Stampede Trail Reports

Have you hiked the Stampede Trail recently? We are always looking for up to date trail reports. What we need are the accounts of hikers who have recently done the trail. Be sure to include the date, conditions, time it took you, any wildlife sightings, and other information you feel is pertinent. Any photos you can provide will also be appreciated (and you will be credited for your work.) Send submissions to


Submitted By:


David's Trail Report

I just heard from David, who attempted the Stampede Trail recently with his son. Here's what he had to say:

"We went September 9th. Hunting season made the trail VERY mucky. The 6 wheelers made the conditions of the trail worse, plus on top of that, when they drove through the trail path the water/puddles they drove through would splash all up on the bushes on each side of the trail. So, when you tried to walk around the puddles and straddle the sides of the bushes, that would make you and your gear you were carrying all muddy. Blaaaa This was the highest the water has ever been said most hunters. If Chris and I do go again, it will not be during hunting season."

"The nights were not too cold. Lots of low clouds in the morning though so trying to hang wet clothes out to dry didn't work so well.

"And please note....... the hunters don't like us going to the bus, they call us Granola Crunchers. Hahaha"

"The Savage was up to our knees and a little higher. Very fast moving too. Most of the hunters we'd talk to said it was too high for this time of year, but because it had been raining off and on for the past 32 days. So naturally the Tek would have been impossible to walk through. Needless to say my son and I were very disappointed. With all the rain and bad weather we'd faced it was heart-breaking to not be able to continue. Man we walked through hell to get that far. Huge puddles and mud up to our knees in some areas, but we had a blast doing it! We'd ever thought about going over to the Denali side and hiking in from that side but a well knowledged camper said it was way longer from that side.... some 30 miles."

David also said he'd have some pictures for us pretty soon. Can't wait to see them!


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Adam's Trail Report

"I started out shortly after 8:30 in the morning from Earthsong Lodge which is at Mile 4 of the Stampede Rd. This meant the round trip journey to the bus would be about 48 miles. I started out and made quick time walking to the 8 mile turnout, seeing a few Ptarmigan along the roadside on the way. At the 8 mile turnout there were no cars so I thought I might be on my own on the trail. I started down the ATV only trail and was suprised by the amount of jeep and ATV tracks in the mud that looked fresh, as it turns out quite a few commercial companies come out to 4x4 this trail along the first 5 miles or so. About 3 miles down the ATV trail there was a camp of moose hunters, But nobody was around. The trail is in good shape for the first 5 miles, very little water, certainly nothing more than a couple inches deep and mostly dried up streambeds. After about 5 miles you pass a sign saying the trail is no longer recommended for 4x4 and that you will get stuck, after this the trail conditions worsen slightly as they become pretty muddy through an open tundra area. Most of this mud is avoidable by just detouring slightly off the trail to go around it, and there are multiple already broken in routes that do just that. Here on the Tundra I ran into an Italian couple who were coming up behind me as I stopped for lunch. They only had fanny packs and walking sticks so I knew they weren't coming for an extended stay, But they said they were going to the Teklanika so I travelled with them. 2 Miles after the open tundra is the only place where the trail disappears into long 6-8 inch deep puddles. There was only maybe 4 of these though and it was easy to find previously bushwhacked routes around them."

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Information From Matthieu the French Traveler

I recently recieved an email from a man I've been in contact with, named Matthieu. He just hiked the Stampede Trail and was actually out there when the accident occured involving the Swiss woman. He was not the french traveler accompanying her though. He did see the helicopter and was apparently made aware of what had happened. Two other hikers and he, continued on though and crossed the Teklanika river. It was a difficult crossing, but after they visited the bus, they found it even more difficult to return. The river was chest depth, and Matthieu said they barely were able to make it back across the river.

Mattieu said he would never attempt the Stampede Trail again when the Teklanika was running that high. Alaska has had a lot of rain this summer. Be safe. Use Good Judgement. Thanks to Mattieu for the update!


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Another Update On Teklanika Accident

The Anchorage Daily News has updated their article about the young lady who drowned in the Teklanika last Saturday:

A Swiss woman who drowned on Saturday was trying to ford the Teklanika River less than a mile from the famous bus where Chris McCandless died almost two decades ago.

On Saturday, Claire Jane, 29, was backpacking the Stampede Trail in Denali National Park & Preserve with a partner from France, whose name has not been released but who was around the same age, said Alaska State Trooper Eric Jeffords. They attempted to ford the Teklanika River, just north of Healy. The famous bus was just on the other side of the river, though Jane's partner told troopers that is not where they were heading.

Here's what Jeffords was told happened before he got to the scene:

The pair had met traveling and they had been in Alaska for around two months. They were about 13 miles into their trip but were unfamiliar with the terrain.

Jeffords estimated they tried to ford the river around 4 p.m. To help brace themselves against the fast-moving water, they each tied one end of a rope around their waists. They then tied their rope to another rope strung between two trees on opposite sides of the bank. But that rope had too much slack.

The river was running high and both Jane and her partner were swept off their feet. Jane was unable to regain her footing. The rope between the two trees drooped into the water, keeping her rope under as well. She was stuck underwater.

Her partner was eventually able to cut his rope and let the river carry him to the bank. He then ran back up the bank, waded into the river and cut Jane's rope. The two were then swept about 300 yards downstream of the trail. Jane's partner attempted to give her CPR but was unsuccessful.

After he attempted to revive her, he ran back up the trail and met another group of hikers, which relayed the message on to a bicyclist, who went for help.

Troopers were notified around 5:45 p.m. Saturday and got to the scene at around 8:30 p.m. A National Park Service helicopter recovered her body.

Jeffords said people often get lost in that area while looking for the bus where McCandless died in 1992. The story was made famous by Jon Krakauer's book "Into the Wild", which was made into a movie in 2007.

Jeffords said there are at least five search and rescues there each summer.

"It's a pretty well used trail but it gets pretty unpredictable around the river," Jeffords said. "Sometimes it might not be that big of a deal to cross it and sometimes, if it rains a lot or there is a lot of snow melt, that river can get pretty dangerous."

Alaska State Troopers say the woman, identified as 29-year-old Claire Jane Ackerman of Switzerland, was found about 300 yards downstream.

You can read the original article here:

That gives us a lot clearer picture of what happened.

NEVER string a line perpendicular to the flow of a river to cross on. Once it comes under tension (when you fall and the river is pushing on you) It turns into an inescapable V. Short of cutting yourself free you will be held under water by the force of the river and drowned. If you are going to use a line make sure it is strung at a steep diagonal across the river and downstream.

This is a common mistake. In general I don't recommend tying into the rope at all, favoring instead the idea of just using it as a handrail. That way, in the worst case scenario, you can let go. You will be swept downstream but you won't be pinned under the water.

The best way to cross a river is just to link arms with a group of people though. You can hold a long stick across your chests for added stability. Make sure you undo the buckles of your packs in case you do get taken down stream and need to shed your pack. Also, crossing during the night, the water level drops (very slightly) due to the reduction in glacial melt-off.

Most importantly though, if it's just too high then it's just too high. Don't risk your life to make it to the bus. It's a neat place but it's not worth your life.

Stay safe guys. I don't want to read about any of you in the paper.


Submitted By:


Update On Teklanika Drowning

The Fairbanks News Miner is now reporting the name of the woman who drowned in the Teklanika River:

Alaska State Troopers say the woman, identified as 29-year-old Claire Jane Ackermann of Switzerland, was found about 300 yards downstream.

You can read the original article here:

If anything more develops in this story I'll be sture to post it here. Personally I'm still wondering about the conditions that led up to the tragedy. Hopefully as the investigation continues we'll learn something more that will help us avoid loss like this again. So sad.


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Drowning Death At Teklanika Crossing

Heart-breaking news in the Anchorage Daily News Today:

A woman drowned Saturday after being swept down the Teklanika River just north of Healy, Alaska State Troopers report.

She was trying to cross the river on the Stampede Trail and was found about 300 yards downstream, troopers said. Attempts to revive her were unsuccessful. A National Park Service helicopter recovered her body.

Troopers say her family hasn't yet been notified and her name isn't being released. Troopers learned of the incident around 5:45 p.m. Saturday. They are investigating what happened.

You can read the original article here:

I'll be sure to update you all as more is known about this tragic accident. I'd really like to talk to someone who has been out there recently. I'm wondering if the water is extraordinarily high because of all the rain or something. Anyway, stay safe and be careful. The Teklanika is a serious river. My prayers are with her family.

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