Best Hikes Near Anchorage  by John Tyson

Best Hikes Near Anchorage Guide Book

by John Tyson (Falcon Guides)
Best Hikes Near Anchorage  by John Tyson
Who says you have to travel far from home to go on a great hike? This guide describes more than thirty of the best hikes within an hour’s drive of Anchorage—from a whole host of spectacular trails in Chugach State Park to inviting urban trails for after-work jaunts. Whether you’re in the mood for an easy nature walk or a strenuous day hike or even an overnighter, this guide offers plenty to choose from: • Twin Peaks Trail—great views and wilderness adventure • Hillside Trail System • Flattop Mountain Trail • Historic Iditarod Trail • Turnagain Arm Trail–with beautiful views of Cook Inlet • Winter Creek Trail—with its mature spruce trees • Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and other urban trails Each hike features full-color photos; a brief route description; thorough directions to the trailhead and beyond (GPS coordinates included); a detailed, accurate trail map; and at-a-glance information on distance and difficulty level, hiking time, canine compatibility, and fees and p

© 2009 John Tyson/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Hikes Near Anchorage" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 31.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 31.

This is an excellent hike for the entire family. Amazing scenery, boardwalks, viewing platforms, and an easy, flat trail are the main elements of the hike. The trail descends down along the Eagle River and provides outstanding mountain views, wildflowers, lush vegetation, and numerous areas of beaver activity with ample opportunities for spotting wildlife. Begin this hike just behind the nature center and proceed down the paved path on the Rodak Nature Trail. This is a popular stretch linking four trails, so plan on lots of company. However, it is closed to bicycles, motor vehicles, and horses (except by special-use permit).
Eagle River, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.2
Bird Creek takes you through some of the most amazing mature spruce forests in Chugach State Park. The tall, mature trees create a shadowed, somewhat spooky atmosphere, which emphasizes the damp forest floor that’s heavily carpeted with mosses and ferns. The trail is very wet and muddy in spring and during wet periods, is often rutted from ATV use, and has one stream crossing; so plan for wet feet.
Girdwood, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 8.6
The Bird Ridge Trail is a relatively short trail to the ridge, yet it is challenging and has amazing views of Turnagain Arm. The views alone make this hike worth putting on your to-do list. The very steep yet easy-to-follow trail requires some hiking over rock and loose stone and along the sheer, steep edges of the mountainside. The trail passes through a spruce forest and climbs to the alpine tundra above the tree line. Be prepared for changes in temperature, weather, and windy conditions.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3
The Bold Ridge Trail is steep and difficult, but it takes you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Chugach State Park. Outstanding views of Eklutna Lake below, Knik Arm, Twin Peaks, Bold Peak, and the Eklutna Glacier make this hike one of the best. The glacial-carved valleys, high ridges, and open tundra, along with the abundance of alpine wildflowers and Arctic ground squirrels, add to the allure and natural beauty of this hike.
Eagle River, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
The Campbell Creek Trail stretches from south Anchorage near Minnesota Drive and Dimond Boulevard and heads northeast toward Tudor Road. This popular multipurpose trail follows the scenic Campbell Creek, making it an excellent year-round recreational trail for fishing, picnicking, kids, families, hikers, bicycling, dog walkers, and winter skiers. Numerous access points along the entire trail make it easily accessible from many Anchorage neighborhoods. Campbell Creek is an important watershed and provides excellent salmon viewing, wildlife habitat, and natural flood control.
Anchorage, AK - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 14.8
The Dew Mound Trail runs parallel to the historic Iditarod Trail. This easy 7.0-mile loop trail offers three return loop options along the way to shorten the hike, should you decide to head back sooner. The trail passes through a variety of plant communities showcasing tall grasses, shrubs and thickets, and beautiful spans of spruce and birch trees. Large boulder fields and rocky ravines add to the adventure of this hike. Interesting things to see along the trail include the Rapids Camp Yurt and the river access point, Eagle River, and a chance to see one of the park’s public use log cabins.
Eagle River, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 7
The East Fork Trail to Tulchina Falls is an excellent waterfall hike. The falls are spectacular from the bottom and can also be climbed—carefully—for a different view. The biggest drawback with this trail is getting to it. It is a relatively short hike to the falls, but it is a 10.5-mile venture to the trailhead. The path parallels the east fork of the Eklutna River, travels through the valley and across a variety of terrain, including mixed forests, rockslides, riverbanks, unbridged stream crossings, and shrubby vegetation.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.8
This popular trail is utilized year-round by local Alaskans for most every type of outdoor recreational activity. The well-traveled, extremely scenic, and easy-to-follow trail allows for various means of travel. Many people bike this trail or use ATVs (on designated days), allowing them to make the out-and-back trip in one day. If you hike it, you will probably want to make it a two-day trip. The trail follows the Eklutna Lake shoreline for most of the way and then runs along glacial gravel bars. Waterfalls, steep canyon walls, and wildlife such as bears, moose, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and numerous bird species are prominent in the area.
Eagle River, AK - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 12.7
Eydlu Bena Loop Trail is an easy forested walk. It begins on a wide old roadbed, narrows into a dirt and gravel path, and eventually loops down to join the Eklutna Lakeside Trail. This is a good hike if your time is limited in this section of the park or as an extra activity if you came to the park for biking or just for an afternoon at the lake. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, with relatively low elevation gain, making it an ideal trail for the entire family. This trail can also be hiked in early spring, when other trails in the park are stilled closed.
Eagle River, AK - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2
If you like cascading waterfalls, a great stream, and exceptional views of Turnagain Arm, you don’t want to miss this hike. The rumbling stream with gradual cascading falls and mountain views provides a picturesque valley setting unique to this trail. The trail is rough and steep and climbs high enough that you’re likely to see Dall sheep, golden eagles, and Arctic ground squirrels in the higher elevations. Spruce grouse can also be spotted along the heavily forested path at the beginning of the hike.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.5
Flattop Mountain is the most climbed peak in all Alaska, so plan on having plenty of company on this trail. But don’t let the crowds discourage you if you have never ventured up Flattop. There are extraordinary views of the Alaska Range, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, and Anchorage and a high point of 3,550 feet. The well-maintained trail is fun to hike and a tradition for many.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.1
The steep but easy-to-follow Glen Alps to Williwaw Lakes Trail is a popular day hike to alpine tundra lakes. Wildlife such as moose, bears, Arctic ground squirrels, and willow ptarmigan is present in this area. The trail includes a bridged stream crossing; great views of Mount Williwaw, Flattop Mountain, and Wolverine Peak; and the Williwaw Lakes at trail’s end. An optional loop trail from the lakes follows Campbell Creek back to the trailhead.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 11.4
This trail is an offshoot of the South Fork Trail that leads to Eagle and Symphony Lakes. It provides some awesome views of the Eagle River Valley and South Fork Eagle River as it works its way up into the hanging valley perched above the Eagle River Valley floor. The final destination for most hikers, near the end of the valley, is the hidden Hanging Valley Tarn, nestled in a secluded cirque. This is an excellent camping area garlanded with wildflowers and alpine mosses, accompanied by the scurrying activity of Arctic ground squirrels. The lake provides a tranquil environment for camping and a stopping ground for several species of waterfowl such as gulls, harlequin ducks, and Barrow’s goldeneye.
Eagle River, AK - Hiking - Trail Length: 10
Access to the western trails in Chugach State Park is gained from the hillside of east Anchorage. Four major trailheads access the assortment of trails called the Hillside Trail System, ranging from easy, wide old roadbeds to more difficult routes requiring mountaineering skills. Trail highlights include excellent alpine scenery and lakes, wildflowers, wildlife, fall berry picking, and outstanding views of Anchorage, the Alaska Range, and Cook Inlet. This area of the park has something for everyone.
Anchorage, AK - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 0.25
The Historic Iditarod Trail, also known as the Crow Pass Trail, has something for everyone and is rich in wildlife, history, and adventure. The trail is very well maintained and marked and offers extraordinary scenic views with glaciers, fast-moving mountain streams and rivers, numerous large waterfalls, deep gorges, and mountain lakes—all in a 26-mile span.
Girdwood, AK - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 26
This scenic trail is totally paved and follows the Turnagain Arm, the Seward Highway, and parts of the Alaskan Railroad. It has several bridge crossings, an underpass, scenic overlooks with viewing scopes, picnic areas and toilet facilities, and opportunities to view numerous varieties of Alaskan wildlife such as beavers, moose, Dall sheep, beluga whales, and various birds. This is also a popular bike trail that can be easily completed in a day. Begin on the paved trail that leaves the parking lot. It will immediately veer into the forest along the side of highway. Cross Bird Creek on a bridge at approximately 1.4 miles. This is a popular salmon creek for both anglers and brown bears. This is also good spot to stop and enjoy the view, which can change dramatically depending on the tide. There is river access and a viewing platform across the bridge.
Girdwood, AK - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 13.4
Three main trails in the Anchorage area are considered part of the Anchorage Greenbelt: the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, the Campbell Creek Trail, and the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail, described below. This is another multipurpose trail that is heavily used throughout the year. The trail begins at the popular Westchester Lagoon and traverses toward the Chugach Mountains in the east. The easy paved path affords great scenery and a variety of wildlife-viewing opportunities along the way as it connects many major sectors of the city.
Anchorage, AK - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 10.2
This hike follows a wide, easy path. The trail is mainly level and travels through a mixed spruce and birch forest with views of the Eagle River and surrounding mountains. Wildflowers and other beautiful vegetation make this hike a nice weekend jaunt with the family. However, the biggest attraction of this trail is the South Fork Eagle River Falls, located at approximately mile 3.0. These impressive falls, probably one of the most striking falls in the entire area, make this hike well worth doing. The Lower Eagle River Trail is part of the Eagle River Greenbelt, a collaborative effort of the Alaska State Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, and the Municipality of Anchorage. The entire trail extends almost 7.0 miles along the south fork of the Eagle River and is probably a more popular trail for local residents for running, biking, horseback riding, day hiking, and various winter activities.
Eagle River, AK - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Trail Running - Trail Length: 6
The McHugh Lake Trail traverses in a northeasterly direction along the McHugh Creek Valley and parallel with McHugh Creek, finally ending at two pristine alpine lakes—Rabbit and McHugh. This excellent full-day hike guarantees outstanding scenic views of Turnagain Arm and Cook Inlet, mountain peaks, glacially carved valleys, mature forests, wildflowers, and Alaskan wildlife. This is a very popular stopping place with a large paved parking area, picnic facilities, restrooms, and a scenic overlook. In addition to hiking the trails, many people stop here to view Turnagain Arm, bore tides, beluga whales, and a large picturesque waterfall near the road. The facility also has a seasonal park host on site.
Anchorage, AK - Backpacking,Hiking - Trail Length: 14.2
This trail is a good full-day hike to the top of a scenic ridge with truly outstanding views of the city of Anchorage. The trail is challenging, yet clearly defined and well traveled, offering opportunities for wildlife viewing and photography, a mix of vegetative ecosystems, some great views of the Alaska Range and Cook Inlet, and an old homesite at the top of the peak. The trailhead is very obvious at the northeast end of the parking lot. You will also see a large signage board. It’s a good idea to stop and read any notices posted by the park rangers, such as bear and bear cub sightings along the trail or other precautionary notices to be aware of while hiking.
Anchorage, AK - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 8