Anchorage Is Surrounded By Chugach State Park
Anchorage has its own parks and recreation system. Anchorage is bounded on the east by Chugach State Park and on the south by Chugach National Forest. You can hike or bike in wild locations, only a few minutes by car from downtown Anchorage. A short drive, either north or south, will take you to highly scenic areas with great views of Cook Inlet and the city.
1. Flattop Mountain
Be Careful Climbing Flattop
A frequently climbed peak, it's a three mile round trip when you climb Flattop. You start on an easy gravel walk, and end up a thousand feet above the parking lot, at the end of a steep, rocky climb. Wear climbing boots. Don't get too close to the cliffs, stay off the snow fields and keep your eyes open for falling rocks set loose by other climbers. The very top of Flattop is dangerous. Climbers have slipped on the ice, and fallen to their deaths.
To drive to Flattop Mountain from Anchorage, go to Upper Huffman Road, then onto Toilsome Hill Drive. Turn on Glen Alps Road to the Glen Alps Trailhead. There are stairs that take you up to the trail. Glen Alps Trailhead also provides access to other trails and an easy overlook area where you have views of Anchorage.
2. Hillside Trails and Ski Area
Far North Bicentennial Park
If you want to go cross country skiing in the winter (or take a hike in the summer) you can start in the parking lot at the Hilltop Ski Area.In the winter, the ski trail is lighted. The adjacent Hilltop Ski Area has a ski jump and various smaller lifts. Spencer Loop is a more challenging section of trail that can also be accessed from the Hilltop ski area parking lot.This trail system also connects to the Rovers Run Trail that follows along the South Fork of Campbell Creek and leads back to the Campbell Creek Science Center Trail System. The Rover's Run Trail has been closed seasonally because bears wander up and down the creek. Bears are something to keep in mind when hiking anywhere in Alaska during the summer.
3. Campbell Creek Trails
Far North Bicentennial Park
Turn into the BLM Headquarters road off of Elmore Road near 68th Avenue. Follow the access road to the left and you will end up at the Campbell Creek Science Center. There are 12 miles of multiple use trails that are relatively flat. They connect to the trails of Far North Bicentennial Park. The Campbell Creek Science Center is a BLM educational facility.
4. Arctic Valley North of Anchorage
Only A Few Miles North Of Anchorage, On The Glenn Highway
Take the Glenn Highway north and exit onto the Arctic Valley Road. Drive past the golf course. The road gets steeper and becomes a gravel road with switchbacks. Keep going until you get to the Arctic Valley Ski Area, where you'll find parking and access to trails and berry picking in an alpine setting above tree line.
5. Thunderbird Falls North of Anchorage
Dramatic Views Of Falls - With Steep Gorges
This is an easy walk of about a mile one way. To get to Thunderbird Falls, drive 25 miles north of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. Turn at the Thunderbird Falls exit. Not recommended for small children. There are steep gorges. If you have a family with children, go to nearby Mirror Lake, instead. To get to Mirror Lake, take the exit at Mile 24.5 on the Glenn Highway. There's plenty of room at Mirror Lake for kids to run around. And, it's a great family picnic spot.
6. Eklutna Lake Trail North of Anchorage
Lakeshore Walk - Or Mountain Bike
To get to a beautiful lake, take the Eklutna exit at Mile 26 on the Glenn Highway, north of Anchorage. (You can take this exit for Thunderbird Falls, also.) Follow the long, winding Eklutna Lake Road toward the mountains. In about ten miles you'll get to Eklutna Lake, and a state park campground.The lake is seven miles long. An easy-walking multiple use trail, perfect for children, runs alongside it. Excursions may be short, or much longer. The entire bikeride can last for hours and be grueling, so be prepared with food, water, and the ability to fix flat tires. At the end of the trail, you can view glacial moraine.
7. "Bird To Gird" Bike Trail South of Town
13 Miles Along Turnagain Arm
The name is shorthand for the trail from Bird Creek to Girdwood beside the Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad on Turnagain Arm, south of Anchorage. The trail actually starts in Indian – but you can get on or off it at Bird Creek or Bird Point. This is a paved, 13-mile long recreational trail that is fairly flat and makes a memorable and exceptional bike ride. It ends at the junction on the Seward Highway leading to Girdwood.
Most Climbed Mountain In Alaska
This is the Glen Alps parking lot, at the base of Anchorage's Flattop Mountain. Be forewarned: Don't park on the road leading to Glen Alps, or you'll get a ticket. There's a new electronic fee station at this parking lot. Soon, there will be a web cam there, so you can check in advance if the lot is full of cars.
At Flattop, there's a sign showing the trail. Flattop Mountain is Anchorage's most climbed peak. The Flattop Peak Trail is around three miles long. It starts at 2,256 above sea level, and ends at 3,550 feet. To play it safe, take the "Blueberry Loop," which is 1.9 miles long and avoids the steeper trail to the top.