Alaska is known for being a wilderness lover’s paradise, so it makes sense that its largest city caters to those who like to run outside. With a trail system that stretches over 100 miles (161 kilometers) in town and countless avenues through the mountain range just minutes away, there are plenty of opportunities for runners to enjoy the summer sun—or shake off the winter blues.
Starting in downtown Anchorage, this 11-mile (17.7-kilometer) trail hugs the coastline along the Cook Inlet all the way to Kincaid Park, linking up with Westchester Lagoon, Point Woronzof, and Earthquake Park along the way. The level terrain (save for the formidable last half mile) and paved pathway mean the trail is often a location for half marathons, but it is also a favorite of bikers, walkers, and, in the winter, skiers. Users can relish views of Fire Island, downtown Anchorage, and planes taking off at Ted Stevens International Airport. Once at Kincaid, runners have the option of 1,500 acres and a myriad of trails to continue their run.
Running downgrade from Goose Lake Park to Westchester Lagoon makes this 4.6-mile (7.4-kilometer) trail a little easier. The path, lit for night use (or simply for winter afternoons), crosses through numerous city parks, meaning it’s prime for wildlife-spotting opportunities.
On the eastern end of the Chester Creek Trail system and located on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus, this three-mile (4.8-kilometer) trail wraps around a lake known for, you guessed it, being home to geese. The quiet path weaves through the woods and by one of the few beaches in town.
Accessible from the Flattop Trail parking lot, this wide path is actually a service road for the power lines that cross over the Chugach Mountains. Don’t let that deter you, though. The scenery is gorgeous, and the landscape is quiet. Also, its 14-mile (22.5-kilometer) length gives you an opportunity to run as long or as short as you’d like.
Runners are spoiled for options in Far North Bicentennial Park. Spanning 4,000 acres and with 100 miles (161 kilometers) of multi-use trails, you could do numerous runs in the park without repeating. Some favorites amongst locals include the Campbell Airstrip Loop and Moose Trail Track.
Part of an area designated as an off-leash dog park, this dirt trail has a high dog-to-human ratio. As it comes in at just over a mile, it’s easy to keep track of how long you’ve gone—without a GPS—provided that you don’t get distracted by canines chasing frisbees and beavers building their homes on the bank of the lake. From here, runners can pop over to the Alaska Pacific University ski trails for more miles.
Home to the largest seaplane base in the world, Lake Hood is the Anchorage trail where you’re least likely to see wildlife. But you’ll see oodles of riotously colorful seaplanes taking off and landing on the water in the short summer months. It’s a quick four-mile (6.4-kilometer) loop around the lake.