Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes
ElevationAscent: 746' 228 m
Descent: -351' -107 m
High: 1,555' 474 m
Low: 860' 262 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 16% (9°)
“A trail from the park road to the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.”— Abe H
Backpacking the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes takes a bit of planning as you first have to get to Katmai NP, which requires at least one float plane ride from Anchorage. You'll also likely need to spend a night at Katmai, which is either pricey and/or requires reservations well in advance, in order to take the morning bus ride to the end of the park road that crosses three streams. The park's concessionaire tour bus driver will know where the trailhead is, as it is located about a half a mile from the end of the road where the tour bus stops for lunch.
From the park road, the trail descends rather quickly through vegetation filled with cow parsnip. Once the terrain flattens, the woods open up and you are able to get a view of the valley. At about mile 1.5, you'll encounter Windy Creek, which is a great place to camp for the return trip. After crossing the creek, the trail takes you up above the creek drainage, and you continue eastward to the valley. The trail follows the base of the Buttress Range and vegetation becomes more and more scarce and the trail becomes more and more sandy. At mile 6, there is a nice waterfall, which makes for another camping option. From there, there is no distinct trail as there are several destinations: the dilapidated hut, lakes at the base of Mageik, Katmai Pass, Novarupta, Mount Griggs, among others.
This trail is rated difficult due to the hazards present, such as Knife Creek and River Lethe that have resulted in several deaths. The trail itself is otherwise quite flat with a few obstacles.
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Photos, Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Flora & Fauna
Land Manager: NPS - Katmai National Park