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Anchorage Hiking Trails and Wilderness Trails

Folding into the foothills of East Anchorage, the Chugach Mountains provide some of the most accessible hiking, camping, wildlife viewing and climbing areas in Alaska.

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Flattop Mountain is the most-climbed peak in Alaska, and it's just minutes from downtown Anchorage.
Flattop Mountain is the most-climbed peak in Alaska, and it's just minutes from downtown Anchorage. ©Visit Anchorage

Anchorage Hiking Trails

With 155 peaks within Chugach State Park boundaries, there's no shortage of Anchorage hiking trails. Some of the most popular ascents include Flattop Mountain, O’Malley Peak, Bird Ridge, Mount Baldy and Rendezvous Peak. Grab a map and go on your own, or stop in at the Visit Anchorage Information Center and book a guide. There are a lot of trails within an hour of downtown. The extended daylight of summer provides ample opportunity for out-and-back day hikes.

Flattop Mountain
Just 15 miles from downtown, this mountain can be conquered by both beginner and expert hikers. The 3,510-foot mountain with its signature flat summit provides 360-degree views of the entire area, including Mount McKinley. The 3-mile roundtrip climb from the Glen Alps trailhead has an elevation gain of 1,252 feet. A shuttle to the Glen Alps trailhead is available from downtown.

O’Malley Peak
Also accessible from the Glen Alps trailhead. Rising to more than 5,000 feet, it’s the tallest peak in the frontal Chugach range and a definite climb. The reward is one of the finest views of the Anchorage Bowl. For a shorter outing, try Little O’Malley;it’s less crowded than nearby Flattop, and great for beginners and kids.

Rendezvous Peak
An easy-to-moderate trail, which begins at the end of Arctic Valley Road adjacent to the Arctic Valley ski area above Anchorage. Lined with berries in late August, it is also a favorite local picking spot.

Bird Ridge
For hikers who need an ultra challenge, try this 3-mile, 3,400-foot ascent begins at sea level, follows the mountain spine and extends well above tree line.The summit offers the ultimate view of Turnagain Arm.

More Wilderness Trails Near Anchorage

The Eagle River Nature Center is a great place for a quick hike or to spend a whole day exploring. Located 40 minutes north of downtown Anchorage in the Upper Eagle River Valley, the center serves as the gateway to the half-million acre Chugach State Park and is open year-round. From a short nature trail loop to the 26-mile Crow Pass Crossing through the heart of Chugach State Park, there are trails for beginners to advanced hikers and skiers. Staff naturalists and volunteer docents lead recreational hikes and special nature programs.

Just north of Eagle River find Thunderbird Falls Trail, a gentle one-mile journey through rolling terrain and a birch forest that ends at a viewing platform of a 200-foot waterfall, an “ice fall” in winter.

Eklutna Lake offers six main trails covering 30 miles around a picturesque high-mountain lake. Multi-use trails are open to all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). Kayaks, bikes, lakeside and backcountry camping spots are available through Lifetime Adventures.

Used as an old mail route more than 90 years ago, Turnagain Trail is a pleasant amble along Turnagain Arm. Accessible from four different access points along the Seward Highway, the Turnagain Trail is 9.4 miles one way, though most hikers use the first three miles between Potter Creek and McHugh Creek. Dall sheep and the occasional bear can be spotted along this sheltered trail, which has a high point of 900 feet and is excellent for novice hikers.

Winner Creek Trail runs through the Chugach National Forest and has very little elevation gain. Located 45 minutes south of downtown in Girdwood, the trailhead is just east of the chateau-style Hotel Alyeska. Out and back is about five miles through dense stands of spruce, lush fern and devil’s club. A unique hand-powered tram carries passengers across the glacial-fed, roaring waters of Winner Creek Gorge.

Efforts pay off handsomely for the 14-mile round-trip hike to Williwaw Lakes in Chugach State Park. With emerald lakes shimmering in the shadow of Mount Williwaw (5,445 feet elevation), Dall sheep dotting ridgetops and wildflowers wearing nature's cologne liberally, the Williwaw Lakes hike best represents Southcentral Alaska wilderness. Expect to spend eight to 12 hours in a good pair of hiking boots.

Download the Chugach State Park Trail Map (in PDF) for more details on Chugach State Park trails and trailheads.

When hiking in and around Anchorage, be sure to pack appropriately for each hike. Weather patterns can change quickly, and all water should be packed in or filtered. Include snacks and file a hike plan with a friend. Stay on the established trail to protect delicate vegetation, pack out what you pack in and respect private property.