Hike the Stampede Trail to the Magic Bus

Alaska Stampede Trail, AK

Added by Dwayne Parton

The Stampede Trail might not be the most scenic trail in Alaska but it is where the legendary Bus 142 AKA "the Magic Bus" from "Into the Wild" is located.

The trail to the Magic Bus is roughly 18.6 miles long and starts at the point where you no longer can drive, which is typically Eightmile Lake. Offroad vehicles can drive the entire way provided they can cross the Teklanika River. The trail is mostly flat but extremely wet and muddy. In many cases you will find yourself walking through creeks and quagmire. The uphills are short but the tundra terrain provides enough complications of its own.

There are 2 river crossings. These are the most dangerous parts of the trail and should be carefully considered before advancing. The rivers can fluctuate greatly and if the water is too high the trail will be too dangerous to continue. The Teklanika River is the most dangerous, the current is very swift, and the river wide. This will make or break the adventure as it is a required ford.

The trail is an old road the entire way which makes it pretty easy to follow. There are several times where it intersects other ATV trails but the Stampede Trail is the largest and best maintained. It is extremely helpful to have a GPS. The only place I had trouble finding the trail was after crossing the Teklanika River. I followed an ATV path about 1/4 of a mile further upstream where the water was a little flatter. The trail is pretty straight forward after that. The bus is located in plain sight and can not be missed from the trail.

The Alaska environment changes drastically. Mosquitoes can be extremely bad in the Summer, in the Fall it is extremely icy and cold, and in the Spring the ice break up makes the trail too dangerous. Different skills are required during every season. The most important thing is that you know before you go. The bus is loved by many, so please take the necessary precautions to help preserve it.

There is a possibility that the bus could be full. It only sleeps a few people but there are plenty of places outside to camp.

Pack List

  • Map/GPS
  • Bear Spray
  • First Aid Kit
  • Bug Repellant
  • Water
  • Water filter
  • Camera
  • Day Pack/Overnight pack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/pad
  • Food
  • Hat/gloves/coat
  • Trekking Poles
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Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Hiking

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

37.2 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1271 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Forest
Wildlife

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How to Get There

3 months ago

Do Not Do This! -lifelong Alaskan

Countless people continue to require expensive state funded rescues. As a lifelong Alaska, and fellow adventurer, I'm telling you this is a terrible idea unless you have some serious backcountry experience. There is a replica in Healy at the 49th State Brewing Company. Get your picture there and have a beer.

3 months ago

9 months ago

Be careful

As a former dispatcher for the Alaska State Troopers, I can't tell you how many times each year that rescue coordination is made to help visitors to the magic bus. It is infamous for its difficulty to safely get in and out. Make sure you are confident in your wilderness abilities and make proper planning a priority before attempting this journey.

9 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.

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