Hatcher Pass


Summit Lake


Marmott Hill

Marmot Bench

Launch: 3300’ MSL
LZ: 2800’ MSL
Vertical: 500’
Horizontal: 2,500’ (5:1 Glide)

Marmot Top

3800’ MSL
2800’ MSL
1000’
4000’ (4:1 Glide)

Nixon’s Nose

4000’
Varied
300’-1200’
Modest Glide

Summit Lake

3600’ MSL
3000’ MSL
600’
3600’ (6:1 Glide)

Site Description:

Hatcher Pass 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 recently 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.

Summit 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 more popular LZ'a are 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 by noon above the launch are good signs, however it can become overdeveloped quickly.

Requirements:

The Arctic Air Walkers pays annual fees to insure this site through USHGA. Contact an Arctic Air Walkers member for information on how to join the club.

Potential Hazards:

  • Turbulence 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 changing conditions.

Getting There:

East on International Airport Road

2.1 miles

North (left) on Minnesota to Tudor
0.4 miles
East (right) on Tudor which becomes Muldoon (after six miles) as it turns North
9.0 miles
Right on the Glen Highway, continue past Eagle River, Parks Hwy and Palmer
±45 Miles
Left 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.
±15 miles

This 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.

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