Anchorage is a short drive from many picturesque views, such as glaciers, mountains, and scenic overlooks. Every year, thousands flock to the city to experience firsthand the expansive beauty of the last frontier, Alaska.
Hikers of all ability levels can experience the natural wonder of the snow-capped mountains and fields bursting with wild berries and native foliage. Beginner and veteran hikers will have their breath taken away by challenging inclines and rocky scrambles to summit a peak, only to be rewarded with a stunning view.
If you’re looking for a challenging hike, you’ll find high-mileage trails that involve some technical scrambling to reach the summit view. For the more casual hikers, some trails have moderate inclines but reach equally stunning nature views that make the perfect photo opportunity.
1. Tony Knowles Coastal Path
Tony Knowles is an out-and-back trail that tends to average hikers around 7-8 hours to complete. The path is also a popular choice amongst birding enthusiasts, as well as mountain and road bikers.
Hikers can choose to start the hike in downtown Anchorage and travel to Kincaid Park or to do the trail vice versa. Keep in mind that this trail is multi-use, so pedestrians and bikers are expected to remain considerate of each other.
Dogs are welcome to come along for the journey but your canines must be kept on a leash. Not everyone follows this rule, so be aware if you have a reactive pup. There have been moose sightings in the area and they will charge when they feel threatened.
Distance: 19.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,217 Feet
2. Flattop Mountain Trail
This mountain loop trail is popular with hikers and trail runners. You won’t have to worry about jumping out of the way of bicyclists as this path is mainly for pedestrians.
There is a day parking pass fee that is required to enter Chugach State Park. If you are a local and wish to visit often, annual passes are sold at a discount.
Dogs must be kept on a leash while on the trail to ensure everyone’s safety. Wildlife is often seen in the area, such as moose and bears.
There is a technical scramble near the top of this path, before the summit. If you have mobility issues, it may be advised that you avoid this segment of the route. Gloves are recommended so you don’t scrape up your hands.
Distance: 3.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,430 Feet
3. Kincaid Trails
This trail system is a popular spot among Anchorage locals. There is convenient access to the shore and the greenery surrounding the path is beautiful during the summer season.
The trail has been known to get a bit muddy due to the proximity to the water. After heavy rainfall, waterproof boots are recommended.
You can expect to see other hikers, as well as mountain bikers on your excursion. In the winter, the area is popular among cross-country skiers as well.
The trails are kept well maintained and are partially paved for better accessibility. You’ll go through a wooded segment before reaching the more open coast section. During moose calving season, treading carefully is recommended so as not to upset a calf and its mother.
Distance: 4.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 396 Feet
4. Rendezvous Peak Trail
This loop trail is a popular option within Chugach State Park’s intricate trail system. Hikers and trail runners claim it during the warmer months before giving way to the snowshoers during the snowy season.
The best time to hike this trail is between March and October. Dogs are welcome to join and there are even off-leash areas for them to enjoy and experience a bit of freedom.
An important note before visiting this trail is that even though it’s within Chugach, Arctic Valley Ski Area maintains the trailhead. There is a $5 fee for parking, which can be paid via cash or PayPal.
As is the case in this area, large wildlife is often seen meandering around. Keeping an eye out and carrying bear mace are both recommended for everyone’s safety.
Distance: 3.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,397 Feet
5. Flattop Sunnyside Trail
This out-and-back trail requires a day-use parking pass, due to the rules of Chugach State Park. The road to the trailhead itself may require a vehicle equipped with four-wheel drive.
Parking can get busy, so consider checking this trail out during a weekday. Mornings tend to be less crowded and you should be able to snag a spot.
There is very little shade along this trail. During the sunny months, wearing a wide-brimmed hat is recommended, as well as sunscreen and plenty of water.
Some segments of this trail have steep switchbacks. Though somewhat tedious and strenuous, the view from the top is well worth the effort. Watch for wild blueberries growing along the trail for an antioxidant-rich snack to keep you energized.
Distance: 3.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,617 Feet
6. O’Malley Peak Trail
This popular Anchorage out-and-back trail is great for snowshoeing in the winter and for hiking and trail running during the warmer months once the snow has thawed. The best time to visit is between June and October.
Unfortunately, no dogs are allowed on this trail. The main trail can get a bit congested at times, so consider visiting during a weekday morning to avoid the crowds.
There is a scramble near the peak, so pack appropriate shoes and hand protection. During the winter, an ice ax and crampons may be helpful to summit the trail.
Various reviews mention seeing wild mountain goats. Chugach State Park has a great diversity when it comes to wildlife. Keeping your eyes open and staying alert is recommended to avoid an unexpected run-in with a larger mammal.
Distance: 7.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3,293 Feet
7. Cheney Lake
This loop trail is a great place to find peace and solitude, especially if you visit during the off-hours. You may see a few other hikers, trail runners, or even walkers during your visit. Oftentimes, there are more ducks and geese than humans.
Mosquito spray in the summer is a must to keep the insects at bay. There is a small beach area, as well as various picnic tables on which you can enjoy a packed lunch.
If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bald eagle, which is usually a highlight of this lake trail. If you wish to hike with young children, this is a great spot to teach them hiking etiquette in a low-stress environment.
Distance: 1.2 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 111 Feet
8. Coyote and Viewpoint Trail Loop
This loop trail is well-maintained and heavily trafficked. If you’re looking for a quiet hike away from the rest of civilization, this may not be the right choice for you.
The trail is popular among a variety of outdoor enthusiasts, such as hikers, mountain bikers, and trail runners. It’s important to stay alert for bicyclists as they come around the tight curves and to step off the trail when necessary.
While dogs are required to be kept on a leash, this cannot always be enforced. Reviews mention seeing dogs off-leash, which is an important note if you have a timid or reactive dog.
This multi-use trail may also be shared with horses at certain points. There are also moose and other wildlife in the area.
Distance: 3.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 364 Feet
9. Elderberry Park to Westchester Lagoon
This out-and-back trail is great for birders, hikers, and walkers. The best time to visit is between June and September, though it’s beautiful year-round. The trails are paved and there are several benches along the path for taking breaks as needed.
Dogs must be kept on a leash. There are no off-leash designated areas for the pups. You may spot some wildlife, though not as many as on other Anchorage trails.
Hikers will enjoy the snowy mountains in the distance, as well as a striking view of Denali. If you’re looking to soak in some picturesque Alaska views, this short and easy trail has you covered.
Distance: 2.3 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 160 Feet
10. Rabbit Lake Trail
This out-and-back trail in Chugach State Park leads hikers to a stunning view of gorgeous alpine lakes. While a day fee is required, it’s a small sum to pay to soak in such beautiful Alaskan views.
Parking can be difficult, so you should aim to arrive early before the crowds. You can bring your dog but they must stay on a leash. The trail is popular with other hikers and backpackers who often camp out within the park.
During the winter, skiers enjoy traversing the area. You can expect to see signs of mountain goats and bull moose. Waterproof shoes are recommended for the water crossing segments.
During peak season, hikers can enjoy fresh wild blueberries by the handful. This delicious trail snack is an Alaskan delicacy.
Distance: 8.7 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,440 Feet
11. Campbell Tract Loop National Recreational Trail
This loop trail is located in Far North Bicentennial Park. There are over 12 miles of trails in total for hikers to explore. For Anchorage locals, this park remains popular and is kept well-maintained.
Dogs are welcome but must stay on a leash. During the season, you may see the salmon as they move up the stream to spawn their young for the year. Other wildlife includes moose, bears, and wolves.
There is plenty of sunlight that breaks through the open canopy, so you can stay warm on the colder days. During the summer, bug spray is highly recommended. If you want to add mileage to your hike, simply hop onto another trail within the park.
Distance: 4.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 380 Feet
12. Blueberry Hill
This Anchorage out-and-back trail is a popular spot for birders to bring binoculars to spot the native birds in the area. Hikers may also come across trail runners.
The best time to visit is between April and September. Dogs have off-leash areas, so your pup can run free and get their energy out. Some segments of the trail can be slippery, especially after rainfall. Hiking boots with good tread are recommended.
Parking can be limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis. Along the trail, you’ll find blueberries and cranberries if they’re in season and not yet picked over. Black bears have also been known to meander through the area, so stay alert.
The trail can become steep in some areas, so trekking poles may be a good addition to your supplies. There are no scrambling sections but the stretch to the ridge gets a bit strenuous.
Distance: 2.0 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 1,128 Feet
13. Campbell Gorge Hike
This loop trail is used by hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers. The best time to visit is between March and November. The hike is located within Far North Bicentennial Park and is a great spot to view the Campbell Creek Gorge.
Dogs have an off-leash area, allowing pups to run freely. If you have a reactive or aggressive dog, proceed with caution. During the winter months, Spencer Loop Trail is open to those who wish to cross-country ski in the area.
The trail itself is well-maintained and several trails branch off of this one, so you can add to your mileage. Hikers often find signs of wildlife activity in the area, such as moose tracks and bear scat.
Distance: 3.8 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 803 Feet
14. Wolverine Peak via Basher Trail
This is one popular trail among many within Chugach State Park, a local hiking hub for Anchorage residents. The best time to hike the trail is between June and September.
While the incline is somewhat moderate for most of the hike, it gets significantly steeper near the end. The climb itself is not very technical and it may be doable for those with an intermediate skill level if they can handle the distance. There is no scramble.
Once you reach the summit, you’ll be greeted with a striking 360-degree view. Denali can be spotted, as well as an overview of the city of Anchorage. This is a great photo opportunity for those who wish to remember the hike.
Distance: 8.5 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3,622 Feet
15. Williwaw Lakes Trail
This out-and-back trail is beautiful to visit anytime during the year, but especially so between June and August. The path is part of the larger trail system within Chugach State Park. While rated as moderate, some beginners may be able to tackle the trail if they pack appropriate snacks and hydration.
There are many opportunities to spot wildlife, such as black bears, moose, and goats. You’ll find gorgeous waterfall views, as well as a clear shot of O’Malley and the surrounding lakes.
The terrain is moderate and the elevation isn’t too intense. It’s more of a gradual climb but you may want to bring trekking poles for the extra support.
If you’re looking for a long day hike, this trail is the perfect option. With such a variety of views, you’ll stay interested for hours.
Distance: 16.1 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2,585 Feet