|Popular For||Dayhiking, cross-country ski, fat-bike, dog-mushing/skijoring, overnight in BLM cabins|
|Difficulty||Easy – moderate (steep sections)|
|Length||6.6+ miles roundtrip (10.6 km)|
|Elevation Gain/Loss||1300-1550 ft./396-472m|
|Region||Fairbanks – White Mountain National Recreation Area|
|Location||27.7-mile Elliott Highway|
|Parking||Large lot for the Summit Trail and Wickersham Creek Trail|
The Wickersham Dome Trail (Summit Trail) is a 6-7 mile out-and-back hike that travels through boreal forest to rocky alpine tundra. The established trail doesn’t go all the way to the summit, but it’s easy to find the way to the top. The first set of rock outcroppings brings you some great views of the White Mountains and open landscapes. This is a popular turn-around, although you can hike to the actual summit where there is a radio tower and (slightly) a better view of the area. Going to the summit will require a bit of navigation, but the majority of the trail is easy to follow.
This trail can be hiked year-round, and a good portion of it is groomed in the winter. It tends to be much less crowded than many of the Chena River State Rec Area hikes like Angel Rocks. Portions of the trail are moderately steep, but it tends not to be a very strenuous hike. There are great views to be had at 3 miles and 1300 ft. of elevation gain, making for a fairly easy 6-mile hike.
The Summit Trail
The trail to Wickersham Dome begins on the Summit Trail near the parking entrance on the north side of the lot. It follows a wide, well-marked path along some rocky ridges and open tundra. After the first mile, the trail drops into the forest. This section can be very wet in the summer, even with boards laid down in the mud, so bring boots. After 0.4 miles in the forest, turn left at the trail junction toward the summit trail shelter.
If you wish for more adventure and great multi-day cross-country skiing in the winter, head to the Summit Trail Shelter (beyond Wickersham Dome). You can find more information about the cabins and making reservations on the BLM website here:
The trail begins to climb slowly out of the valley along the southeast flank of Wickersham Dome. To head to the summit, you’ll need to turn left off the main trail. You may see a social trail about 0.8 miles beyond the Summit Cabin junction. In winter, it may be easier to turn earlier; the rocky flanks are easy to see through the trees, and it’s not far to get out of the woods. Make sure to mark where you leave the trail so you can find your way back down! In winter and spring, you may often need snowshoes for this stretch, as the snow can be quite deep and post-holing difficult.
Continue uphill to the closest rocky outcroppings. There’s a stone wind shelter here with a USGS marker. I’ve often encountered marmots here. This makes a good turn-around. The view doesn’t get much better if you continue to the top. Otherwise, follow the low-angle ridge gradually to the summit to the north, where suddenly a radio tower comes into view (0.5 miles from the first outcropping – blue trail on the map).
From Fairbanks, head north on the Steese Highway (AK-2). In Fox, stay straight (becoming the Elliott Hwy – still AK-2). Follow the Elliott Highway to mile 27.7 miles (about 35 minutes). The Wickersham Dome Trailhead is a well-marked pull-off on the right as you near the top of a hill.
If you’ve hiked this trail recently, please feel free to post trail conditions in the comments below!