Journey Through Time: Hiking to Bomber Glacier from Anchorage, Alaska

Embark on a hike like no other, through the rugged terrains of Alaska to the historical Bomber Glacier, named after a TB-29 Superfortress that crashed there over six decades ago. An adventure teeming with picturesque landscapes and a powerful historical narrative awaits you.

In the remote mountains north of Palmer, the wreckage of a TB-29 Superfortress lies scattered across Bomber Glacier. This aircraft was on a training mission back in 1957 when it met with an unfortunate accident. It strayed off its course due to poor weather conditions and crashed on the glacier, tragically ending the lives of six of the ten crew members.

The TB-29 Superfortress was a training version of the bomber used to drop atomic bombs on Japan at the end of World War II. On November 15, 1957, this plane was calibrating its radar during a routine training mission when it strayed 27 miles off course and hit an unnamed glacier at 6:22 p.m. Staff Sergeant Calvin K. Campbell, despite his own injuries, managed to pull three survivors from the wreckage and kept them safe until rescuers arrived in a helicopter.

Today, the plane is a peculiar yet intriguing destination for hikers. The bomber lies tucked behind a wall of stone in one of Alaska’s most rugged-yet-accessible mountain regions. The wreckage is a poignant memorial to those who didn’t survive the crash, with a plaque affixed to the body of the aircraft as a constant reminder.

Instructions on How to Hike to Bomber Glacier from Anchorage: Embarking on this journey requires you to first reach the Reed Lakes trailhead, located in Hatcher Pass, a section of the Talkeetna Mountains a little over an hour northeast of Anchorage. Here’s a general direction guide from Anchorage to the Reed Lakes trailhead:

  1. Start on AK-1 N from Anchorage.
  2. Continue on AK-1 N. Take AK-3 N to Trunk Rd in Palmer.
  3. Continue on Trunk Rd. Take E Bogard Rd and N Palmer-Fishhook Rd to Hatcher Pass Rd.
  4. Follow Hatcher Pass Rd to Archangel Rd.
  5. Drive to the end of Archangel Rd where the Reed Lakes trailhead is located.

Please note that these are approximate directions and it’s always recommended to use a reliable GPS or map service for the most accurate directions.

Once you reach the Reed Lakes trailhead, the hike begins. This 12-mile round-trip out-and-back hike will lead you past the Reed Lakes and over Bomber Pass to the upper end of the glacier, then descending slightly to the wreck. The hike will take you up a broad, forested river valley and past an abandoned mining village before climbing to Upper and Lower Reed Lakes, perched at the high end of the valley with views up to the south side of Lynx Peak. From there, it’s a stiff climb to the top of Bomber Pass on Lynx’s western shoulder where you can step onto the ice and down to the crash.

This adventure presents a unique opportunity to venture into the heart of Alaska’s wilderness, explore a historical site, and marvel at the natural beauty surrounding it. The Bomber Glacier hike is more than just a physical journey; it’s a step back in time, a tribute to those who lost their lives.