Summit Lake State Recreation Site is located at mile 19 of Hatcher Pass Road, approximately 2 miles past the Independence Mine State Historic Park turnoff. Hatcher Pass Summit is in the park at an elevation of 3,886 feet. Road access to the park is limited to the summer months, usually July thru late September.
Summit Lake is a small cirque lake, or tarn, reaching a depth of 20 feet. This cirque was the beginning of a long-gone, alpine glacier. The surrounding terrain is all glacially carved. North of the lake, the uneven ground is caused, not by boulders, but by frost action in combination with ground moisture and soil type.
There is a trail around Summit Lake, and along the bluff above, and west, of the lake. The views from the bluff viewpoint are outstanding, including the Willow Creek Drainage, the Susitna Valley, and the western arc of the Alaska Range. Best viewing is on a clear morning. The scenic viewpoint is a popular launch site for paragliders in the summer, who can ride the updrafts for several hours on a good day.
Above, and east of Summit Lake, is April Bowl. This very small valley also has a cirque lake and several small ponds. This area is popular in the winter. Winter recreation includes back country skiing, snow boarding, and snowshoeing. The park is open to snowmachines when snow depth allows. Avalanches occur regularly on the steep slopes in the area. Please use extreme caution when winter recreating in the park and the Hatcher Pass Area.