How to Hike Alaska's National Parks

How to Hike Alaska's National Parks
Hiking in Alaska's National Parks is an activity that offers both beauty and refreshment of the senses, as well as a feeling of accomplishment. There are 15 national parks throughout Alaska that offer every type of hiking experience--from mountain climbing and glacier exploration to traversing wooded trails and ones that veer in and out of the state's waterways. Being prepared with the right equipment is essential to having a safe and conductive hiking trip.


Difficulty: Easy

Step 1
Decide which of Alaska's 15 national parks you would like to visit by researching them at the National Park Service website. All of the parks offer different hiking options, including mountain, forest, glacier and waterside hikes.
Step 2
Decide on a park and a specific date and time for your hike. This is essential to determining exactly what gear to pack, in case the weather will be wet or colder than expected. Always hike during daylight hours, and allow yourself enough time to reach base camp (or wherever you started from).
Step 3
Pack for your hiking trip with the following considerations in mind: weather, terrain and the length of the hike. If the weather is going to be warm, dress lightly, but bring a light jacket in case you are gone longer than expected. If it will be cold, bring heat packs and gloves to ensure warmth. If the terrain is going to be steep, pack your backpack lighter and wear hiking boots with excellent traction. If the terrain will be flat, wear more sports-oriented hiking boots. If you are planning on hiking for more than a few hours, or overnight, you may want to attach a sleeping bag or wrapped tarp to your backpack and secure it with a bungee cord.
Step 4
Layer your clothing, no matter what climate you will be hiking in. Layering is an easy way to adjust your body temperature as you travel through different terrains. Leave ample room in your backpack for the attire you are already wearing when you start the trip, in case you want to take it off.
Step 5
Begin your hiking journey through your favorite Alaskan national park. Use your topographical map, compass and senses to guide you through the trails you are hiking. If you do not have a GPS system, make a mental note of your exact geographical location by finding a landmark on the topographical map that will help you remember where you started from, and thus make it easier for you to get back.

Tips & Warnings

Carry a cell phone or communications device with you at all times.
Bring a hiking partner for companionship, as well as safety.
Do not over-pack your backpack; get rid of unnecessary and bulky items.
Do not venture into areas that have been closed off due to avalanches or falling rocks.
If you are unfamiliar with the park's trails, over-educate yourself on the dangerous zones, as well as areas where wild animals could be present.
Never approach a wild animal in its natural habitat.
Stay away from uncharted territory or areas that are not listed on a topographic map.

Article Written By Julie

Julie is an outdoor enthusiast and freelance writer. She enjoys hiking and camping the North Woods of Michigan, as well as remote regions of Canada. She spends her free time backpacking and exploring new and unchartered territory on all of her outdoor expeditions.

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