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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Alaska GuideInterior Hiking

Wickersham Dome Gallery

Popular ForDayhiking, cross-country ski, fat-bike, dog-mushing/skijoring, overnight in BLM cabins
TypeOut-and-back
DifficultyEasy – moderate (steep sections)
Length6.6+ miles roundtrip (10.6 km)
Elevation Gain/Loss1300-1550 ft./396-472m
RegionFairbanks – White Mountain National Recreation Area
Location27.7-mile Elliott Highway
ParkingLarge lot

Overview

Wickersham Dome 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 to 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) 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 to not 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.

Sunset from the lower section of Wickersham Dome Trail
Sunset along the lower trail

Wickersham Dome Trail

The Wickersham Dome Trail begins 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.

Wooden trail marker along the Wickersham Dome Trail in the White Mountains
Wooden trail marker along the first mile stretch

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:

BLM Cabin Information

BLM Cabin Reservations

The mud-walk through the forest – This stretch is much friendlier in winter

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, 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 windshelter 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 map).

A hiker nears rock outcroppings in the snow below the summit of Wickersham Dome
Approaching the lower rock outcroppings
A hoary marmot near the summit of Wickersham Dome in the White Mountain National Recreation Area
Hoary Marmot near the windshelter
hiker jumping at the summit of Wickersham Dome
Celebrating a great day at the rock cairn at the summit

Directions

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 for 26.2 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!

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