City Hiking Guides

Discover the Best Hiking Trails near Anchorage, Alaska

POSTED ON August 10, 2022 BY Ralph S.


Introduction

Welcome to the bustling city of Anchorage, Alaska, a hub for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. While many may be drawn to this Alaskan adventure destination for its wildlife and breathtaking views, the true gems lie within the hiking trails near Anchorage. As Anchorage residents know, there is no better way to immerse yourself in the unspoiled beauty of this city than by exploring it on foot.

So grab your hiking boots and get ready to discover the best Anchorage hiking trails that will take you through panoramic views and lush forests.

Chugach State Park

Raina Peak. Chugach State Park, Alaska

  • Location: Near Anchorage, AK
  • Size: Approximately 495,000 acres (2,000 km2)
  • Number of hiking trails: Over 280
  • Total length of hiking trails: 700 miles (1,126 km)

Located near the vibrant city of Anchorage, Chugach State Park is the perfect escape into nature. As one of the four largest state parks in the United States, this park covers approximately 495,000 acres (2,000 km2) of land and offers over 280 trails with a total length of 700 miles (1,126 km).

The park is home to abundant lakes, massive glaciers, ice fields, and breathtaking mountain views. Visitors can explore the park on foot, by mountain bike, or even by horseback. However, it is important to note that bear spray is recommended when hiking in the park, as bears are known to roam the area. The park also offers several campsites for overnight stays.

Some of the trails include Thunderbird Falls, Anchorage Overlook Trail, Flattop Mountain, Williwaw Lakes Hike, and the Rendezvous Peak Trail.

For more exciting destinations and trails, check out the park’s trails page.

Eagle River Nature Center

Eagle River Valley

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Size: undefined
  • Number of Hiking Trails: approximately 4
  • Total length of Hiking Trails: approximately 35 miles (56 km)
  • Map and trail conditions: click here to get the trail conditions and map.

Just a short drive from downtown Anchorage lies the Eagle River Nature Center, nestled in the scenic Eagle River Valley. This hidden gem boasts massive pristine Alaskan wilderness and is home to approximately 4 hiking trails, including the popular Rodak Nature Trail, Albert Loop Trail, and Dew Mound Trail.

As visitors make their way through the winding trails, they can expect to be greeted by majestic views of the Eagle River and the surrounding mountains. One of the most iconic features of this nature center is the mile round trip hike to the Dew Mound, where people can witness stunning views of the hanging valley and river below.

As you explore the hiking trails, keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose, bears, and eagles that call this area home.

Albert Loop Trail

Albert Loop Trail

  • Location: Eagle River Nature Center, Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 2.8 miles (approximately 4.5 km) loop
  • Hiking Duration: about 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Loop
  • Map: Albert Loop Trail Map PDF

Nestled in the spectacular surroundings of the Eagle River Valley and just a short 45-minute drive from Anchorage, the Albert Loop Trail offers one of the most scenic and easy Anchorage hikes near this Alaskan city. This 2.8-mile (4.5 km) loop trail takes hikers on a well-maintained path through beautiful forests and alongside the glacial waters of the Eagle River.

The trail is accessible year-round, and during the winter, it’s a popular spot for cross-country skiers to explore the winter wonderland. However, it’s important to note that this trail is closed from mid-August to mid-October due to frequent bear sightings in the area. It’s recommended to bring bear spray and hike in groups during peak season. You can check out our guide to wildlife safety on the trail.

With an elevation gain of only 100 feet (about 30 meters), this easy loop trail offers a peaceful escape into the Alaskan wilderness, making it a must-visit for hikers of all levels.

Thunderbird Falls Trail

Chugach State Park, Alaska

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6 km) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Map: Thunderbird Falls Trail Map PDF

Located just north of Eagle River and south of Eklutna, the Thunderbird Falls Trail is a short but rewarding hike through Chugach State Park. A lot of people hike the 1-mile (1.6 km) round trip journey to the impressive 200-foot (61 meters) Thunderbird Falls.

While this may be a short trail, it still offers an elevation gain of about 100 feet (30 meters), making it a good option for those looking for a moderate workout. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, with signs pointing the way to the falls.

As you make your way through the lush forest, keep an eye out for wildlife such as moose and bears that are often spotted in Chugach State Park. At the end of the trail, you’ll be rewarded with views of Thunderbird Falls, where you can stand in awe of its powerful beauty.

This popular trail is suitable for hikers of all levels and is especially ideal for families with children or those short on time.

Anchorage Overlook Trail

Anchorage Overlook Trail

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 0.2 miles (about 320 meters) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Out and Back

Located a few minutes from Anchorage, this easy hike offers a unique perspective of the city and its natural surroundings. With the trail starting near the Glen Alps parking lot, it’s easily accessible for hikers of all levels.

The Anchorage Overlook Trail is a short but rewarding hike that offers unique views of the Anchorage peninsula, Flattop Mountain, and O’Malley Peak across the hanging valley to the left, and beyond. Starting near the Glen Alps Trailhead, this short 0.2-mile (320-meter) paved trail leads hikers to an overlook where they can take in the breathtaking panoramic vistas of the surrounding area.

Despite its short distance, the entire trail is filled with beautiful scenery, from the lush forest to the sweeping views of the mountains and valleys. It’s a perfect hike for those looking for a quick escape or families with young children.

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Knik Arm, which is located to the West of Anchorage, Alaska. Taken on a walk on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

One of the most beautiful coastal hiking trails in the country, the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, is a must-visit easy hike for adventurers in Anchorage. This 11-mile (17.7 km) flat hike stretches from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park and offers attractive views of the Alaska Range and the city itself.

The trail is mostly flat and follows the Anchorage coastline. Starting at Westchester Lagoon, the trail takes hikers along the scenic coastline before winding through the woods and around Raspberry Road. It then passes by Earthquake Park, a memorial site for the 1964 earthquake that devastated Anchorage.

Along the way, hikers will also encounter various wildlife, such as moose and bald eagles. And for those who want to take a break from hiking, there are several rest areas with benches and picnic tables to relax and take in the views. The trail ends at Kincaid Park, where hikers can continue exploring or catch a shuttle back to the city center.

Kincaid Bluff Trail

Kincaid Bluff Trail

  • Location: Downtown Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 6 miles (9.7 km) loop
  • Hiking Duration: about 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Loop

The Kincaid Bluff Trail is a popular hiking spot for locals and tourists alike. This 6-mile (9.7 km) loop hike begins by following the Tony Knowles Trail from Kincaid Chalet before taking hikers through lush forests, sand dunes, and along the beach of Cook Inlet.

The trail starts with a moderate incline, but once you reach the top of the bluff, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Anchorage peninsula and the Cook Inlet. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous side trails, leading down into a maze of ski trails and sand dunes. But don’t worry; the main trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

As you make your way through the entire trail, keep an eye out for wildlife, including moose and bald eagles, that are often spotted in the area. And if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of beluga whales swimming in the Cook Inlet.

Williwaw Lakes Hike

Williwaw Creek, Chugach, Alaska

The Williwaw Lakes Hike is a must-do for anyone looking to experience the beauty of Alaska’s mountains and lakes. Located just outside of Anchorage, this moderate 7-mile (11 km) hike begins at the Glen Alps parking area and takes you through a variety of terrain before reaching the stunning Williwaw Lakes.

The trail starts off with a gradual incline as it winds through alpine meadows, offering panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. As you continue on, you’ll pass by streams and waterfalls before reaching the first of the Williwaw Lakes.

The trail then becomes steeper as it takes you up to a beautiful lake and surroundings, each with its own unique character. At the top, hikers are rewarded with breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding area.

Rabbit Creek Trail to Rabbit Lake

North Suicide Peak and South Suicide Peak above Rabbit Lake. Chugach State Park, Alaska

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 4.4 miles (7.1 km) via Rabbit Lake Trail or 6.4 miles (10.3 km) via McHugh Lake Trail
  • Hiking Duration: about 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Access: McHugh Creek Trail (McHugh Lake Trail); Rabbit Creek Trailhead (Rabbit Lake Trail)
  • Map: Rabbit Creek Trail Map PDF

The Rabbit Creek Trail is a popular hiking spot in Anchorage, just a short drive from the city. This moderate trail offers hikers two options: a 4.4-mile (7.1 km) route via Rabbit Lake Trail or a longer 6.4-mile (10.3 km) route via McHugh Lake Trail. Additionally, many hikers choose to do the 10.8-mile traverse route that combines both trails for a more challenging hike.

The trail begins at the Rabbit Creek Trailhead and takes hikers through lush forests before gradually ascending into the alpine tundra. As you make your way up, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Rabbit Creek Valley and the surrounding mountains.

Along the way, hikers can also spot various wildlife, including moose and black bears. And for those feeling adventurous, there are plenty of side trails to explore and extend your hike. Whether you choose the shorter or longer route, the Rabbit Creek Trail to Rabbit Lake is a must-do for any hiking enthusiast visiting Anchorage.

Bird Ridge Trail

Anchorage at Bird Point Park

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km) one way
  • Hiking Duration: about 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Bird Ridge Trailhead Map: click here

Tucked away in Chugach State Park, the Bird Ridge Trail is a popular hiking spot for locals and visitors seeking a challenging trek with stunning views. This 5-mile round-trip hike begins as a steep ascent to Timberline and then follows the ridgeline up to Bird Ridge Point at an elevation of about 3,505 feet (about 1,068 meters).

The steep ascent may be challenging, but the reward at the top is well worth it. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll have exceptional views of Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains. The ridgeline also offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, making this hike a photographer’s dream.

But don’t let the views distract you from the trail itself. The rocky terrain and occasional steep drops make this hike a moderate to difficult one, but hikers who persevere will be rewarded with an experience unlike any other.

Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park

Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park

  • Location: Downtown Anchorage, AK
  • Size: 89.3 acres (0.36 km2)
  • Number of hiking trails: Multiple
  • Total length of hiking trails: Unknown

Located in the heart of downtown Anchorage, Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park is a popular spot for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts of all levels. Covering 89.3 acres (0.36 km2), this park offers a variety of hiking trails that wind through lush greenery, offering views of the surrounding mountain ranges.

One of the main draws of this park is its convenient location and easy accessibility. Most hikers can easily access the park from downtown Anchorage, making it a popular destination for those looking for a quick nature escape.

The park also boasts a paved biking and walking path that runs along Westchester Lagoon, providing a scenic route for bikers, runners, and walkers alike.

Crow Pass Trailhead

Crow Pass Trailhead

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 23.1 miles (37 km) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 2 to 3 days
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet from Crow Creek trailhead; 3,100 feet from Eagle River Nature Center.
  • Access: Trailheads at Girdwood (Crow Creek) and Eagle River (Eagle River Nature Center)
  • Type: Point to Point

Nestled in the picturesque Chugach Mountain Range, the Crow Pass Trailhead is a popular alternative for hikers looking to explore one of the best hiking trails in Alaska. This 23.1-mile (37 km) moderate-to-difficult hike takes you through stunning landscapes and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Starting at Crow Creek, the trail winds through alpine meadows and crosses over glaciers as you make your way towards the pass. Along the way, hikers will encounter various wildlife, including moose and bears, so it’s important to come prepared with bear spray.

The trail ends at the Eagle River Nature Center, where hikers can take a shuttle back to their starting point or continue exploring other hiking trails in the Chugach Mountains. The Crow Pass Trailhead is a must-visit for any day-hike adventurer near Anchorage.

Portage Pass Loop

Portage Pass

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 1 to 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Loop

The Portage Pass Loop is a popular and family-friendly trail located just outside of Anchorage, Alaska. With a distance of 2 miles (3.2 km) round trip and a moderate difficulty level, this trail is perfect for hikers of all ages and skill levels.

The trail begins at the Portage Lake Visitor Center and offers breathtaking views of the nearby Portage Glacier. As you make your way up to Portage Pass, the trail will take you through lush forests and alpine meadows, where you may even spot some wildlife.

One of the highlights of this hike is reaching Portage Pass, where hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and Portage Lake.

For driving directions, take the Seward Highway from Anchorage and head south towards Portage Glacier Road to Portage Lake.

Rendezvous Peak Trail

Rendezvous Peak Trail

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km) roundtrip
  • Duration: about 2 to 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back

Located on Arctic Valley Road near Anchorage, this moderate 3-mile (4.8 km) trail begins at the parking area and offers beautiful views of the overlook of the Arctic Valley. Also, the Rendezvous Peak Trail is a popular hike among locals and tourists alike.

Hikers can choose between three different paths to reach Rendezvous Peak. The most direct route is also the most challenging, as it climbs up the ski slope across from the parking lot. The longest route takes hikers through an abandoned military ski area and leads to an access road that runs up to the summit.

For a moderate day hike, the most popular route follows the old road up to the saddle, hanging one mile up the long valley to the left. Whichever path you choose, reaching the summit of Rendezvous Peak is worth it for the breathtaking views and sense of accomplishment.

O’Malley Peak Trail

O'Malley Peak Trail

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Type: Out and back

The O’Malley Peak Trail is a challenging and rewarding hike located in the heart of Anchorage, Alaska. This 5-mile-long (8 km) trail offers steep inclines and very loose gravel, making it a moderate to difficult hike for most hikers. The trail begins at the Glen Alps trailhead parking lot, located in the Anchorage Bowl.

As you make your way up the trail, you will encounter an elevation gain of 3,293 feet (1,004 meters) and be rewarded with breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. The trail takes you through lush forests and alpine meadows, offering a diverse landscape for hikers to explore.

One of the highlights of this hike is reaching the summit of O’Malley Peak, where you can take in panoramic views of Anchorage and its stunning surroundings. This challenging hike is perfect for experienced hikers looking to push their limits and take in the beauty of Alaska’s wilderness.

For driving directions, take the Seward Highway and head towards O’Malley Road. Turn toward the mountains, and you will reach the trailhead.

You can learn more about the Anchorage Bowl in Alaska here.

Mile High Saddle Trail

Cook Inlet Alaska

  • Location: Eagle River Valley, Alaska
  • Distance: 3.4 miles (5.4 km) roundtrip
  • Hiking Duration: about 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and back

Located in a stunning valley, the Mile High Saddle Trail offers an unforgettable hiking experience for all levels of hikers. This moderate 3.4-mile (5.4-kilometer) out and back trail takes you through lush forests and alpine meadows and even offers views of Cook Inlet and Denali.

The trail begins at the Mt. Magnificent Trailhead and follows the ridge to the mountain, offering beautiful views along the way. As you continue along the trail, you will reach a point where you can choose to go left and follow the original trail or follow the ridge all the way to Mt. Magnificent.

Whichever route you choose, this hike offers breathtaking views of Eagle River Valley and its surrounding landscapes. With a moderate difficulty level, this trail is perfect for hikers looking for an adventure without being too strenuous.

Glen Alps/Flattop Trailhead

Glen Alps/Flattop Trailhead

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 1.7 miles (2.7 km) one way
  • Hiking Duration: about 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Map: click here to check out Flattop Mountain Trail map

Flattop Mountain Trail is one of Anchorage’s most iconic trails. Located in the stunning Chugach State Park just outside of Anchorage, this trail is a popular hiking spot for both locals and tourists alike. This 1.7-mile (2.7 km) one-way trail offers hikers a moderate to difficult hike with an elevation gain of approximately 1300 feet (396 meters) and can be accessed from the Glen Alps Trailhead parking lot.

The trail starts easy, with a well-maintained path surrounded by lush vegetation. However, as you make your way up, the terrain becomes steeper and more challenging. But don’t worry; the scenic views along the way will make every step worth it. As you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with breathtaking panoramic views of the Chugach Mountains and surrounding landscape.

The Flattop Mountain Trail is perfect for those looking for a shorter hike that still offers a good workout and beautiful scenery. It’s also a great hike for those short on time, as it can be completed in about 2 hours.

Byron Glacier Trail

Byron Glacier Trail

  • Location: Girdwood, AK
  • Distance: 1.4 miles (2.3 km) one way
  • Hiking Duration: about 30
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Type: Out and back

The Byron Glacier Trail is an easy trail located in the small town of Girdwood, about 55 miles (88 km) south of Anchorage. This 1.4-mile (2.3 km) one-way hike is suitable for all skill levels.

The trail starts off at the Portage Valley parking lot and follows a well-maintained path through lush forests and along Byron Creek. As you make your way up the trail, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Byron Glacier and its surrounding mountains. This is also a great spot for wildlife viewing, with the possibility of spotting bears, moose, and other animals in their natural habitat.

The highlight of this hike is reaching the end of the trail and getting an up-close view of Byron Glacier. This massive glacier offers a unique experience for hikers, as you can get close enough to touch the glacier and even walk on it in some areas.

Twin Peaks Trail

Twin Peaks Trail

  • Location: Eagle River Valley, Anchorage, Alaska
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
  • Hiking Duration: about 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Type: Out and back
  • Trail Map: Twin Peaks Trail Map PDF

Nestled in the beautiful Twin Peaks Valley, just an hour’s drive north of Anchorage, lies the Twin Peaks Trail. This 2.5-mile (4 km) difficult family-friendly trail takes you on an exhilarating journey through stunning landscapes to a scenic vantage point 1800 feet (548 meters) up.

The trail offers two options for hikers, making it suitable for all fitness levels. You can choose to do a short and easy walk to an overlook of the beautiful Eklutna Lake, or for a more challenging adventure, you can scramble up a 5,000-foot (1,524-meter) peak to reach the high and rocky Twin Peaks and Goat Peak. Whichever route you choose, this trail promises breathtaking views and an unforgettable experience.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Eagle River Valley and its stunning landscapes. The challenging terrain adds an extra level of excitement to this hike, making it perfect for any day hike adventure.

Other Hiking Trails near Anchorage

Anchorage is not just a bustling city but also a gateway to some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in Alaska. With great trails located just an hour’s drive from Anchorage, residents and tourists alike can embark on thrilling day hikes that offer an authentic Alaskan adventure.

From challenging mountain peaks to serene lakeside walks, there is something for every level of hiker near Anchorage.

Here are some destinations worth visiting:

Trail of Blue Ice

Portage Lake, Anchorage

  • Location: Anchorage, AK
  • Distance: 5 miles (8 km) one way
  • Hiking Duration: about 3 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Type: Out and Back
  • Trail Map: Trail of Blue Ice Map PDF

The Trail of Blue Ice is a moderate 5-mile (8 km) trail that starts in the Moose Flats Recreation Area on Portage Lake Road, about 80 miles (129 km) south of Anchorage. It’s a popular trail for both locals and tourists, thanks to its accessibility.

The trail begins at the Moose Flats parking area and follows an old roadbed through a forested area. As you continue along the path, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Portage Lake and the surrounding mountains. The trail then crosses Portage Glacier Road and continues for the next 4 miles through woods, past ponds, and over small streams on the east side of the valley.

The Trail of Blue Ice is a perfect option for those looking for a scenic hike without too much difficulty. It’s also a great spot for wildlife viewing, with the possibility of spotting bears, moose, and other animals in their natural habitat. This trail is open year-round, so you can enjoy it in all seasons, from hiking to snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail

Knik River Valley

  • Location: Palmer, AK
  • Distance: 6 miles (9.6 km)
  • Hiking Duration: about 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • Type: Out and Back

Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail is one of Alaska’s lesser-known anchorage hikes but has some of the most rewarding views. Located about an hour north of Anchorage on scenic Knik River Road, it offers hikers an intense and rewarding adventure.

The Pioneer Ridge-Austin Helmers Trail is a challenging 6-mile (9.6 km) trail that takes you on a steady climb through the rugged terrain of Pioneer Ridge to reach panoramic views at the top.

This trail is not only physically challenging but also offers a serene escape into nature. Once you start this hike, you’ll feel like you’re off the beaten path. The trail is located within the Far North Bicentennial Park.

As you make your way along the trail, you’ll pass through dense forests, cross streams, and scramble over rocky sections. The trail gains some 5,200 feet (1,585 meters) in elevation over its 6 miles and offers a true test of endurance for experienced hikers. But the effort is worth it as you reach the summit and take in breathtaking vistas of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and Knik River Valley.

Conclusion

Anchorage is a hiker’s paradise, with endless trails to explore. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or an easy stroll, there’s a trail for everyone.

This guide has covered some of the top trails that are worth exploring and offers amazing views of the city and surrounding wilderness.

For more exciting destinations like this one, check out our city hiking guides.


RALPH S.

Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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