fall could end up in disaster. Remember to take your time and turn back if it's past your ability. The true summit is 5th class climbing and should not be attempted unless an experienced climber and roping up would be wise. There isn't much opportunity for water after the first 1.5miles so make sure to pack enough.

6 months ago

Added by Dwayne Parton

Travel. Outdoors. Lifestyle. 
 I completed a thru hike of the Appalachian Trail in 2014. I loved the lifestyle it afforded. Now I live in a van with my dog Bobby traveling across the country. Life's a journey, so let's participate.

More Adventures Nearby

Explore the Knik Arm's Ice Fields

Alaska / Peters Creek, Alaska

Alaska's Knik Arm has an impressive tide. When out, the mudflats appear, and in the winter, massive, beautiful pieces of ice are left behind.

Kayak the West Arm of Glacier Bay National Park

Alaska / Glacier Bay National Park (West Arm Starting Point of Scidmore Bay)

Ever wanted to sleep beside a calving glacier? Wake up with a humpback whale feeding along the shoreline of your private beach? Watch the sunset for hours until midnight?Witness bears foraging in the.

Hike Skilak Lookout

Alaska / Skilak Lookout Trail

This was my very first afternoon in Alaska. By myself just meandering around the state by car with a map in my lap. Alaska - what a limitless place of adventure.

Abby Vohaska
1 Saves