Hiking

MOUNT DISTIN

MOUNT DISTIN, el. 2,115 ft.

This is another popular hike among locals.

  • Use geological survey maps C-1 and D-1.

  • Difficulty: Moderate. The elevation gain is about 1,700 feet. Figure on six hours. There are steep dropoffs. Since this hike takes you three miles off the road, be sure to follow the precautions listed at the top of this publication.

  • Distance: About 5 miles, round trip

Drive the Glacier Creek Road to its crossing of Goldbottom Creek, at approx. 64° 44’ 40" N, 165° 23’ 45" W.

At about ten miles from Nome, this road becomes narrow in spots, with thick mud in others during the spring, and washouts. You’ll want to be driving a four-wheel drive vehicle.

The easiest approach is due north, between Silver and Steep Creeks, to near "x1129," continuing north to Distin’s broad western shoulder, and then east, up to the top.

In July, you’ll want to take your time to enjoy the wild flowers, as every hundred feet or so of elevation one type will dominate as one delicate ecosystem evolves into another.

Mount Distin’s peak is a very narrow ridge. Warning: you’ll be tempted to hike down the south side, but don’t. Below you, out of view, the slope becomes dangerously steep. Retrace your steps back to the vehicle. On the way back you might want to drop down into Steep Creek and enjoy the waterfall. Caution: there is a mining shaft in this area. 

By:Tom Busch

GLACIAL LAKE

GLACIAL LAKE VIEW hike to hill 1350.

  • Use geological survey map Nome C-2.

  • Difficulty: It’s not real tough but it’s long. Plan to spend all day on this one. You gain about 1,000 feet elevation.

  • Since this hike takes you four miles off the road, be sure to follow the precautions listed at the top of this publication.

  • Distance: About 10 miles, round trip. This trip will give you a nice taste of gold country.

Drive the Teller Road to the Cripple River bridge. 64° 40’ 36" N., 165° 44’ 23" W. You’ll find it at the bottom of a valley after a long descent. Park in the turnout, which is just before the bridge and to the right. This is where Oregon Creek joins the Cripple.

Visible to the northeast is a long, rounded hill with three crests. That’s your destination. You’ll be hiking up Oregon, which is the southernmost of the two streams. Follow more or less alongside it to its left on the open tundra, gradually climbing, for a total distance of about 3 miles, and proceed up the hillock to your left, labeled "x 1040" on the topo.

From 1040, look down into the bottom of the creek valley, ¾ mile south, and you may see some evidence of the old Oregon gold mine. Proceed to the top of the hill. There are three main peaks.

From the top, your view of the surrounding country and the Kigluaik Mountains is excellent. From this vantage point, you have a rare peek at Glacial Lake, nestled in the mountains 10 miles to the north.

Caution: there may be a nesting pair of peregrine falcons high above Snowshoe Gulch, and they don’t like visitors.

You can return the way you came, or hike off the northern tip of the hill, north to the Cripple, which you can then follow to the road. We don’t recommend hiking west off the hill, as the half-mile of flats can be boggy.

By:Tom Busch 

KIGLUAIK VIEW (hike to 3080/2993.)

THRILLING KIGLUAIK VIEW, hike to 3080/2993.

Few locals know this one, as the incredible view is not obvious from the road. It’s one of our very favorites, with a payoff that far outweighs the effort.

  • Refer to geological survey map Nome D-1.

  • Difficulty: Moderate. You gain over 2,000 feet of elevation. Your destinations have steep, sudden 1,200-foot dropoffs on the north side. Like the Grand Canyon, you’re not in jeopardy if you don’t step too close to the edge. The hike is primarily on firm, dry ground with a lot of loose rock. Since this hike takes you two miles off the road, be sure to follow the precautions listed at the top of this publication.

  • Distance: About 4 miles round-trip. Plan on 4 to 6 hours.

  • Go on a clear day when the mountain tops are visible.

Begin the hike at about Mile 27 of the Kougarok Road, just after it turns eastward toward Salmon Lake. Park at about 64° 53’ 22" N., 165° 14’ W. For the safety of others, ensure that your parked vehicle is well visible from both directions.

Hike north, directly toward the top of little knob 666, and from there, follow the broad ridge north. It’s about two miles to 2993. Once you near the top, the view--and possibly the wind--will take your breath away. You will discover that the gentle hill you just hiked is actually a steep cliff on its north side. The peak of Mount Osborn is about 5 miles to the north, the Seward Peninsula’s highest point, at 4,714 feet. You will see that what appears on the topo maps to be hikeable ridges are actually lines of spires and sawteeth. To the southeast, Salmon Lake is visible.

Retrace your steps back to the road. 

By:Tom Busch

DOROTHY Falls

DOROTHY CREEK, hike to the waterfall.

This is a popular hike among locals, an easy hike to a great spot, which begins at the mouth of an extensively mined creek.

  • Refer to geological survey map Nome D-1.

  • Difficulty: Easy. However, our preferred route will require you to gain about 700 feet of elevation. We’ve done it with 8-year-old children.

  • Distance: About 3 miles round-trip. Requires river crossing.

Begin the hike at approximately Mile 24 of the Kougarok Road, 64° 49’ 50" N, 165° 13’ 15" W. Park along the road and head west, crossing the Nome River. There is a private cabin in the area; please respect its owners’ privacy. The mounds of gravel are tailings from mining operations.

Some people hike up the creek itself, and with care, it’s possible to keep dry if your hiking shoes are waterproof.

Hiking up the creek, however, it’s possible to box in a bear, and to avoid that possibility, we usually hike high along hill 957. That’s the hill to your left, on the south side of the creek.

Climb straight up. The only bushwhacking occurs as you cross the Miocene Ditch, about 150 feet above the Nome River. You’ll want to hike near the top of 957, aiming right, as the lower part of this hill is ankle-busting steep. Hiking around the right (initially north-facing) slope of the hill, as it follows the creek, you will eventually find yourself heading south. After about a mile and a half, you will see a small falls below you.

Hike above the falls, and turn west, crossing the stream. Just below the falls on the western side, it’s a daring, but carefully do-able scramble down the steep side to the creekbed. After enjoying the grotto of the falls, we usually hike out along the creek.

On the way out, watch for slippery rocks. As the valley widens, take time to inspect the remains of the old flume that carried Miocene Ditch water across the entrance of this narrow notched valley. At 400 feet, this flume was the second longest along the Miocene Ditch.

By the way, the name Dorothy was first reported for this creek in 1901. Was Dorothy the girlfriend of the first miner to reach the creek? Nobody knows. 

By:Tom Busch

KING MOUNTAIN

KING MOUNTAIN, about 7-1/2 miles NNE of Nome.

  • Refer to geological survey map Nome C-1.

  • Difficulty: Easy, though you do gain about 900 feet of elevation. There are steep areas but no cliffs. We’ve hiked it with kids as young as 5, and they’ve done better than we did.

  • Distance, about 3 miles round trip.

From Nome, drive north on the Teller Road. Three miles from town as the road curves to the left, you’ll see a narrow cutoff to the right, labeled "Nome Dexter Bypass." Turn onto this road. About three miles later, you’ll crest in the saddle between Anvil Mountain and Newton Peak. King Mountain is directly north of you.

Proceed down the road for about a half-mile, descending the north side of Newton Peak. Watch below you, and along the bottom of King Mountain, for a region that’s not too thick with willows, and that’s not too far from Grouse Gulch, which is the deep cut on King that’s filled with dark willow bushes. Park your vehicle. For the safety of others, ensure that your parked vehicle is well visible from both directions.

Hike down to Dexter Creek and then directly up King. The large graveled area at the head of the creek was mined in the mid-1990’s. At the top of Grouse Gulch, there’s an old cabin, and in that vicinity, you’ll cross the Wild Goose Railroad, which pushed through here in 1903, and was abandoned in 1955. Most of the track was taken up, to be sold to a short line on Catalina Island California (although the steel was too old and was eventually shipped to the Lower 48 as scrap), but near this cabin you’ll find one of the few stretches where the old track is intact. Hike directly up King Mountain.

Somewhere on the south shoulder of King, between the 700 ft. and 900 ft. level, there’s an old hard rock shaft that’s tall enough to stand up in, and only goes back about ten feet. Entering old mining structures is dangerous and should not be attempted. However, this one is tame. From the top of King Mountain, enjoy the super view of the Kigluaiks to the north, the ocean to the south, and the hills surrounding Nome. 

By:Tom Busch

ANVIL ROCK

ANVIL ROCK, elevation 1062.

  • Difficulty: Easy, though you gain about 600 feet of elevation.

  • Distance: About 1 mile, round trip.

Nome’s original name was "Anvil City," after this distinctive rock, some 4 miles north of downtown. You can drive to it, but why would you want to, when a hike to the summit takes you through one of the world’s most renowned wildflower locations.

From Nome, drive north onto the Teller Road. After the road curves west, about 3-1/2 miles from town, watch for a turn to the right, labeled "Glacier Creek Road." If you pass Nome-Beltz High School, you’ve gone ¼ mile too far. Glacier Creek Road takes you directly onto Anvil Mountain.

After the road veers left (west) along the side of the hill, look for a convenient place to park. For the safety of others, ensure that your parked vehicle is well visible from both directions.

Hike directly up, avoiding rocky and steep areas. At the top, you’ll enjoy an excellent view of the Kigluaik Mountains to the north, as well as the entire Nome basin.

Around the rock you’ll notice concrete, remains of a World War II gun emplacement. To the east are the four huge parabolic antennas of the White Alice Communications System, which the Air Force built in 1957 and turned off 14 years later. This connected arctic missile radar sites with Fairbanks via several hops. The easternmost antennas (one of which is currently used as an amateur radio repeater) point to Granite Mountain, in the central Seward Peninsula. The western antennas communicated with Northeast Cape on St. Lawrence Island, which then relayed signals to Tin City, about 90 miles northwest of Nome. The Anvil Mountain location could communicate with Tin City directly, but a beam from Anvil Mountain would have continued over Soviet territory and would have been vulnerable to Russian interception. 

By:Tom Busch