Pioneer Ridge Trail is a 13.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Palmer, Alaska that features beautiful wild flowers and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

Distance: 13.6 miles Elevation Gain: 6,637 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

snow

hiking
icy
muddy
off trail
snow
1 month ago

We started from the trailhead at about 8 AM. It was moderately posthole-y up to the picnic table. It then proceeded to intermittently get very deep in places—up to the thigh/waist. We had 3 people, so luckily we were able to switch off to break trail. It would have been much easier with snowshoes. We were definitely the first ones up past the knoll in a while. Once you get to about 3500’ you can trace the trail all the way up, and the snow is much, much better to walk on. We made it to the ridge (4.85 miles, 5300’ elevation) at about 2 PM. It was gorgeous, with panoramic views of the Chugach. Marcus Baker was towering in the distance. We decided to turn back at that point due to time constraints and conditions. We headed back down to find that the sun had “worked” on the trail while we ascended—some of the steps were as punchy as when we were climbing. The bottom also got fairly muddy, and there were at least 4 instances where one of us thought we’d get “mud butt.” We arrived back at the car around 6 PM, so it was a 10 hour day. The summit could likely be ascended as soon as the snow melts in a week or two. Highly recommended!

backpacking
fee
icy
snow
4 months ago

Tried soloing this one and made it about half way where I set up camp and called it a night. Very deep snow past the first bench and I would recommend bringing a friend to help break trail if your goal is to make it to the top. Very beautiful hike.

hiking
muddy
9 months ago

Very hard hike for me. Muddy and slippery going up and down. Trekking poles are helpful. Only went part way. No sight of bears. Super cloudy where I stopped then it started raining. Definitely hike with someone because you are in the woods for about an hour or so. Will have to come back and finish this hike!

hiking
scramble
10 months ago

Definitely one of the more difficult trails. It starts out, and carries, a nice incline, with easy dips here and there. Took the dogs and they had a blast.

Fri Sep 28 2018

beautiful hike. it is very easy to miss where the trail veers to the right near the top. we ended up following some sheep trail which was extremely rough and had to backtrack to find trail to top. would be nice if marked. cannot describe how beautiful the views are on this hike. very long day for my group, 9-9 1/2 hours

hiking
Mon Jul 30 2018

July 29. Great hike with amazing views. Give yourself plenty of time and bring plenty of water. If you plan to make it all the way to the end, be prepared for a narrow trail on the ridge next to a steep scree slope that requires a bit of scrambling. The descent is quite rough on the knees. Overall great hike. Enjoy!

hiking
Wed Jul 25 2018

This hike was breathtaking, recommend waiting for a clear day. Bring a change of socks or breathable footgear as the decent seemed endless on the feet and knees. Trail is not clearly marked toward the end of the ridge line, Cairns aren’t always visible. Stay right on the way up and be prepared to scramble a bit! Overall, well worth the effort but it is taxing so be prepared! We ran out of water half way down so bring a gallon per person minimum

Sat Jul 07 2018

Went with a group of 5 with varied experience (from a homegrown Alaskan to a first time visitor), and we all managed to make it to tracks end. Steady, rolling steep inclines made for a good challenge. Most made it on the ridge peak (advised for more experienced hikers) where it does get a bit more technical, lots of shale etc, but got turned around for various reason. If uncomfortable with heights/climbing etc that portion is not for you. Descent was just as steep and rolling so hope you don’t skip leg day. Advise to consider your water, if you’re thinking “should be enough” bring a little more. All in all fantastic experience with amazing scenery, would def give it another go!

hiking
Fri Jul 06 2018

Simply put, this was amazing....one of the best experiences in my life. For a more lengthy description.... for me, this was a hike of a lifetime. It was “one down on my bucket list”, and yes, I’ve heard of and plan to hike Kesugi, AT, CDT, and PCT.....in a perfect world. Prelude: This was my experience. Yours may differ. My reasons for a hike like this are my own. It wasn’t a race, nor was it for bragging rights. The best views are what’s important to me on a hike. That’s just one of the reasons why I did this hike. I’m in good shape, not just decent. But I’m not part goat either, like some people, so I use poles. The reviewer’s description is on point, with respect to difficulty. The first 3 miles of switch backing brush will wake up your thighs for sure. It was 02 July 2018 when I started this hike. The path was well marked with distance markers, not to be confused with elevation markers, up until about 30k. Where there was water in the brush, there was mud. Tall brush too, around the curves. Stay vigilant. Once you’re out of the brush, you’ll come to what I call “selfie rock”. Say goodbye to the roots, and hello to the rocks and soft tundra. The path up......AND I DO MEAN UP, to the ridge line is beautiful and aggressively taxing. There were so many times I stopped, smiled and laughed. This truly is an Alaskan gem. Once you’re on the ridge line to the ‘summit’, on a day like I had, words can’t describe the beauty. Keep pushing. You’ll lose the trail, find the trail, and climb over rock formations that you’ll think twice about yet do anyway. And that’s where I lost it. I think I was somewhere around 5400 feet in elevation, climbing (not hiking anymore...the sign at the entrance DID READ something like ‘experienced hikers only beyond this point’), when a rock that shouldn’t have broke in half under my feet, broke in half. According to the app, I was less than 1 mile away to the summit, but I decided to turn back. I ran into a few people who passed me on their way down. They said this wasn’t technically Pioneer Peak, but rather a false peak, and the true Pioneer Peak was two peaks after the app tells you to stop at. Heartbroken (again). Big thanks to the guys that let me follow them off the ridge, and to the woman in the red jacket that prayed for my leg. It helped after you all left. App said over 7k calories burned. I consumed 2gal of water, one from existing water source from way up top. FYI, make sure if you use a lifestraw, that it fits your jugs or use ziploc bags. I would do this again in a heartbeat. Follow me to see pics and other info if you wish. Cellphone died with a little over a mile left to the parking lot. Hope this helps someone. Take care.

hiking
Fri Jun 15 2018

This trail is a great workout if you like a constant incline. We seen a bear in the very far distance during this hike. The view at the top was well worth it, just be prepared for a serious day hike. Bring a jacket (tie it around your waste if you have to) as it can get super windy at the top.

hiking
Tue Nov 07 2017

The views are amazing. Time: We got to the trail at 10 am and back to the car by 7:30-8. By we, I mean I did this hike with my 10-12 yr old nephews, it’s all about keeping their mindset on track. Food: I packed enough food for 2 meals each for the hike and 3 liters of water. Then had them carry 2 oz waters. My nephew brought an MRE and a mini jet boiler, which totally came in handy when we got midway and it was raining and cold. Equipment: defiantly wish I would have brought paracord rope for us when we started scaling the rocky/shingle area. I brought all the other basics for hiking in Alaska. Watch out for underground bees on the trail, mynephew stepped on one and it defiantly kicked our butts in gear.

hiking
Mon Sep 18 2017

Beautiful trail. It was a challenge,the trail was a steep incline. If you plan to hike it do it In the morning.

hiking
Mon Aug 08 2016

Great trail - definitely strenuous, but doable. Views of the surrounding mountains and the Knick River and Knick Glacier are spectacular. Made it to the south summit in 5hrs, but lost the trail and my bearings in the clouds on the way down the summit ridge and from there it turned into a VERY long day. If you are just doing the ridge, the trail is easy to follow. If you plan on going all the way, then I'd recommend doing it on a clear day - for the views, and for safety. I'll be back to do this one again!

hiking
Tue Jul 07 2015

great hike. quite strenuous for those in good shape, but if you keep to the trail, it isn't too technical of a hike. We got split from the trail near the top and ended up having to climb up the side of the ridge. that was a bit scary, but on the way back, we kept to the trail and it wasn't hard, but it was muddy towards the bottom and we slipped quite a few times and fell on our butts. (it had been raining for about 15 days straight at this point and was raining the whole hike). Be in good shape and be a pretty experienced hiker before you try this.

Mon Sep 15 2014

Great trail Not confusing at all. Message me for info. Peak 2 next year!!

hiking
Wed Jun 04 2014

Pioneer-Ridge Austin Helmers Trail; incredible landscapes on the climb up -- rock / dirt / grass / snow / ice; every 100ft it was like a completely different trail; the most challenging and rewarding trail I have completed to date. Highly recommended!

hiking
Wed Jan 19 2011

You start this hiking in the woods with lots of up and down terrain but pretty easy. The bushes and trees are thick along with the mosquitoes. Eventually the trail gets pretty steep but solid footing. You will go over several small streams and can get muddy at times. You are very much in moose and bear country so be aware. You will definitely see them or at least their droppings and tracks along the way. After pushing hard to get out of the brush/woods you get above tree line. This is when the hike gets good. You can now periodically stop and take amazing views of the valley. The trail is pretty steady up with a few down hills as you work back to Pioneer Peak from the side. After hiking quite awhile you find yourself looking for another layer. The tundra and flowers are like nothing you have ever seen. It can get pretty windy from here on. You will hike a long ways on the ridgeline of mountains leading to Pioneer. You will also be crossing snow, no way around it. Once you get to Pioneer peak, the hike can get a little crazy if you want to get to the very top. Lots of boulders, loose shale rock, and up and down ridges to get to the highest point. You will be using your hands at times. Once you are at the top you swear you are at the top of the world. It's probably going to be cloudy but you might get lucky. It's pretty much straight down on all sides except the way you got to the point and it's not really a trail, just find your way for the most part. I do a lot of hiking and this trip was everything I hoped for. The views were incredible. Walking along the ridgeline of the mountains makes you feel like you are in a North Face commercial or something. Be careful on the way down. We got a little carried away and really felt it in the knees going down to fast on the bottom half of the trail. We just beat a rain storm. My sister, her husband, and I did this hike and we are all in good shape. I think it took us 6-7 hours to complete but can't remember for sure. Most of this hike isn't extremely difficult just strenuous inclines. The top 1/4 of this hike is a little more difficult and heights could become an issue if that's a problem for you.

hiking
25 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
7 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
8 months ago

hiking
9 months ago

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