Trip Report for July 20, 2023 – Summit Trail to Wickersham Dome

Trip Report for July 20, 2023 – Summit Trail to Wickersham Dome

As we near the end of the wildflower season in the Alaska Interior, I’ve been chasing the last traces of summer color, embarking on quick day trips to capture the late-bloomers and the resilient remnants from early summer. Thursday, I made a speedy ascent of Wickersham Dome via the Summit Trail in the hope of finding some new species for my Alaska Wildflower Guide.

It had rained all morning, so I was prepared for lots of mosquitoes and mud. They both turned out to be relatively mild. Despite the constant hum of mosquitoes in the air, I’ve battled denser clouds of them in these parts before. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much left for flowers, especially at the lower elevations. The flowers that remained or were just blooming were very common in the interior, offering little to add to my guide.

A little cloudy on the summit of Wickersham Dome from the Summit Trail
New boardwalk to avoid the mud

A freshly constructed section of boardwalk is a welcome addition along the lower part of the trail. Nestled in the shallow saddle that links an open ridge a mile in with the initial stages of the Wickersham climb, it offers a smooth walk, guarding against muddy boots with its dry and sturdy footing.

Shortly before turning off the trail to head for the summit ridge, I was greeted with hundreds of twinflowers (Linnea borealis) adorning the side of the rocky trail.

Tiny pink twinflowers along the trail, easy to miss if you don’t get down on the ground
View from the Dome with the Elliott Highway snaking around the valley below

As I neared the top of the ridge, the clouds were starting to clear. I passed quite a bit of monkshood, another super common flower in these parts. Other than that, not much flora remained up top. I wandered around for about 30 minutes before deciding to turn back.

Despite the fact that it was a short trip and somewhat unproductive, it was a gorgeous day to be outside, if not a little hot and humid. My total moving time was a little over 2 hours, covering 6.6 miles and 1,400 feet of elevation gain. It was a great hike despite not getting the work done that I had hoped. I did manage to photograph one flower that I don’t think I’ve photographed before (and don’t yet have in the guide), the alpine bistort (Bistorta vivipara – guide forthcoming), although I must admit it was underwhelming.

Alpine bistort along the Summit Trail

For more info on this hike near Fairbanks, Alaska, check my trail guide here: Wickersham Dome Trail (Summit Trail).

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