— Wrangell Plateau Basecamp Mini-Backpack Itinerary —

The Details

Pleasant Tundra Hiking and Expansive Mountain Views – Full Itinerary

alaska small plane accessDAY 1 – Your Alaska basecamp mini-backpacking adventure begins in the rustic bush town of McCarthy, at the old Motherlode Powerhouse (our St. Elias Alpine Guides home base). Here, you’ll meet up with your guide, pack some delicious snacks, and go through the gear checklist to make sure you’ve brought everything you need for your trip. Next, you’ll head up to the McCarthy airstrip and jump into a tiny bush plane for the beautiful flight to Wrangell Plateau. Be sure to have your camera ready to capture the rugged mountain scenery!

With a little bump, your pilot will expertly land the tiny plane on the backcountry airstrip. After unloading your equipment, you and your guide will step back and watch as the plane lifts off into the air. As the buzz of the motor fades, take a minute to appreciate the remoteness of the Wrangell Mountains. Loading up your packs, you’ll take off across the rolling tundra of the plateau, exploring the alpine lakes (maybe even taking a swim), and setting up camp in a protected location with views up toward Mt. Wrangell.

mt wrangell alaskaDAY 2 –Waking to incredible views and a delicious hot breakfast cooked by your guide, you develop your plan for the day. Leaving camp set-up as it is, you can get an earlier start (no need to pack everything up), and can enjoy hiking with lighter packs as you explore the plateau today. You may choose to hike over to the lip of Cheshnina Falls, reveling in the thunderous roar of the water flowing from the Cheshnina Glacier as it rolls off the shoulders of Mt. Wrangell. You may decide to follow the river as it flows down the plateau. Wherever you hike, you’re sure to be amazed by the vastness of the landscape. After a full day of hiking, you’ll return to camp, enjoy a delicious hot dinner, and share tales of the day’s adventures.

wrangell glacier viewsDAY 3 – The morning of the third day breaks clear and cool, and you’re excited for a full day of hiking before a beautiful bush plane flight home. A great option for your final day is to descend down to the Long Glacier (with day packs only!), and spend the afternoon exploring the glacier’s edge before the climbing back up to the plateau.

With tired legs, you relax alongside the airstrip, taking in the views while listening for the telltale buzz of a bush plane. The adventure isn’t over yet, as a flight through the mountains is always the best way to cap off a backcountry trip. Enjoying the rugged views, you eventually touch down in McCarthy, fantasizing about a hot shower and a hot meal, excited to share the tales of your adventures with your fellow travelers. What a trip!

alaska small plane on tundraWHAT’S INCLUDED?

  • Guiding and instruction from skilled professionals. Our personable guides have extensive experience and local knowledge, as well as medical and rescue training.
  • Bush plane flights to and from the backcountry.
  • Delicious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners while in the backcountry, including hot and delicious meals morning and evening, and plenty of trail snacks and lunch food for mid-day nourishment.
  • Group equipment: stoves, pots, tents, fuel, etc.
  • Technical gear: crampons, ice axes (if needed for route)


  • Personal gear – check the gear list for this trip for a complete description.
  • Transportation to and from McCarthy (see below).
  • Lodging for the nights before and after your trip (see below).
  • Food while not in the backcountry.
  • Guide gratuity – Please let us know if you have any questions about this.

If you would like us to arrange your transportation to McCarthy/Kennecott and/or lodging while in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, we offer this as a free service to our multi-day clients. Please email or give us a call to discuss the details.

Download Itinerary (PDF)

“A fantastic experience — wild Alaska at its best!”

Click on the markers below to view important points along your trip. Check out that zoom feature!

— Trip Finder —

Choose your trip by adventure type, length of stay and travel month

Start typing and press Enter to search