With nearly 50 types of berries in Alaska, it is no wonder the fruit has been a mainstay of the Alaska Native diet for centuries. In many parts of the state, Native women and children begin picking berries in June and continue into October. An important part of the Alaska Native lifestyle today as it was in the past, berry picking provides exercise, fresh air and the opportunity for family members to spend quality time together.
The treasure from an afternoon of berry picking should be experienced immediately – there’s nothing like fresh-picked berries enjoyed on the trail! Savor the flavor and the memory by taking buckets home for freezing, canning or use in jam, pie, or cobbler.
There are several resource guides available to confirm which varieties of Alaska wild berries are edible. The best berry patches are found on moderate, southwest facing slopes well protected from the wind.
Stop by the Alaska Public Lands Information Center or the Visit Anchorage Information Center in downtown Anchorage for a map of local picking spots.
Celebrating Alaska's Harvest
Alaska's bountiful blueberry harvest is also celebrated with the berry-licious Blueberry Festival held annually in August at Alyeska Resort. This outdoor event is jam-packed with kids activities, food demonstrations, a beer and wine tent, live music, poetry and pie eating contests and, let's not forget, the berry-licious Blueberry Creation Contest. B.Y.O.B. (bring your own bucket) and enjoy a free ride up Chair 7 for some berry picking on Blueberry Hill.
Berry Picking Hotspots around Anchorage
Explore Anchorage trailsides to find sweet, juicy salmonberries, cranberries and mountains of blueberries. All directions start from downtown Anchorage. Please be sure and research which of Alaska's 50 varieties of wild berries are edible. There are several resource guides available.
Flattop Mountain Trail
Seward Highway south to Huffman exit, turn left. Follow signs from Upper Huffman Road to Glen Alps Road. Blueberry Hill is just above the parking lot. For more blueberries follow Powerline Pass Trail into the South Fork of Campbell Creek.
Seward Highway south to Alyeska Highway. At the end of the highway, Take a right at the “T” to park at the Alyeska Daylodge and hike up the mountain, or make a left to the Alyeska Resort and Tramway for a ride to the mountain top. Fill a basket or two on the walk down the mountain.
Rendezvous Peak Trail
Glenn Highway north to Arctic Valley exit. End of Arctic Valley Road, adjacent to Alpenglow Ski Area. Find a gorgeous mountain bowl drenched with blueberries, mossberries, crowberries and cranberries.
South Fork Valley Trail
Glenn Highway north to Hiland Road exit, turn right. From Mile 7.5 of Hiland, follow the signs for half a mile to the trailhead. To find low-bush blueberries, must be in the open valley, out of the spruce. Easily an all-day hike with plenty of berry patches.
Peters Creek Trail
Glenn Highway north to Peters Creek exit, turn right; turn right at Ski Road, right on Whaley (becomes Chugach Park Road), left at Kullberg and then right on Malcolm Drive. Hike several miles in from the trailhead to find berry patches on the slopes of Mt. Eklutna and Bear Mountain. Limited parking.
Eklutna Lakeside Trail
Glenn Highway north to Eklutna Lake Road, 10 miles to recreation area. Travel 5 miles by foot or mountain bike along Eklutna Lakeside Trail to Bold Ridge Overlook Trail. Hike 1.5 miles up the base for a bowl full of berries.