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Stage 486 – King Ranch Airport to Lion Head

As Around The World makes its way across the northern fringe of The Rockies, stage 486 treats you to a hefty dose of reality when it comes to climbing mountains. This stage may finish only three hundred feet higher than it starts, but the bit in between will cause considerable grief as the total amount of climbing is six times that.

But first, let’s get some good news out of the way: the rollout descends – lumpily it must be said – for two miles to the eastern end of Long Lake. With the finger shaped lake stretching out below, the Glenn Highway takes a slightly more north easterly route up the ridge above the water, resulting in a very steep climb. The first (false) summit is at four miles where the road descends slightly to Weiner Lake before a second, albeit less steep but longer climb takes Route 1 to two thousand four hundred feet by the summit at seven miles. That’s the first climb out of the way, and with it the highest elevation of the stage.

The descent is quite spectacular, managing to lose all of the elevation gained, and more, as the road drops down to rejoin the Matanuska River close to NOVA Alaska Guides, an adventure camp high up in the hills. As it passes the large island in the river where the water flows either side, the climbing starts all over again. This ascent isn’t as steep as the first one, but it’s longer: the road is still climbing as you cross the finish line, which makes it an eight mile climb with just a couple of short sections of respite thrown in for good measure.

The first bit of respite comes as the road passes below Glacier View Bible Church and extends past Glacier View Adventures and to the south of Hundred Mile Lake. The climb resumes at seventeen miles at Matanuska Lodge and steepens as the road passes Matanuska Glacier State Recreation Site and MICA Glacier Adventures. By now the road is around four hundred feet above the river and even though the road dips slightly at twenty one miles, it kicks upwards again on the approach to the finish line which is a mile north west of the Lion Head peak that overlooks the river.

Distance: 21 miles / 34 kilometres

Ascent: 1791 feet / 546 metres

RGT Magic Road: 9WnJDVaIvnQE

Total distance: 20.92 mi
Max elevation: 2389 ft
Min elevation: 1542 ft
Total climbing: 1793 ft
Total descent: -1427 ft

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