Anchorage is a destination that offers a long list of outdoor activities year-round, and one of the best features of this town is the paved multiuse trail system winding through the entire city. There are four major paved trails: Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (11 miles), Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail (6.1 miles), Campbell Creek Trail (7.5 miles), and Ship Creek Trail (5.8 miles). If you bike all four trails, including the connections between them, and record your ride with a fitness app, the map of your route around Anchorage will look like a moose’s head.  And that’s why the 30+ mile route is called the Moose Loop. Disclaimer: there is no guarantee that you’ll see an actual moose on your ride, but your chances are higher.

After seeing numerous social media posts by my friends who proudly showed off their moose-shaped maps, and pictures of beautiful scenery and wildlife they took along the way, I decided to add the Moose Loop to my list of must-do activities this summer. I haven’t ridden longer than 20 miles on pavement in one day since my bike-touring days over ten years ago, so this seemed like a worthy challenge. Summer was over in an Alaska minute, so I picked a sunny Saturday in October to do the ride. I researched the route on the Anchorage Park Foundation’s website, and then also found it on the Trailforks app. During the ride, I used the app exclusively to navigate the loop. I had biked along all four of these main trails at some point, but never all of them in one day, and I had never biked through some of the neighborhoods between each trail. My favorite part was seeing new things in my town where I have lived for 31 years, like a playground with a big polar bear slide. Three of the trails run along creeks, and the Coastal Trail has beautiful inlet views.

Moose Loop Screenshot

The most important part that you absolutely cannot forget is to start tracking your ride when you begin, and making sure you are tracking it the whole time. Otherwise, you won’t get the coveted moose head map on your device! My husband had also never ridden the Moose Loop, and was up for it, so we started the ride from our driveway, and only biked about a mile to begin the official loop on the Campbell Creek Trail. We headed East on the wooded trail for a few miles, and linked up with the Chester Creek Trail, which looped through the U-Med District. Instead of continuing on the trail, the route took us north on Pine Street, which has a designated bicycle lane, leading directly to one of Anchorage’s most vibrant neighborhoods, Mountain View. Here you’ll find many restaurants offering ethnic cuisine ranging from German to Laotian food, if you need a lunch break during your ride. There is a clearly-marked bicycle route through Mountain View’s wide streets that leads riders to the start of the Ship Creek Trail.

After a couple miles riding along Ship Creek, we took a break on an overpass above the Alaska Railroad train tracks, and spotted a bald eagle sitting in a tree, probably looking for spawned out salmon in the creek. We continued down the scenic trail to downtown Anchorage, another spot along the route where there are countless restaurants and breweries for a break.

Just a few blocks later, we were cruising on the Coastal Trail along Knik Arm and stopped at the perfect viewpoint to enjoy some snacks. The skies were perfectly blue, and we had a clear view of North America’s tallest mountain, Denali, roughly 130 miles from Anchorage as the raven flies. Susitna Mountain and the Chugach Range were all in plain sight as well. Then the trail took us past Point Woronzof Park where you have a perfect view of the jets taking off directly overhead from Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Kincaid Park was next, and that’s where we saw our first and only moose on the Moose Loop. We didn’t linger, because the young bull was very close to the trail. The last stretch was several more miles along beautiful Campbell Creek, and at this point my legs started to slow down significantly, but we were almost done.

We were pretty tired when we arrived back to our driveway, but very pleased to have seen so many sights around our beautiful hometown. I remembered to turn off my tracking app, and was very proud to see my stats, but the most gratifying thing was the moose-shaped route on the map! Next time I want to bike the Moose Loop in reverse, and on my fat bike in winter to see it in a completely different light.