AD Main Menu

Healthy New Year's: Free, guided cross-country skiing at Independence Mine park near Hatcher Pass

Alaska Dispatch
Pioneer Peak looms at the far end of the Matanuska Valley.
Stephen Nowers photo
Snow covers the rails leaving the Independence Mine water tunnel.
A pair of ptarmigan in their winter plumage hide in plain sight at Independence Mine.
Stephen Nowers photo
A skier climbs a short rise in Independence Mine State Park.
Stephen Nowers photo
Snow covers an entrance to the apartment house in Independence Mine.
Skiers explore the mine buildings in Hatcher Pass.
Stephen Nowers photo
A visitor skis past the No. 1 Bunkhouse.
Stephen Nowers photo

Looking for a healthy and inexpensive way to ring in the New Year? Look no farther than Independence Mine State Historical Park at Hatcher Pass, about an hour and a half north of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city.

Alaska State Parks rangers will host willing and able Alaskans on New Year's Day for a free, guided cross-country ski through the scenic park, which offers excellent touring opportunities for beginners and moderate skiers.

It's all part of the First Day Hikes program, an initiative across all 50 states that encourages healthy activities on Jan. 1.

The two-to-three-mile guided tour begins at Independence Mine around noon on Tuesday, Jan. 1, and lasts until 4 p.m. Unfortunately, dogs are not welcome on the excursion.

Hot cocoa will be provided afterward, according to this press release on the state parks website:

(Anchorage, AK) – Alaska State Parks is sponsoring a staff-led “First Day” family classic skiing event at Independence Mine State Historical Park on New Year’s Day, to connect families with their local State Park areas during the winter, and to start the year with a fun and healthy activity. This event is inspired by a national “First Day Hike” initiative to connect people to their State Parks in all 50 states.

This guided event will be two to three miles starting at the Independence Bowl parking area at noon on Jan. 1, 2013. It is appropriate for all skiers capable of controlling their classic skis using snowplow and herringbone techniques on gentle inclines.

“Our First Day Hike in 2012 was a great success! It was a fun way to start the New Year, and the families who joined us to play in the snow had a wonderful time,” said Darcy Harris, State Trails Program Coordinator.

The $5 parking fee at Independence Mine State Historical Park will be waived on New Year’s Day. For directions to the park please visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/ , and to find out more about Independence Mine State Historical Park please visit http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/indmine.htm. In the event of extreme or inclement weather, (high winds, blizzard, or rain storm) please call 907-269-8698 after 10 a.m. on Jan. 1, for a cancellation notification. Please leave your four-legged buddies at home but bring a friend! We hope to see you there!

Driving Directions: Independence Mine State Historical Park is only an hour and 20 minutes away from Anchorage, and 20 minutes from either Palmer or Wasilla. Take the Glenn Highway to Palmer. Then take the Palmer-Fishhook road north of Palmer from Mile 49.5 on the Glenn Highway that leads to the east side of Hatcher Pass. Drive up the road to the last open parking area not far from the Hatcher Pass lodge. Look for an Alaska State Parks pickup truck, where you will find your friendly guide.