Alaska : Things to do : Hiking and Biking Trails
Parks and trails in Alaska are obviously numerous given the rugged terrain and varied topography. Here we have listed some of the best-rated ones in each region and have given links to sites dedicated to hiking trails in these regions.
Parks and trails in Anchorage
- Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
This popular walking, biking, and jogging trail winds along the 11-mile long coast line. It is a laidback way to explore the beauty of Anchorage. You can skirt the faultline of the 1964 quake, see North America's highest peak, take in the scented forests, and perhaps spot a beluga whale. One of the best ways to experience the Coastal Trail is by bike. Downtown Bicycle Rental (907-279-5293) is a very convenient location and offers reasonable rates.
- Kincaid Park
This is a 1400-acre forest that is atop an old glacial moraine and offers one of America's top trail systems as well as Anchorage's largest moose population. Park at the Kincaid Outdoor Center or "chalet," (343-6397). If you want to test yourself, try the 6-mile Lekisch Loop; it's the hilliest competition-certified 10K in the country.
- Flattop Trail Hike
Flattop is Alaska's most visited peak. It is about an hour long hike along a 1,350 vertical foot, 1.5-mile trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit. You can take in the panoramic views from Mt. McKinley to the Aleutian Islands. For the less active and those with small children, a walk along the short path from the parking lot to the overlook offers great views minus the hike. The more adventurous can hike from the parking lot 5 miles one-way to the scenic Williwaw Lakes or climb 5.5 miles to Wolverine Peak. In the winter this is probably the best place to see northern lights away from the bright city lights. Flattop Mountain Shuttle (279-3334) has a shuttle service that transports you from Downtown Bike Rentals to Flattop.
- Eagle River Nature Center
Forty minutes from downtown lies Eagle River Nature Center (694-2108), a gateway to Chugach State Park and a spectacular glacial river valley. At the end of an easy, 3-mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or 5-mile trek up-valley are awe-inspiring waterfalls and 3,000-foot cliffs.
Visit http://alaska.org/anchorage/parks-and-trails.jsp lists more trails in Anchorage.
Trails of Inside Passage
Sitka, the old capital of Alaska has superb historic as well as nature trails. There are also several hiking trails in Juneau and Denali.
- Indian River trail - Sitka
This is a moderate hike of 2-3 hours one way. You can walk through northwest coast rainforest with views of the Sisters Mountain and wildlife.
- Sitka National Historical Park - Sitka
A 1-hour relaxing walk will send you back in time. It commemorates the site of the Battle of Sitka between the Tlingit Indians and the Russians in 1804. Traditional and historic totem poles line the trails throughout the park.
- Halibut Point State Recreation Site - Sitka
This oceanfront park is farther from town. It is an easy walk of 1/2 a mile. There is access to the beach with picnic shelters and restroom facilities.
- Starrigavan Forest & Muskeg Trail - Sitka
This is an easy trail with signs and displays to help you learn about the forest and muskeg environment. Also the Estuary Life portion helps you learn about the Estuary ecosystem.
- Mount Edgecumbe - Sitka
Mount Edgecumbe is accessible only by boat. It is a strenuous hike to the summit of the extinct volcano with several steep climbs. Those who can manage the climb are rewarded by spectacular views from the top and impressive crater of the volcano.
- Perseverance Trail - Juneau
This historic trail is the route originally used by natives for goat hunting, fishing and berry picking. It later became the first road in Alaska after Joe Juneau and Richard Harris found gold in the Silverbow Basin in the 1880s. It is an easy hiking, biking and jogging trail 3 miles one-way with a roundtrip of 3-4 hours.
- Horseshoe Lake Trail - Denali National Park
This is a popular trail and therefore quite crowded. It is a 1 1/2 hour round trip with an elevation gain of 200 feet. Along the way, especially at the overlook bench, you'll have a panoramic view of the Nenana River.
For a detailed listing of Sitka's great trails complete with season, proximity and difficulty levels go to http://www.sitkatrailworks.org/
For a complete listing of Juneau trails go to http://alaskatrekker.com/juneautrails.htm
For a complete listing of Denali trails go to http://alaska.org/denali/hiking.htm
Trails in Interior Alaska
- Chena Dome Trail
The trail is an approximately 57-mile drive from Fairbanks. It is a difficult hike with a 30-mile loop trail traversing alpine ridges and saddle system.
- Granite Tors Trail
This is a 15-mile loop trail with emergency shelter. You will go through various terrains in this moderate hike. It has gravel or soil surface to treeline. There are boardwalks over boggy areas. The alpine region is rocky. There is excellent access to numerous granite tors with specatacular views of surrounding mountains.
For more on trails system in Interior Alaska go to http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aktrails/ats/int/ganitors.htm
Backpacking is a wonderful way to soak in the breathtaking landscapes and wildlife of Alaska.
- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is 13.2 million acres of wilderness that can be strolled through in three days or explored in depth over several days of backpacking and camping. From McCarthy, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is accessible by bush plane.
- Chilkoot Trail was once known as "the meanest 33 miles in history" and still is a tough hike. Don't forget to look for relics of Gold Rush. Contact: Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park, (907) 983-2921.
- Denali National Park and Preserve You can soak in the tundra in this 6-million-acre Park. Denali's largest attraction, the towering 20,320- feet high, Mt. McKinley, can even be seen up to 70 miles away on a clear day. Beginning at just below the summit of Mt. McKinley, Muldrow Glacier flows 35 miles through a granite gorge and across the tundra.
Denali is a naturalist's paradise with over 430 spicies of flowering plants, wolves, and grizzlies. Sable Pass is a prime spot to view grizzly bears.
Five campgrounds are located within the park, many open late spring to early fall. Reservations are strongly recommended during the summer. Riley Creek campground is open year-round, and all but two (Sanctuary and Wonder Lake) offer RV sites. Permit could be a problem, so apply in advance.Contact: Denali National Park and Preserve, (907) 683-2294.
is a good online resource to get information about Backpacking trips in Alaska.