The Campbell Creek Gorge overlook is one of Anchorage’s best kept secrets. It’s just a 25-minute uphill hike—even shorter on bike— from both the Hillside Ski Chalet parking area and North Bivouc Trailhead, or a slightly longer 1-hour hike from Campbell Airstrip.
Eagle’s Eye View
From the tree-covered overlook, you can gaze hundreds of feet down a sheer cliff to Campbell Creek as it crashes through a narrow, brush-infested canyon. As I crawl to the edge, grab a sturdy aspen, and poke my head over the chasm, I always feel a dash of vertigo mixed with an urge to find wings and jump into the updraft, just like the resident crows, eagles, and magpies do.
Choose Your Jaw-Dropping View
There are so many great views here: You can look across the gorge at other granite faces interspersed with steep, alder-covered slopes; glance upstream at the front range of the Chugach Mountains; or point downstream for a view of Anchorage, framed by the gorge’s walls. The topography of this location is the most rugged you’ll find in the Anchorage area and it’s easy to see that if bungee jumping were to ever be introduced in Anchorage (it won’t happen), this would be the spot for it. Adventurers have been visiting the Gorge for years. For a few weeks each spring (after the snow melts and before the leaves open) you might catch a glimpse of airplane wreckage at the bottom of the chasm, compliments of one adventure that got too close.
The secret is actually twofold: There are two overlooks near each other and straddling the boundary between the 4,000-acre Far North Bicentennial Park and thousands of acres that make up Chugach State Park. Though this secret lookout is in protected wilderness, it is really just minutes from bustling business and residential areas, especially if you choose to visit on a mountain bike.
How to Get There
To reach the overlook from Campbell Airstrip Trailhead, cross the bridge and go left along the river. Stay left at Mellen’s Way (Rover’s Run Trail) to Bivouac Trailhead (where N Bivouc Trail enters just upriver from the intersection of Gasline Trail). Then, cross Gasline Trail onto Spencer Loop and follow it uphill for several hundred meters until you see a small trail branching off to the left through tall grass. Follow this for a few hundred feet more and you’ll pop out at the overlook.
Want to see more? You can continue uphill from here and connect into the northern terminus of Powerline Trail, which accesses numerous other trails and multiple viewpoints of the city and mountains. If you’re coming from the Hilltop Ski Area, take Gasline Trail north until you reach the river, turn right onto Spencer Loop and then follow the same directions from above.
P.S.: Bear Alert
Be on alert for bears that frequent this area when the salmon are in. Don’t wander off the main trails to explore the river, because bears can’t hear you coming and have been known to become aggressive in the area.