Launch: 3300’ MSL
Horizontal: 2,500’ (5:1 Glide)
3600’ (6:1 Glide)
has been the paragliding and hang gliding playground in the state
for decades. Above tree line, there are limitless places to launch
though the three main areas are Marmot, Nixon’s Nose (right),
and Summit Lake (aka Lake Hill). The road to Marmot has been
paved as well as the large parking lot at the base to access
is now much easier. Hiking on established trails to launch (after
the snow melt) is not too difficult, though good hiking boots
with ankle support are recommended.
Marmot and Nixon’s nose each require about a 30-minute hike and are typically
regarded as ridge soaring sites. Some thermals occur in the summer, particularly
in front of Marmot or Summit Lake launch. Summit Lake is also the only mountain
site in south central Alaska where launch is within 100 yards of parking. With
all the sites, sights, and options at Hatcher Pass it’s easy to see why
it is the favored area for summer flying.
Launches exist in
all directions at various sites. Slope launches on alpine tundra.
Lake: drive up launch. Launch to northwest.
Nixon's Nose: almost any direction from ridge.
Marmot: from benches 500-1000' up hill, generally to south.
Landing is wide open. No landing on roadway except in emergencies.
Surface is mostly alpine vegetation/tundra. Elevations vary but the
Hatcher Pass Lodge, and ``A'' frame at the 3000' level of Independence
Valley, and near the parking lot at the 2800' level.
Works Best When:
Mid to late summer
see the most flying activity, though winter flying there can be good
fun as long as you have a friend with a snowmobile to haul you up the
mountain. The road to Nixon’s Nose and Summit Lake is typically
not open before Independence day weekend and the hike up Marmot before
June can be difficult and soggy due to snow. When the flying kicks
in, XC flights around the valleys are not uncommon.
Winds from just
about any direction can be flyable at Hatcher Pass, though the east
winds off of Knik Glacier are typically not favorable. Cumulus clouds
noon above the launch are good signs, however it can become overdeveloped quickly.
Arctic Air Walkers pays annual fees to insure this site through USHGA.
Contact an Arctic Air Walkers member for information on how to join
in winds over 15 mph caused by rocky terrain. Dust devils coming
up gullies on very warm thermally days. Rotor/extreme sink between
pass and A-frame lodge valley on strong wind days.
- Beware of creek
beds, boulders and uneven landing areas.
- Marmot can get
overdeveloped quickly and cloud suck will ruin your day. Watch for
East on International Airport Road
(left) on Minnesota to Tudor
(right) on Tudor which becomes Muldoon (after six miles) as it
on the Glen Highway, continue past Eagle River, Parks Hwy and Palmer
on Palmer Fishhook road. Stay on road as it winds up Hatcher Pass.
The large parking area on the right marks the trailhead up Marmot.
Continue up the road, left at the A-Frame cabins (gate is normally
locked until July) up the gravel road to Nixon’s nose at
the summit (trail on the right) or just starting down the backside
of the pass to summit lake.
site description is by no means meant to be complete. Contact
a local pilot for a briefing before flying any site and fly within
your USHGA rating limits.