Yeah we'll just get it out the way. Chris McCandless, a deserted bus, a sense of adventure, a lack of preparedness, and ultimately death. Chris McCandless had some inspiring philosophies motivating people to break free and find themselves. But in Alaska as Chris illustrated if you're not mindful and prepared it can cost you your life. We put this here because too many people are still going down the Stampede Trail following McCandless and having to be found by search and rescue. Alaska is great for clearing your head and finding yourself, we just strongly encourage you to be prepared to survive and prevent endangering yourself or others while doing so.
Stampede Trail is in better condition since the release of Into the Wild in the places it hasn't eroded. For the most part it is clear and straight forward. As far as Alaskan trails go, Stampede Trail isn't amazingly beautiful or technically challenging except for river crossings. It's just an old road from the 1930's with a bus that a worker fashioned to make livable while working out there later to become the final dwelling for a man who inspired people. Chances are if you're doing this hike it's an old bus drawing you down it. Sadly as time passes on people are removing more and more of the bus. Because in 20 years someone is really going to believe you when you say that's the door handle from the Magic Bus... Please be respectful to history and others behind you and leave things as you found them.
The trail is 18.6 miles long, generally people begin hiking near Eightmile Lake where Stampede Road beings to get rough. The crux of the trail is the Teklanika River which fluctuates as fast as it is typically a manageable river, however it has a very large watershed feeding it. So it can be pouring south of the mountains out of sight and water levels can promptly change without much warning. The only time we'd really recommend not going out is during spring breakup when ice is melting and water is cold and flowing.
A lot of people make note of the mosquito's but it's interior Alaska in the bush. Expect them to get bad, especially once you stop moving.