Hike the Stampede Trail to the Magic Bus

Stampede Trail, AK, Healy, Alaska, United States

  • Activities:

    Camping, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    37.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    1271 Feet

Forest
Wildlife

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
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

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

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.

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

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.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

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.

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

8 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

6 Saves