Let’s face it—Alaska has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. With epic mountain ranges, vast expanses of wilderness, and lush forests, it’s no wonder Alaskans are so eager to get outside and enjoy their natural surroundings. Luckily, there are plenty of great hiking trails throughout the state. Below are ten of the best hiking trails in Alaska; each one offers a slightly different experience that you should definitely check out!
The Kenai River Trail
The first 20 miles stretch between Anchor Point and Cooper Landing. Highlights include views of glaciers, rivers, and towering mountains. The trail becomes more difficult near its end. This trail is less popular than others on our list but is highly recommended for experienced hikers. If you’re feeling ambitious and want to tackle more than one trail at a time, try tackling parts of both the Kenai River Trail and Resurrection Pass Trail, which was rated by Backpacker Magazine as one of the most epic trails in America.
The Iditarod Trail
One of Alaska’s most iconic trails, The Iditarod Trail traverses 1,150 miles from Anchorage to Nome. The trail can be broken down into six segments (with dozens of official and unofficial side trips) and takes about 4-6 weeks to complete, making it one of North America’s longest backpacking journeys. In honor of its historic namesake, most who hike The Iditarod choose a dog sled as their mode of transportation. This will add an extra layer or two to your gear list—but hey, it’s all part of the fun!
The Eklutna Lake Trail
It’s one of Anchorage’s oldest and most popular trails, boasting a wide variety of scenery and plant life. The trail is flat for much of its 3-mile length, although it does climb at points to avoid steep cliffs. There are also several small bodies of water, as well as a creek that runs along part of its length, making it an attractive spot for many types. In the winter months, when access is allowed by snowmobiles, it makes a great place to go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The nearly 9-mile round trip takes about four hours on foot (6 hours round trip via snowmobile).
The Chena Hot Springs Trail
Located north of Fairbanks, Chena Hot Springs is a great choice for those seeking an easy hike with amazing views. The trail is fairly flat and makes several stream crossings, but it’s generally wide enough that hikers can cross without getting their feet wet. At 1.5 miles out-and-back (or 2 miles if you continue on to Lower Hot Springs), it’s not very long; but when you consider that many people take a dip in Chena Hot Springs after their hike, it easily becomes one of your long day hikes around Fairbanks.
The Eagle River Nature Center Loop
The Eagle River Nature Center Loop is one of the best hiking trails in Alaska located just north of Anchorage. The Eagle River Nature Center offers visitors a wealth of natural experiences including a hike around its trails. These trails lead visitors through boreal forest and river habitats. Filled with wildflowers, aspen groves, and amazing views, these trails make for an excellent hiking trip. You can also spot
wildlife including squirrels, moose, and mountain goats on these trails. When it comes to hiking trails in Alaska, Eagle River is near the top thanks to its spectacular scenery. And you won’t need to worry about getting lost thanks to clearly marked paths along each trail at The Eagle River Nature Center!
The Girdwood Forest Park Trail
Located in Girdwood, along Turnagain Arm, The Girdwood Forest Park Trail is a popular family hike. Though it’s not too hard on hikers of all ages, it’s a good idea to bring your camera—especially if you plan to snap photos at Moss Lake. Bring bug spray, too; mosquitoes are known to swarm here during warmer months. If that doesn’t deter you from hiking The Girdwood Forest Park Trail—which offers incredible views of Turnagain Arm and Mt. Susitna—all year long, then nothing will!
A hike along Turnagain Arm
Turnagain Arm is one of Alaska’s many incredible hiking trails. Located just 30 miles from Anchorage, it is surrounded by striking mountain views and beautiful glacial peaks. A route along Turnagain Arm offers a variety of hikes to suit all levels, with opportunities for inexperienced hikers to gain experience and more advanced hikers to go off-trail on some short-but-strenuous bushwhacking excursions. The best part? The trailhead is located only 15 minutes from downtown Anchorage, so it’s easy for residents to get out into nature without needing a big time commitment or elaborate planning process. As an added bonus, most of these routes are dog-friendly as well, which makes them the best hiking trails in Alaska.
The Spur Cross Barrens Nature Preserve Trail
Located in Whittier, Anchorage, Alaska, Spur Cross Barrens Nature Preserve Trail is a hiking trail that features beautiful wildflowers and is only recommended for experienced hikers. It’s long and strenuous, but also worth it to see wildlife from moose to bears! The Spur Cross Barrens Nature Preserve Trail includes two 1/4 mile spur trails that allow hikers to venture off into varying terrain within its 1,540 acres. The highest point of elevation on The Spur Cross Barrens Nature Preserve Trail is 330 feet above sea level.
Bird Creek Meadows Nature Trail
The Bird Creek Meadows Nature Trail, located on Mount Susitna near Anchorage, AK, offers a picturesque view of alpine meadows and a small glacier. The trail is moderate to easy with wonderful views throughout. A walkway near Lookout Mountain allows visitors to see into Prince William Sound while admiring alpine flowers and wildflowers such as poppies, lupine, and even forget-me-nots. This 3-mile hike is accessible year-round except for extreme conditions or winter storms and can be easily combined with other trails on Mt. Susitna for a full-day hiking experience. When planning your trip remember to check weather conditions before you travel so you will be able to enjoy your Alaska Hiking Trails at Bird Creek Meadows without worrying about your safety or route conditions!
Perseverance Trail, Chugach State Park
The Perseverance Trail is a great way to start your introduction to Chugach State Park. It’s a short trail that leads to an overlook that showcases both Turnagain Arm and Anchorage. If you’re looking for a quick and easy hike, it doesn’t get much better than that! The views are definitely worth seeing; hiking on level ground, will take most hikers less than an hour from the parking lot to the parking lot. There are some amazing sights along Perseverance Trail, but be sure not to leave without taking some time at Iceberg Point. Hikers looking for more distance can connect to other trails within Chugach State Park—the Perseverance Trail connects with Bird Ridge and Mt.
Now that you’ve got 10 great hikes, which one will you try first? I know I can’t wait to get back out on these trails. To enjoy your hike, always bring plenty of water, dress appropriately for the weather (weather conditions change quickly!), and let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return. Most importantly, have fun! Comment below your most favorite one.