Kirsten Swann

Ship Creek Trail

Curving along the northern edge of Downtown Anchorage, the Ship Creek Trail is a short, accessible route perfect for exploring Anchorage’s natural history, heritage, and modern urban culture. 

From the trail’s western trailhead near the Alaska Railroad depot and the Ship Creek fish ladder, pedestrians can watch anglers cast for king and silver salmon, or rent gear and purchase a permit from The Bait Shack to try it out for themselves. While fishing is limited to the areas along the very western end of the trail, the entire 2.5-mile path provides plentiful opportunities to watch the salmon making their way upstream. 

Follow the trail east to find interpretive and educational placards detailing Anchorage’s early days as a railroad camp and tent city at the beginning of the 20th century. While the Ship Creek corridor is now lined with railroad tracks and industrial yards, it’s also still surrounded by woods and a thriving salmon stream offering a peek at the natural abundance that drew Alaskans to the area long before Anchorage came to exist. Watch for wandering wildlife including beavers, bald eagles, and black bears.

The Ship Creek Trail also makes it easy to access the William Jack Fernandez Sport Fish Hatchery, a massive aquaculture facility with more than 100 rearing tanks capable of raising more than 6 million Chinook and coho salmon, rainbow trout, and Arctic char annually. The hatchery is located off Reeve Boulevard near the east end of the trail (on the opposite side of the creek), and visits are free and open to the public. 

The trail ends in the parking lot of William Tyson Elementary School, connecting pedestrians to the Peterkin Avenue bike boulevard, with easy access to the Alaska Museum of Science and Nature, Grow North Farm, and a variety of restaurants and a local brewery in the Mountain View neighborhood.

Bonus: Take note of the signage at the eastern end of the trail — it features both the trail’s modern name as well as the original Dena’ina Athabascan name for the area; Dgheyay Kaq’.