Kenai River Trail
The Kenai River Trail is a long loop located in Cooper Landing. The trail follows the Kenai River, and is best used for walking and hiking and is appropriate for all levels of hikers. It is moderately busy, so you won’t be overwhelmed with fellow hikers, nor will you feel secluded on this hike. Bring along binoculars to spot some of Alaska’s most beautiful birds.
Distance: 10.1 miles
There are few glaciers in Alaska that you can walk right up to, but with Exit Glacier, you can do just that. The walk to the glacier is fairly flat, taking you through a slightly forested area before you end up directly next to the glacier. If you’re a moderate hiker, you can take the Upper Trail to the Harding Icefield for a better view of Exit Glacier and the surrounding mountains. Bear in mind that this hike is for those who are very fit and capable, as the climb is both longer and steeper than the easy walk on the lower trail.
Distance: 1.8 miles (out and back) – Exit Glacier; 9 miles (out and back) – Harding Icefield Trail
Similar to Exit Glacier, Winner Creek Trail offers an upper and a lower trail with different levels of difficulty. Only 45 minutes outside of Anchorage, this is a nice hike within short travelling distance of the city. The lower trail is 8 miles out and back, with a bridge that crosses the Winner Creek Gorge, and a hand tram that you take across Winner Creek.
This trail is also great for biking, as you can simply load your bike on the tram and take it across the creek. The upper trail turns right at the Gorge and begins its ascension there. The trail is roughly 18 miles out and back, so this is a much longer full day hike with more difficult terrain, and the occasional water crossing.
Distance: 8 miles (out and back) – Lower Trail; 18 miles (out and back) – Upper Trail
601 Crow Creek Rd, Girdwood, AK 99587, +907 777 7700
This moderate-level trail is 38 miles long (one way), and broken into sections for day-to-day hiking. There are eight public use cabins along the trail, as well as 19 campsites you can pitch up in. The trail remains mostly in the valley, but offers beautiful views of the Kenai Mountains. It runs through the gorgeous Chugach National Forest, which provides some of the best hiking in Alaska.
Distance: 38 miles (one way)
Baldy is a moderate-level 4.6 mile loop, or can be hiked from either end as an out-and-back trail. The traditional route is taken to the left, which leads you up a less steep incline along the back of the mountain. The trail to the right is slightly more forested, and a little steeper, but will end up at the same place as the left trailhead. Either way, the peak offers a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valleys. From the summit, you can also extend your hike to the Black Tail Rocks, Roundtop, and Vista peaks.
Distance: 4.6 miles (loop)
Kesugi Ridge Trail is another point-to-point trail that is 29.2 miles long. The highlight of this moderate-to-hard level trail is the beautiful views of Denali National Park on a clear day. Due to its length and some steep inclines, this is best done as a three- or four-day backpacking trip for more experienced hikers. The views are stunning and the tundra terrain is unlike any other in Alaska. Be sure to pack your tent!
Distance: 29.2 miles (one way)
Lost Lake Trail
Lost Lake is less trafficked than some of the other standard mountain trails, and provides some of the most rewarding views. The moderate-level trail leads through the rainforest, and you can catch sight of the majestic surrounding mountains, and ends with several lakes, a view of two glaciers, and a rushing stream. Camping at the end of this trail is highly recommended!
Distance: 15 miles (out and back)
Flattop is one of the most highly trafficked trails in Alaska, due to its location within Anchorage city-limits. The moderate-level hike isn’t overly steep, but about midway up is a set of wooden “steps” that are meant to offer solid footing. At the end of the stairs is a flat area with some wooden logs where you can take a break before the summit.
This overlook offers beautiful views of Anchorage and the surrounding area, but it’s the peak that provides the most stunning vista. However, to get to the top you must climb the “scramble” which does require some light handwork. From the top you can see the Chugach Mountains, the Turnagain Arm waterway, and the Cook Inlet. If you are up for it, it’s well worth the climb! Note: The parking lot for Flattop requires a $5 fee, so be sure to bring this with you!
Distance: 3 miles (out and back)
Crow Pass was once part of the historic Iditarod Trail, and now offers one of the best moderate-to-hard level hikes in the Chugach Mountains. The trail is 21 miles in length, so most people take a couple of days to hike it. However, if you’re looking for a day hike, the first 4 miles offers gorgeous views that you can take in, then head back out again. If you want to continue, you can expect to see some old mine ruins, Crystal Lake, Raven Gorge and the amazing Raven Glacier with its huge cascades. Please be aware that this is a hike on which you will very likely see some bears, so come prepared.
Distance: 21 miles (one way)
Skyline is only recommended for experienced hikers due to the steep terrain and vertical climb. However, the views are worth the effort. The hike is roughly 4.2 miles out and back, beginning in a forest but quickly emerging into a beautiful alpine area. At the top you can sign your name into the logbook to commemorate your trek!
Distance: 4.2 miles (out and back)
Falls Creek Trail
Falls Creek offers some spectacular views of its namesake, as well as several other waterfalls along the way. The climb is steep, so it is recommended only for those in good shape. It begins in a forested area, but ends in the rocky tundra, with an incredible view of the Turnagain Arm.
Distance: 5.4 miles (out and back)