Where to Find Waterfalls in Anchorage
Go chasing waterfalls: The Anchorage area has several scenic favorites from which to choose.
Feel the cool mist from a mountain stream, breathe fresh air, and see glimpses of rainbows sparkling in the spray. Anchorage waterfalls can be reached by foot from several trailheads to the north and south of the city. Walking distances generally range from a mile to two miles roundtrip, making these easy excursions for hikers of most ability levels. Spend an hour or so soaking up the waterfalls’ negative ions and positive energy, then return feeling re-energized and ready for your next Alaska adventure.
Barbara Falls (South Fork Eagle River Falls)
Tucked behind a quiet neighborhood in the South Eagle River Valley, Barbara Falls (otherwise known as South Fork Eagle River Falls) offers a short, scenic stroll in all seasons.
How to Get to Barbara Falls
Barbara Falls is accessible via a short trail off Ken Logan Circle. Observe and respect all private property and parking signage in the area. The trail begins behind the metal gate at the end of the cul-de-sac, and leads down to a footbridge over the South Fork Eagle River. To reach the base of the waterfall, follow the trail to the right immediately before the bridge: The path parallels the river for several hundred yards to the foot of the falls. To reach the overlook, follow the main trail across the bridge.
Thunder Bird Falls
One of Anchorage’s most popular waterfall hikes, the easy Thunder Bird Falls trail leads to a viewing platform with a broad view of the falls; follow the mile-long trail to the end to reach the base of the falls. The waterfall can freeze in the colder months, creating icy shapes perfect for winter photography.
How to Get to Thunder Bird Falls
Follow the Glenn Highway to the Thunder Bird Falls exit near mile marker 25 in Chugiak. The Thunder Bird Falls trailhead is located alongside the Eklutna River at 25321 Old Glenn Highway.
Virgin Creek Falls
This lush local waterfall is tucked at the end of an easy, unmarked trail in the community of Girdwood just south of Anchorage. Perfect for photography and family adventures, the falls drop approximately 15 feet, surrounded by dense forest, ferns, towering trees, and thick Alaska foliage.
How to Get to Virgin Creek Falls
To reach the falls from the Seward Highway, turn north at milepost 90 onto the Alyeska Highway, then take the first right after Glacier Creek, at Timberline Drive. Follow Timberline Drive to its end, where the short trail to Virgin Creek Falls begins.
McHugh Creek Falls
The tumbling 20-foot waterfall isn’t the only attraction at the scenic roadside McHugh Creek Day Use Area: Visitors are also treated to panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, as well as access to the McHugh Trail and other routes into Chugach State Park.
How to Get to McHugh Creek Falls
Find the cascading McHugh Creek Falls a brief walk from the parking lot of the McHugh Creek Day Use Area, located at milepost 111 of the Seward Highway. Follow the sidewalk up from the lower parking lot; the waterfall and viewing platform are on the right.
Spilling down a mountainside at the end of the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, Serenity Falls is a narrow waterfall measuring more than 1,000 feet tall. This low-volume waterfall is best admired after periods of heavy rain or significant snowmelt.
How to Get to Serenity Falls
Follow the Glenn Highway to Eklutna Lake Road; access the Eklutna Lakeside Trail at the end of the road. Reaching Serenity Falls requires a 12-mile hike, bike, or ATV ride along the flat, wide lakeside trail, which is traversable in all seasons.
Bird Creek Falls
Tucked into the Chugach Mountains along Turnagain Arm, Bird Creek Falls is a powerful cascade rushing through a rocky gorge a little more than 1.5 miles up from the mouth of Bird Creek.
How to Get to Bird Creek Falls
Access the falls from the Bird Creek Trailhead at the end of Konikson Road, which begins around milepost 101. The path follows an ATV trail to a bluff overlooking the gorge, then winds down a steep slope to the waterfall. Be prepared for scrambling and trail-finding, and watch for bears along the creek in salmon season.
Winner Creek Falls
One of Girdwood’s most popular trails leads to a wooden bridge over Winner Creek, where visitors can watch the rushing, frothing waterfall pour over the tiered rocks below.
How to Get to Winner Creek Falls
Find the Lower Winner Creek trailhead behind Hotel Alyeska; the waterfall is located approximately 2.25 miles up a wide, fairly level path. Side trails leading down along the edge of the canyon bring visitors close to the base of the falls.
Ship Creek Falls
Ship Creek ripples over a series of short waterfalls just east of the William Jack Hernandez Fish Hatchery. Visitors can watch salmon journey upstream to spawn, then explore the hatchery to learn more about local aquaculture.
How to Get to Ship Creek Falls
Access the falls viewpoint from the hatchery at 941 N. Reeve Blvd: Drive, or walk or bike in via the Ship Creek Trail.