Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

5 Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Hiking in Alaska is quite the experience. This state is pure, rugged wilderness; there are no bridges to help you cross the river and no steps to stop you from sliding on your ass down every steep muddy incline. None of the hikes listed below are well sign posted and some have barely distinguishable paths. The climbs are intense but very rewarding, for example on the Lost Lake Trail you have to wade across a waterfall right along the edge of the drop where the flow is at it’s most rapid. This is also bear and moose country, both of which present a risk worth considering before each outing. All that said, I did all of the suggested trails entirely alone (except the glacier hike which is guided) and made it out completely unscathed with some breathtaking memories! One trail that didn’t make the list below is Anchorage’s Flattop Mountain, this is a right of passage to climb on the day you arrive before undertaking any more strenuous hikes and it will give you a great birds eye view of the city to get you set up. Here I am posing up a storm on the summit…

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Here’s my quick list of hiking essentials:

  • Bear mace
  • Bear bells (these will save you having to yell “HEY BEAR” every two minutes so as not to startle a grizzly, the worst thing you can do!)
  • Head torch
  • Raincoat
  • Good hiking shoes (that you don’t mind getting destroying with mud and water)
  • Camelbak
  • Hat and gloves
  • Additional battery pack/charger for your phone (incase of emergency and for Google maps)
  • Camera!

I was in Alaska during Autumn or Fall as they call it, it lasts for a maximum of just 3 weeks at the end of September in this windy state. The season being so fleeting makes it even more special to experience and as you’ll see below the colours are so vibrant. It is the window just before everything shuts down for winter at the beginning of October, considered extremely off peak the prices for everything drop considerably and there are no crowds, which is particularly enjoyable for hikes like the glacier (which during peak season can see upwards of 2000 tourists on the ice at any one time, our group of 6 was entirely alone there!)

1. Eklutna Lake | Twin Peaks Trail

5.5 miles one way, this hike is fairly difficult as it is entirely a steep uphill climb and pretty unrelenting. Unlike some of the other trails the path is clearly marked and easy to follow and the views from the top are truly breathtaking. It is only possible to reach the peaks from June to September, however a half way point (pictured below) can be reached all year round. There is $5 parking fee at the base of the trail.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Distance from Anchorage by car: 45 mins.

Hiking time: 4 hrs round trip.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

2. Matanuska Glacier Hike

I booked my glacier hike with NOVA Adventures, this is one of the only companies who continue their tours until late October. Most wrap up around September 15th. I strongly recommend doing this climb with a guide, some people chance it alone as the national park is open to the public but you will injure yourself without crampon’s for grip and some expert knowledge on which seemingly innocent puddles to avoid. Most are thin but incredibly deep crevasses that burrow deep into the icy core of the glacier. You do not want to fall in there alone! This is an unforgettable experience and possibly the most unusual picnic location on the planet?

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Distance from Anchorage by car: 2 hrs.

Hiking time: You spend approx. 3 hrs on the ice with your tour guide.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

3. Girdwood | Winners Creek Hand Tram Trail

An easy 3 mile hike, easy to navigate trail with a gentle elevation gain that winds through America’s northernmost rainforest, crosses a wooden bridge over a thundering blue-water gorge, connects to a hand tram high above thrashing glacier water and then ends on Crow Creek Mine Road just below the mine. The hand tram was one of my favourite experiences, you step into the metal cage, and slowly pull yourself out and over the angry river more than a hundred feet below. One small tip, don’t attempt this alone as the last thing you want is to get fatigued and subsequently stuck dangling over the rapid currents. It’s best to have some help on one of the sides to aid you across.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Distance from Anchorage by car: 45 mins.

Hiking time: 1 hr round trip to hand tram. 2 and a half hr round trip to Crow’s Pass.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

4. Seward | Lost Lake Trail

This was my favourite hike of the entire trip, it tested my endurance and had such spectacular views once you broke above the rainforest canopy that my eyes actually welled up. Despite the length, 15 miles one way, it is a fairly easy hike in terms of elevation, slowly rising and flat on top. The difficultly lies in the barely visible path and the array of terrain you have to navigate. This trail takes you through some of the roughest, most intense climbing I’ve ever done (and I’ve summited Kilimanjaro for comparison) I would not recommend doing this hike anytime after October or before June. It is too unforgiving and would definitely require some orienteering skills. Take the winter trail up and the summer trail down, and bring some lunch to eat at the lost lake once you’ve reached it. It’s quite a place!

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Distance from Anchorage by car: 2 and a half hrs.

Hiking time: 7 hrs round trip.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

5. Palmer | Pioneer Ridge

This is a very difficult hike, your entire body will hurt the next day so plan for doing nothing after it! Just 6 miles one way but very steep from base to summit, the final ridge and summit is also very loose so can be dangerous for your footing and requires your full attention. Again this hike is best to climb from June through to September and the aches and pains will be totally worth it when you’re standing at 6400ft drinking in the spectacular views. Only hikers in good shape should attempt this one and definitely not one for the kids.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

Distance from Anchorage by car: 1 hr.

Hiking time: 7 hrs round trip.

Breathtaking Alaskan Hiking Trails

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