The butte’s dry conditions, perhaps coupled with enough height to stand above a late glacial advance without being overtopped, give the butte unique vegetation for the area. Sage is most obvious. There are also Serviceberries and tiny, quite rare flowers called Draba caesia. It is also one of few areas in southcental Alaska with grasshoppers. Kids will love chasing them.
The trail winds along below the impressive northern face of the butte, at first gaining elevation only in short spurts. Then it climbs 500 vertical feet all at once up the steep western side of the butte, moderating the grade with switchbacks. On this approach, the best views—Pioneer Peak, Knik Glacier, and the high, glaciated, inner peaks of the Chugach Mountains—appear only near the end, a fitting reward for the effort. The lower trail presents fine panoramas over the Matanuska River and surrounding farm fields, with the Talkeetna Mountains prominent in the background. The top is rolling grassland with views in all directions.
© Helen D. Nienhueser & John Wolfe Jr./The Mountaineers Books. All Rights Reserved.