Pinnell Mountain Trail In Alaska

Here is everything you need to know about the Pinnell Mountain Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Alaska
  • Length: 27.3 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: Dirt
  • Managed By: Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website:

The Pinnell Mountain Trail, located in the interior of Alaska, holds a significant historical background that dates back to the early 1900s. The trail was originally established as a transportation route for gold miners during the Klondike Gold Rush. In the late 1800s, prospectors flocked to the region in search of fortune, and the Pinnell Mountain Trail served as a vital link between the goldfields of the Yukon and the Tanana Valley.

The trail was named after William Pinnell, a renowned prospector and explorer who played a crucial role in the development of the region. Pinnell, along with his team, explored and mapped the area extensively, identifying the most feasible route for transportation. The trail was initially used by miners to transport their equipment, supplies, and gold from the remote goldfields to the trading posts and settlements.

Over time, as the gold rush subsided, the Pinnell Mountain Trail lost its significance as a transportation route. However, its historical importance remained intact, and efforts were made to preserve and maintain the trail. In the 1970s, the Bureau of Land Management recognized the trail’s historical value and designated it as a recreational trail, ensuring its preservation for future generations.

Today, the Pinnell Mountain Trail stands as a testament to the pioneering spirit of the gold rush era. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts can traverse the 27-mile-long trail, experiencing the same rugged terrain that the early prospectors once navigated. The trail offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, valleys, and pristine wilderness, providing a glimpse into Alaska’s rich history and the challenges faced by those who ventured into the untamed wilderness in search of gold.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Eagle Summit Trailhead: This is the starting point of the Pinnell Mountain Trail, located near the Eagle Summit on the Steese Highway.

2. Twelvemile Summit Trailhead: This access point is located at the Twelvemile Summit on the Steese Highway, providing an alternative starting point for the trail.

3. Wickersham Dome Trailhead: Situated near Wickersham Dome, this trailhead offers access to the Pinnell Mountain Trail from the Elliott Highway.

4. Borealis-LeFevre Cabin Trailhead: This access point is located near the Borealis-LeFevre Cabin, providing a starting point for those who want to hike a shorter section of the trail.

5. Table Top Mountain Trailhead: Situated near Table Top Mountain, this trailhead offers access to the Pinnell Mountain Trail from the Steese Highway.

6. Twelvemile Summit North Trailhead: This access point is located north of Twelvemile Summit on the Steese Highway, providing an alternative starting point for the trail.

7. Circle Hot Springs Trailhead: Situated near Circle Hot Springs, this trailhead offers access to the Pinnell Mountain Trail from the Circle Hot Springs Road.

8. Central Summit Trailhead: Located near Central Summit on the Steese Highway, this access point provides another starting point for the trail.

9. Eagle Summit North Trailhead: This access point is located north of Eagle Summit on the Steese Highway, offering an alternative starting point for the trail.

10. Circle Hot Springs Road Trailhead: Situated along the Circle Hot Springs Road, this trailhead provides access to the Pinnell Mountain Trail from a different direction.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Pinnell Mountain Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Fairbanks International Airport – The nearest major airport, offering domestic and international flights.
2. Alaska Railroad – A scenic train service connecting Fairbanks to other Alaskan cities.
3. Fairbanks Bus Line – Provides bus transportation to various destinations in Alaska, including Fairbanks.
4. Car Rental Agencies – Multiple car rental companies available in Fairbanks for convenient self-drive options.
5. Taxi Services – Local taxi companies offering transportation within Fairbanks and surrounding areas.
6. Uber/Lyft – Ride-hailing services available in Fairbanks for convenient transportation.
7. Pinnell Mountain Trail Shuttle Service – A specialized shuttle service catering to hikers and outdoor enthusiasts along the Pinnell Mountain Trail.


The amenities available at the Pinnell Mountain Trail include:

1. Restrooms: There are restroom facilities available at designated areas along the trail.

2. Parking: There are parking lots or designated parking areas available at the trailhead or nearby for visitors to park their vehicles.

3. Camping Sites: The Pinnell Mountain Trail offers several designated camping sites along the trail where hikers can set up their tents and spend the night. These sites may have amenities such as fire pits, picnic tables, and access to water sources.

4. Picnic Areas: There are designated picnic areas along the trail where hikers can take a break, enjoy a meal, or have a picnic. These areas may have picnic tables or benches for convenience.

5. Water Sources: There are natural water sources such as streams, rivers, or lakes along the trail where hikers can access water for drinking or other purposes. It is advisable to carry a water filter or purification method.

6. Trail Markers: The trail is marked with signs or markers to guide hikers and ensure they stay on the designated path.

7. Scenic Overlooks: The Pinnell Mountain Trail offers scenic viewpoints or overlooks where hikers can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

8. Wildlife Viewing: The trail provides opportunities for wildlife viewing, allowing hikers to observe and appreciate the local flora and fauna.

9. Information Boards: There may be information boards or kiosks at the trailhead or along the trail, providing hikers with important information about the trail, safety guidelines, and any specific regulations.

10. Trailhead Facilities: The trailhead may have additional amenities such as visitor centers, parking lots, information centers, or ranger stations where hikers can obtain maps, permits, or seek assistance.

It is important to note that the availability and condition of these amenities may vary, and it is advisable to check with local authorities or trail management organizations for the most up-to-date information before planning a visit.

Nearby Services

1. Pinnell Mountain Trail Shelter – A basic shelter along the trail for overnight camping.
2. Eagle Summit Lodge – A nearby lodge offering comfortable accommodations and meals.
3. Arctic Circle Hot Springs – Natural hot springs with rustic cabins for lodging and a restaurant.
4. Circle Hot Springs Resort – A historic resort with lodging, dining, and access to hot springs.
5. Central Emergency Services – Local emergency services providing medical assistance and fire response.

Pinnell Mountain Trail Difficulty Notes

The Pinnell Mountain Trail, located in Alaska’s remote interior, is known for its challenging terrain and rugged beauty. Spanning over 27 miles, this trail offers a variety of difficulties, making it suitable for experienced hikers seeking a true wilderness adventure. The trail features steep ascents and descents, rocky sections, and uneven terrain, requiring hikers to have good physical fitness and endurance. Additionally, the trail can be challenging to navigate, with limited signage and occasional overgrown sections. However, those who are up for the challenge will be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, pristine alpine lakes, and the opportunity to immerse themselves in the untouched wilderness of Alaska.

Features And Attractions

The Pinnell Mountain Trail is a scenic hiking trail located in the northeastern part of Alaska, USA. It offers breathtaking views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable points of interest along the trail:

1. Pinnell Mountain: The trail itself is named after this prominent mountain, which offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

2. Arctic Circle: The Pinnell Mountain Trail crosses the Arctic Circle, providing hikers with the unique opportunity to experience this significant geographical marker.

3. Scenic Overlooks: Throughout the trail, there are several scenic overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the expansive Alaskan wilderness, including vast tundra, rolling hills, and distant mountain ranges.

4. Historical Sites: The trail passes through areas that were historically significant during the gold rush era. Hikers can explore remnants of old mining camps, cabins, and other artifacts from this period.

5. Wildlife Viewing: The Pinnell Mountain Trail is known for its abundant wildlife. Hikers may encounter caribou, moose, Dall sheep, foxes, and a variety of bird species along the way.

6. Arctic Flora: The trail showcases the unique Arctic flora, including vibrant wildflowers, lichens, and mosses. During the summer months, the tundra comes alive with colorful blooms.

7. Rock Formations: The trail passes through areas with interesting rock formations, such as tors and outcrops, which add to the scenic beauty of the landscape.

8. Lakes and Rivers: Hikers will come across several pristine lakes and rivers along the trail, providing opportunities for fishing, swimming, and peaceful moments of reflection.

9. Midnight Sun: Due to its location in the far north, the Pinnell Mountain Trail offers the chance to experience the phenomenon of the midnight sun during the summer months. Hikers can enjoy extended daylight hours and stunning sunsets.

10. Northern Lights: In the winter, the Pinnell Mountain Trail is an excellent location for viewing the mesmerizing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). The dark skies and remote location make it an ideal spot for witnessing this natural wonder.

Please note that the Pinnell Mountain Trail is a remote and challenging trail, and proper preparation, including obtaining necessary permits and being aware of safety precautions, is essential before embarking on this adventure.

Usage Guidelines


Seasonal Information

The Pinnell Mountain Trail, located in Alaska’s eastern interior, offers breathtaking views and a unique wilderness experience. The best times of the year to visit this trail are during the summer months, from June to August. During this time, the weather is generally milder, with temperatures ranging from 50°F to 70°F (10°C to 21°C). The days are longer, allowing for more daylight hours to explore and enjoy the trail’s stunning landscapes.

One of the highlights of visiting the Pinnell Mountain Trail during the summer is the opportunity to witness the vibrant wildflowers in full bloom. The trail is adorned with colorful displays of lupines, fireweed, and other alpine flowers, creating a picturesque backdrop for hikers. Additionally, wildlife sightings are more common during this time, as animals such as moose, caribou, and Dall sheep are more active.

It’s important to note that the Pinnell Mountain Trail is subject to seasonal closures due to weather conditions. The trail is typically closed during the winter months, from October to May, due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold temperatures. The harsh winter conditions make it unsafe and impractical for hikers to navigate the trail during this time. It is advisable to check with local authorities or the Bureau of Land Management for the most up-to-date information on trail closures and conditions before planning your visit.

In conclusion, the best times to visit the Pinnell Mountain Trail are during the summer months when the weather is milder, wildflowers are in bloom, and wildlife is more active. However, it’s important to be aware of the seasonal closures during the winter months, as the trail is inaccessible and unsafe due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold temperatures. By planning your visit accordingly and staying informed about trail conditions, you can make the most of your experience on the Pinnell Mountain Trail.


1. Wheelchair Accessibility: The Pinnell Mountain Trail is not wheelchair accessible due to its rugged terrain and lack of designated accessible features.
2. Trail Surface: The trail consists of natural surfaces, including dirt, rocks, and uneven terrain, which may pose challenges for wheelchair users.
3. Trail Width: The trail width varies throughout the trail, and it may not meet the minimum width requirements for wheelchair accessibility.
4. Steep Grades: The trail includes steep grades and elevation changes, making it difficult for wheelchair users to navigate.
5. Trail Obstacles: The trail may have fallen trees, roots, or other obstacles that can impede wheelchair movement.
6. Trail Facilities: There are no accessible restrooms, picnic areas, or other facilities along the trail.
7. Trail Length: The Pinnell Mountain Trail is approximately 27 miles long, which may be challenging for individuals with mobility limitations.
8. Alternative ADA Accommodations: While the trail itself may not be accessible, nearby areas may offer ADA-compliant facilities and accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

Safety Information

1. Unstable terrain: Portions of the trail may have unstable terrain, requiring caution while hiking.
2. Wildlife encounters: Be aware of potential encounters with bears and other wildlife along the trail.
3. Weather conditions: Sudden changes in weather can occur, so hikers should be prepared for varying conditions.
4. Limited water sources: Water sources may be limited along the trail, so hikers should carry enough water or be prepared to treat water from natural sources.
5. Remote location: The trail is located in a remote area, so hikers should be self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies.
6. Trail maintenance: Some sections of the trail may require maintenance, so hikers should be cautious of any potential hazards.
7. Navigation challenges: The trail may have sections with limited signage or markers, requiring good navigation skills.
8. River crossings: There are several river crossings along the trail, which may be challenging during high water levels.
9. Mosquitoes and insects: Mosquitoes and other insects can be prevalent during certain times of the year, so hikers should bring appropriate bug repellent.
10. Hunting season: The trail passes through areas where hunting is allowed, so hikers should be aware of hunting seasons and take necessary precautions.

Conservation Notes

The Pinnell Mountain Trail, located in Alaska, is a significant conservation area that is actively managed to preserve its natural resources and biodiversity. The trail traverses through the remote and pristine wilderness of the eastern Brooks Range, offering hikers a unique opportunity to experience the untouched beauty of this region. As a designated conservation area, the Pinnell Mountain Trail is subject to specific regulations and management practices to ensure its long-term protection.

The conservation status of the Pinnell Mountain Trail is classified as a protected area, which means it is legally safeguarded against activities that could harm its ecological integrity. This designation aims to maintain the trail’s natural habitats, wildlife populations, and overall ecological balance. The trail is managed by various conservation organizations and government agencies, working together to monitor and protect the area’s sensitive ecosystems.

Efforts to conserve the Pinnell Mountain Trail include implementing strict regulations on camping, hunting, and fishing to minimize human impact on the environment. Additionally, trail maintenance activities are carefully conducted to prevent erosion and preserve the trail’s natural character. Conservationists also work to educate visitors about the importance of responsible outdoor practices, such as Leave No Trace principles, to minimize their ecological footprint while enjoying the trail.

Overall, the conservation status of the Pinnell Mountain Trail reflects a commitment to preserving its unique natural features and ensuring that future generations can continue to appreciate its beauty. Through ongoing conservation efforts, this trail serves as a valuable example of how human activities can coexist harmoniously with nature, promoting the long-term sustainability of this remarkable wilderness area.

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