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Middle Fork Loop and Hillside Trails Professional Review and Guide
"A wealth of trails cover the western Chugach foothills, perfect for days when the time or energy for a longer hike is lacking. Lying on the outskirts of Anchorage, these trails are mostly flat and keep to forested lowlands, offering any number of quiet afternoon rambles. Though popular with locals, especially for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, the trails are hardly crowded. Start from any of the trailheads mentioned below and design a loop to suit your ambition. Keep track of your way back to your trailhead, since not all trails are well-marked. There are several smaller trails in the area and still more in the Municipality of Anchorage Far North Bicentennial Park, northwest of Prospect Heights. What follows is not a complete listing, only the major trails in this extensive network."
--Shane Shepherd & Owen Wozniak, 50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park (The Mountaineers Books).
Cross country skied it which took about 3.5 hours. Started at Prospect Heights trail head, down the hill to the river then up the other side to the start of the Middle Fork Loop. Going this direction may not be the wisest choice as it is all uphill until you reach Powerline trail to ski back downhill to Prospect Heights parking area. After a while, my husband and I took off our skis and hiked many of the uphills as we were just too exhausted to ski up them. This was a very difficult trail to ski. It may have been because we were breaking trail for a good 3 miles, or because we are novice XC skiers; either way, we found it exhausting considering we are in pretty good shape.
Views are wonderful from this area, but we were too tired to appreciate them. If we were to do this again on skis, we would park 2 vehicles - one at Prospect Heights and one at Glen Alps parking. We would start at Glen Alps and ski mostly downhill on the Middle Fork Loop to Prospect Heights. Also, bring survival gear just in case you get stuck out there in a snow storm. You could easily get disoriented and lost if a snow storm came through. Definitely worth it if you are mentally prepared, a decent skiier, enjoy getting outside AND park 2 vehicles!
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