Tips and Special Features
The combination of a relatively short bus ride and abundant alpine terrain makes a trip into this unit a good way to sample the landscape that is typical of the central and western portions of the Park Road corridor. Consequently, it is a popular unit and fills regularly during the summer season. The numerous interconnected drainages on Cathedral Mountain provide many opportunities for short, easy hikes into alpine terrain.
Primary access points are from the Teklanika Rest Stop, Igloo Campground, Teklanika River Bridge and anywhere along Cathedral Mountain. This area can be reached by a 1 – 1.5 hour bus ride.
Common Routes and Hiking Corridors
Unit 6 is large and diverse; parties can spend from one to seven nights and not run out of things to see and do. The low ridge systems east of the Teklanika Campground and Teklanika River Bridge can be used as routes to cross over into the middle part of the Sanctuary River (Unit 5) or for a quick overnight trip. A tempting access point for trips south is the Teklanika River Bridge on the Park Road. However, there is frequently a seasonal wildlife closure here that encompasses the entire area south of the bridge to Double Mountain - making travel here illegal. A good alternative to avoid the closure is to begin on the south side of the Igloo Creek Bridge (just past Igloo Creek Campground) and hike east to the river. The hike to the river is through spruce forests and wet tundra.
For short overnight trips or day hikes, there are a number of drainages leading from the Park Road up into Cathedral Mountain. At nearly 5,000 feet and with multiple summits, Cathedral Mountain has high tundra, scree slopes, and a multitude of ridges and nooks to explore. Traveling around the south side of Cathedral Mountain is another good way to reach the major travel corridor of the Teklanika River.
The Teklanika River is a wide, open gravel bar and the stream is well-braided from its headwaters to the confluence with Calico Creek (about 3.5 miles south from Igloo Campground). The river is generally crossable (except during major rain events) south of Calico Creek. All summer, crossings north of Calico Creek are far more difficult and sometimes impossible on foot. Traveling downstream on the east side of the Teklanika River north of Calico Creek is not recommended as there are few crossings to get you back to the Park Road. The steep and rocky pass at the headwaters of Calico Creek is a way to drop into the Upper Sanctuary River (Unit 5). Important information about the east side of this pass is provided in the Unit 5 description.