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Martin Mine – Hatcher Pass Alaska
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Overview
Location

Hatcher Pass, near Wasilla, Alaska

Sights

Lots of mining relics, Independence Mine State Historic Park

Distance

I hiked about two miles round trip

Parking Lot Elevation

3455 ft

Summit Elevation

4286 ft

Elevation Gain/Loss

831 ft

Time Required

2-3 hours

Pets

Allowed on leash. The hike to the Martin Mine is very steep and not pet friendly. Independence Mine State Historical Park has dog friendly trails.

Fees

$5 entrance fee. You can park outside the guard station if you like.

Water Info

Bring two liters of water

Best Season

Summer

Hours

9 am to 5 pm.
The guard station closes at 5 pm so you need to be out before the gate is locked. Just part outside the gate and you are still allowed to hike after hours.

Sun Exposure

There are no trees in Hatcher Pass to provide any shade

Trail Condition

Trail to the Martin Mine is narrow and disappearing. It is very steep, rocky and muddy.

Restrooms

Yes. Outhouse style at the guard station and also at the Independence Mine State Historical Park lot.

Visitor Center

Yes. At Independence Mine State Historical

Camping

Allowed in designated camping areas outside of Hatcher Pass

Food

Bring snacks as needed

Equipment

Good hiking shoes

Family Friendly?

Not really

GPS Coordinates

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Driving Directions


The Trail:

I didn’t know the name of this mine until I did some research when I got back home.  This mine is called the Martin Mine, part of the Willow Creek mining district.  The Martin Mine was originally called the Alaska Free Gold Mine and was later consolidated with the giant Independence Mine.

The Martin Mine produced gold, copper and lead and miners extracted 28,000 ounces of gold between 1911 and 1920.

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Hatcher Pass is an incredible area with creeks, lakes, tall mountains and lush green meadows.  Here are some pictures of the the drive to Hatcher Pass coming from Wasilla.

This area is probably most famous for the Independence Mine State Historic Park.  Check out the Independence Mine Trek after you read this one!

The Independence Mine park has tons of mine artifacts and trails for you to explore.  I was planning on just hiking around the Independence Mines part this day but I was looking around the tops of the mountains with my camera and saw a shack way high up and decided to try and get to it if possible.

The next few pictures are from the Independence Mine State Historical Park portion of this trek.

I eventually found a narrow trail that zigzagged up about 800 ft in elevation which came right to the abandoned shack.  On the way up this trail you will see lots of scrap metal, old food cans and wood pieces from who knows what.  The trail was very steep and it disappeared in several spots – I got off trail a few times and figured I would just keep hiking up.   It wasn’t difficult hiking but it was just very steep.

The picture above is the start of the trail to the Martin Mine.

Along the way I heard lots of pika squeaking.  I saw maybe a dozen or so pika among the rocks but that was the extent of wildlife I found.

I’m sure the miners built this path to the mine – it was still in decent condition!  Except for the parts where the trail disappeared…

There are TONS of interesting mining relics here.

GPS coordinates will not be posted so as to protect this place as much as possible.

  

You could see where the miners dug out the side of the hill so they could create level space for machinery and buildings.

Here is a picture of one of the tailings piles – it was mostly dirt.

There were a few other broken down buildings and towers.

The shack had an incredible view of the valley below.  I could see several tailings piles around but I’m sad to say that the mines were all caved or closed.   Hiking all this way was still worth it and even worth a return trip to hike to the summit of this mountain to see what else is around.

The shack has two rooms with two beds and some cool stuff inside.

 

Personal Thoughts:

While I was sad none of the mines were open, I was still happy to discover thousands of artifacts and the cool miners shack still standing.  If you haven’t been to Hatcher Pass before, you are missing out on an incredible adventure!
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Ratings (out of 10)
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Difficulty
5.0
Technicality
4.5
Enjoyment
7.4
The Bottom Line

Difficulty is basically the length, duration and stress of the Trek. If the Trek is really long then it will receive a higher rating. If the Trek is short then it won't receive that high of a rating. However, difficulty rating also includes how tired we were at the end of the Trek.

Technicality is how strenuous the Trek is. If there is lots of bouldering or if there is bushwhacking involved then the rating will be higher. Technicality also includes if there are steep inclines or the need for ropes and other equipment.

Enjoyment is strictly how much fun we had doing the Trek. Regardless of how tired and exhausted we were, if we had a ton of fun doing the Trek then it will receive a higher rating.

7.1
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About The Author
Jeff Johnson
Questions or comments? I'd love to hear from you! JeffTJohnson@ymail.com

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