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Stampede Trail and Bus 142 in Alaska

A challenge for even the toughest and most experienced hikers

Stampede Trail and Bus 142
Stampede Trail and Bus 142
Stampede Trail and Bus 142
Stampede Trail and Bus 142
Stampede Trail and Bus 142

This remote and dangerous hiking trail is nevertheless popular with backpackers wandering in the Alaskan backcountry. This old mining road and trail acquired a lot of attention after the death of an American traveler Christopher McCandless, who was found dead in an abandoned bus that served as a shelter on Stampede Trail in 1992. According to medical expertise, he died of starvation. A book and a film telling his story made the trail even more popular, and many hikers try to conquer it themselves every year.

The famous bus where the movie was shot is located right at the beginning of the trail. However, to see the real McCandless' shelter, hikers had to walk for 30 kilometers. On June 18, 2020, Bus 142 was airlifted out by a National Guard Chinook helicopter and moved to a new location. This abrupt move was caused by many casualties on the trail in recent years.

Hikers, who were trying to complete the trail in summer, suffered from mosquitos' bites and bear attacks. Also, Teklanika river is too high in summer, and it's rather dangerous to cross it. Thus the best time to walk the Stampede trail is August and September when the water gets lower. If you d​on't mind the frost, you can also try your luck in winter when the river is frozen, and bears are hibernating.

Practical info

When is the best time of the year to hike the Stampede Trail?

Hiking the Stampede Trail must be done cautiously. August and September provide an excellent opportunity to take this hike. On the other hand, winter may be chosen due to the hibernation of bears, resulting in fewer risks. Hiking during summer is risky due to mosquitoes, and the Teklanika river's high level leading to risks in crossing it. Show more

Where is the famous bus located in relation to the trail?

The infamous bus from Into the Wild is located at the beginning of the Stampede Trail. However, to witness the real McCandless' shelter, hikers must tread through almost 30 kilometers. The bus was removed in June 2020 due to a large number of casualties faced by hikers in recent years. Show more

What caused Bus 142 to be airlifted out in June 2020?

The decision to remove Bus 142 was made due to a high number of casualties on the trail leading to injuries, mainly associated with bear attacks, mosquito bites, and the Teklanika river's hazardous flow. By doing so, the risk of further danger reduced, protecting hikers from potential dangers. Show more

When is the Teklanika river at its most dangerous?

The Teklanika river is at its peak in summer when the snow melts. The risk of crossing it is extremely high during this season, considering the flow becomes faster, and additional rainfall can cause floods. Therefore, it is safer to hike the trail during August and September months when the river flow decreases significantly. Show more

Are there any precautions that hikers can take to avoid bear attacks on the trail?

Bear attacks are common while treading on the Stampede Trail, but hikers can take numerous precautions, such as carrying bear sprays, making noise while hiking, camping in open areas, and keeping their food out of reach. Hikers are advised to avoid leaving scraps of food around their tents, and if there is a bear sight, back away slowly without approaching it directly. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin