Russian Jack Springs Park
Marked by accessible paved trails and an array of family-friendly amenities, Russian Jack Springs Park is a community favorite conveniently situated in East Anchorage.
Covering approximately 300 acres just east of Merrill Field airport, the park includes a playground perfect for younger kids, a skate park, soccer fields and baseball diamonds, picnic facilities, tennis courts, a 9-hole golf course, a greenhouse, and a popular sledding hill. The park’s 9 miles of bike and ski trails connect users with the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail (to the southwest) and a bike boulevard leading to the Ship Creek Trail (to the northwest).
The history of the area is rich and long. The area originally may have been known as Nungge, a Dena’ina Athabascan directional word for upland. Dena’ina used this area and others for hunting game including moose, bears, porcupine, spruce grouse, and ptarmigan, gathering plants, and accessing the Chugach Mountains (visit the Anchorage Museum to learn more).
In the early 1930s, the area was homesteaded by Russian immigrant Jacob Marunenko, or “Russian Jack.” The U.S. Army claimed the land during World War II; it later became a prison farm known for housing minor offenders and cultivating potatoes and cabbages. The prison facility was relocated in 1968, and today the park is a history-soaked oasis in the middle of the city.
Look for a giant polar bear-shaped play structure (located at the aptly named Polar Bear Playground), and take time to smell the flowers at the Mann Leiser Memorial Greenhouse.