Walk up Nome Creek

View up the the Nome Creek Valley in the White Mountain National Recreation Area, Alaska
View up the the Nome Creek Valley in the White Mountain National Recreation Area, Alaska | Purchase Print

One of my favorite places I like to head when I only have half a day is Nome Creek in the White Mountain National Recreation Area. It’s a gorgeous spot, with fairly easy hiking at the onset, and I rarely run into many people in the area. The trail runs pretty far to a small ridge that leads to Mt. Prindle, which turns out to be a 19-mile hike round-trip, but there’s a lot to explore on the mountains and ridges closer to the parking area.

On Friday, June 11, 2021, I drove out to the trailhead, stopping at an overlook on US Creek Road. I’m in wildflower mode since I’m trying to photograph as many as I can during our short summer for my wildflower guide. Of course, the moment I stopped the truck it started to pour.

This little overlook has one of the best views in the White Mountains. There are stunning vistas in all directions. It really allows you to see how expansive the White Mountains are. I frequently compare them to the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire without all the towns, roads, and trails. Just wide-open country.

landscape from an overlook on US Creek Road, Alaska
View to the west from the overlook
Snow arnica, also known as frigid arnica
There was frigid arnica all over the top of the hill

The road was in rough shape this year. It looks like there was a lot of wash-out on the west side of the road, making it effectively 1.5 lanes for much of the stretch down the hill. After crossing the bridge, the rest of the way to the Mt. Prindle campground and parking area was alright, just the normal washboards and potholes.

Nome Creek is one of the trails in the Whites where there are no ATVs allowed, so the trail is fairly narrow and a bit overgrown in places. The trail starts with a ford of the creek, which was running about knee-high. A second fording of a smaller stream led to a still sizeable snowfield that had cool little formations where some vegetation insulated the snow beneath.

Snow formations from fallen spruce needles
Snow formations from fallen spruce needles and other vegetation

After walking out of the woods, the trail opens up to some of the taller Mountains in the area. The landscape is mostly open tundra with spruce stands dotted across the hillsides. And there were a lot of wildflowers this year! I was here around the same time last year and didn’t see nearly the number of flowers. It’s really kind of cool to see the diversity in flora from year-to-year.

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mountain landscape of nome creek
Emerging view through the trees
arctic willow flowers
Arctic willow flowers blooming on the side of the trail
yellow thimbleweed or yellow anemone flowers
Yellow thimbleweed, also known as yellow anenome

My usual hikes here take me to the ridges on the east side of the trail where I typically get a better break from the mosquitoes and some great views of the valley. This day I stuck to the trail since there were so many flowers, especially near the creek. I was lucky with the bugs, all the storms in the area had the wind really whipping through the valley and there were next-to-no bugs to deal with. I also only had a few sprinkles on me through the afternoon (although there was definitely thunder rumbling to the north).

Narcissus-flowered anemone flowers
The narcissus-flowered anemone is one of the most widespread flowers in the interior of Alaska
Stream and mountains in the White Mountain National Recreation Area, Alaska
Gorgeous scenery when the trail once again meets the creek

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In My Camera Bag Now

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Funny story. I had to hop out on the rocks to take the above photo. A few seconds later, I decided to try to cross on the very rounded and wobbly rocks. If you guessed I fell in, you are correct. It would have been amusing to watch as I held the camera high above my head to keep it dry. I succeeded, although my pants were soaked up to my upper thighs.

My plan to turn around at 4:00 was thrown from the bus when I looked at my watch and saw it was 6:30 pm. Luckily, there’s no shortage of light this time of year. But, I was pretty wet, so I figured now was as good of a time as any.

Western arctic shootingstar flowers
Western arctic shootingstar was all over near the creekbed. Such a unique looking flower! | Purchase Print
nakedstem wallflowers under a mountain
The fields were full of nakedstem wallflower (Parry’s wallflower) at about mile-4 along the trail | Purchase Print

I reluctantly turned back so that I could do things like “eat dinner” and “go to sleep”. These are actually things that I occasionally miss out on during our long summer nights. It’s so easy to be outside having fun, and then realize it’s midnight.

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Rain showers in a valley
Gorgeous view of some showers in the valley on the drive home

You can check out all the photos from the day here: June 11, 2021 – Nome Creek

Or my photo gallery of the Nome Creek/Mt. Prindle area.

Hiking info is at the link below. Thanks for reading!


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