Locals and outsiders alike sometimes remark of Anchorage that it is “only twenty minutes from Alaska.” Some intend this as an insult to Alaska’s metropolis, while others say it with pride. In either case, mountains like Near Point and Wolverine Peak illustrate the point. Sitting right in Anchorage’s backyard, they prove that one need not stray far from downtown to find true wilderness. Both mountains, reached from Prospect Heights Trailhead, make fine day outings.
Near Point, its lower slopes dotted with houses, is a good first peak for young hikers. Wolverine, much higher, rises gently from a large valley and forms a natural amphitheater of sorts. People climb it year-round, in summer sun and winter twilight. The mountain is arguably at its best in autumn, when blazing fireweed and ripe berries paint the slopes in a riot of color. Termination dust (an Alaskan term for winter’s first snowfall, at which time the brief, manic construction season terminates) arrives soon thereafter, bringing a different mood to the mountain.
© Shane Shepherd & Owen Wozniak/The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.