Chugach State Park Parks & Trails

Chugach State Park is a day-hikers paradise with treks of every flavor and ability level. More than 280 miles of maintained trails launch from a dozen major trailheads, stretching from Eklutna Lake in the north to the mid-Hillside above suburban Anchorage to the Turnagain Arm fiord in the south.

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You can find the itinerary that works for you, whether you seek a leisurely stroll to a stunning overlook close to the parking lot or want to spend the whole day traversing mountain ridges. Whatever your ambitions, don’t hesitate to visit prospects that ultimately reach many miles into the backcountry or warn of strenuous sections. Alaskan families and people with limited time regularly hike out-and-back from almost every trailhead. Go as far, or as little, as you like.

Looking for a guided option? Contact Traverse Alaska. They offer custom day hikes, backpacking, packrafting, and more.

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Parks & Trails

Elevation Gain: 3293 feet

You don’t have to be a moun­taineer to reach the sum­mit of O’Malley Peak — the promi­nent spire ris­ing from the Front Range above Anchor­age — but don’t mis­take it for an easy climb. Some of the 5‑mile-long trail climbs quite steeply; oth­er parts add very loose grav­el to the incline. Still, these con­di­tions don’t make this hike exces­sive­ly dan­ger­ous, just sat­is­fy­ing­ly laborious.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 21 miles Elevation Gain: 3500 feet

Con­sid­ered to be one of the best hikes in all of the Chugach Moun­tains, Crow Pass fol­lows a por­tion of the orig­i­nal Idi­tar­od Trail, includ­ing its high­est point. End to end, it’s a 21-mile trail, which most peo­ple do in 2 days, but just the first 4 miles will lead you past some breath­tak­ing scenery. Along the way you’ll find glac­i­ers, water­falls, wild­flow­ers, wildlife, mine ruins, and berries (in late August and Sep­tem­ber). Hik­ing is not  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 9 miles Elevation Gain: 850 feet

Rarely do two lakes lie with­in a few feet of each oth­er. For­tu­nate­ly, the trail to see this geo­log­i­cal rar­i­ty begins just a 30-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age. From the trail­head for South Fork Eagle Riv­er Trail, it’s a grad­ual 4.8‑mile (one-way) climb up a wide val­ley, lead­ing to a nar­row isth­mus between the green waters of Eagle Lake and the blue waters of Sym­pho­ny Lake.

Difficulty: Easy

This trail has its own sit­ting area and view­ing deck with views of Anchor­age, the Alas­ka Range, and Cook Inlet. It is real­ly good for see­ing sun­sets in the evening but it is also windy. The whole route is wheel­chair acces­si­ble. This is a good short hike for the fam­i­ly to see the view over Anchor­age, but not a good trail for the train­ing runner.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This trail quick­ly gains ele­va­tion on its way to an alpine mead­ow framed by the dra­mat­ic Twin Peaks and Goat Rock, but climbs to mag­nif­i­cent views over­look­ing the entire val­ley. Dall Sheep are often spot­ted above the tim­ber­line. From here there is a spec­tac­u­lar view of the lake below. This is also a good place for berry pick­ing in the fall. Because of the crushed rocks, the trail is hard­ly ever muddy.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

If peo­ple sug­gest climb­ing Flat­top, tell them you’d rather climb Ren­dezvous Peak. Flat­top is arguably Alaska’s most pop­u­lar (and there­fore, most crowd­ed) moun­tain; Ren­dezvous is far less crowd­ed and offers bet­ter views from the sum­mit. See them by hik­ing up 1,500 feet to the 4,050-foot summit.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 1350 feet

Flat­top is Alaska’s most vis­it­ed peak. Ascend the 1.5 — mile, 1,350 ver­ti­cal foot trail to the rocky, foot­ball field-sized sum­mit in about an hour and take in panoram­ic views from Denali (Mt. McKin­ley) to the Aleut­ian Islands. If you want vis­tas with­out the hike, walk the short path from the park­ing lot to the overlook.

Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 4301 feet

You’ll have a hard time los­ing your way on this 2.5‑mile climb of 4,301-foot-high McHugh Peak. You’ll also have a hard time for­get­ting the view from the sum­mit, which extends up the length of Tur­na­gain Arm and across Knik Arm to the Alas­ka Range. It’s even more sat­is­fy­ing know­ing that you found your way to the sum­mit with only min­i­mal help from the trail.

Forty min­utes from down­town Anchor­age lies Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, a gate­way to Chugach State Park and a glacial riv­er val­ley as wild and dra­mat­ic as any in Alas­ka. Enjoy an easy, 3‑mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-val­ley 5 miles to see plung­ing water­falls and 3,000-foot cliffs. In win­ter, tra­verse the trails on cross-coun­try skis or snowshoes.

Difficulty: Moderate

Well used trail by locals as a short (12 hour) aer­o­bic hike with nice views. Take Eagle Riv­er Loop to Sky­line, and fol­low the road as it swich­backs going up and even­tu­al­ly ends with park­ing along­side the road.

Some 50 miles north of Anchor­age, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. From the pic­nic table at the upper­most end of the trail, you’ll find a sat­is­fy­ing panoram­ic view of the Matanus­ka Riv­er and Knik Riv­er val­leys. It’s a view as good, or bet­ter, than that from many summits.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 100 feet

Who can say no to a cool water­fall only a half-hour’s dri­ve from town? One of the most pop­u­lar first hikes” for fam­i­lies with small chil­dren, the one-mile trail to Thun­der­bird Falls tra­vers­es a hand­some birch for­est along the Eklut­na Riv­er canyon to reach a deck with views of a 200-foot water­fall. Dur­ing win­ter, the falls can freeze, form­ing fab­u­lous columns of blue ice.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 13 miles

The start of this trail leads to the seclud­ed Eklut­na Lake, a great spot to pic­nic, hike, or fish. The trail is nice and easy, and takes you out 10 miles where you can then con­tin­ue on to get a bet­ter look at Eklut­na Glac­i­er! Eklut­na Lake­side Tri­al is also a pop­u­lar bik­ing trail. Alter­nate days 4 wheel­ers have use, but they can­not use the cut­offs clos­est to the lake. The trail fol­lows the lakeshore for 7 miles, then onto glacial gravel…  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 2 miles

This hike is pop­u­lar in spring for those look­ing for an aer­o­bic work­out. It is very steep, but offers secure foot­ing. One of many high­lights along the scenic Seward High­way, Bird Ridge Trail climbs 3,000 feet in a lit­tle more than a mile to mag­nif­i­cent views of the fjord-like Tur­na­gain Arm. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 13 miles

With­out hes­i­ta­tion, the Bird to Gird is the most beau­ti­ful bike path in West­ern Alas­ka. This trail is 6 miles one way or 12 miles round trip; either way, the paved ride hugs Tur­na­gain Arm and con­nects three com­mu­ni­ties (Gird­wood, Bird and Indi­an). It’s per­fect for any lev­el bik­er — whether you just want to just cruise, go fast on a moun­tain bike, or expe­ri­ence the trail as a tourist (or even as a curi­ous local). It’s a shared trail, so you’ll  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 4 miles

Long, beau­ti­ful hike. 1st five miles flat and easy, so you can ride your bike in and ride on in the woods. Spec­tac­u­lar view of Eklut­na lake below and Bold Peak. This long day hike or overnight trip offers one of the best panora­mas in Chugach State park and is good for berryp­ick­ing in the fall. Bikes are avail­able for rental at the trailhead.

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 4200 feet

A short road called Konikson locat­ed just past Bird Ridge head­ing east will take you to the trail­head. Stay to the right until you see a trail about a quar­ter mile in going right and up. The trail fol­lows a small drainage, and quick­ly gets past the tree line.

Difficulty: Moderate

With just a short walk from the park­ing area you will find a beau­ti­ful 20 foot water fall. The trail­head starts off par­al­lel­ing the Tur­na­gain Arm and there are a num­ber of small trails that go to dif­fer­ent look­outs. Take the trail to the left for a short dis­tance and you will find the McHugh Trail branch­ing off to the right. The trail zig-zags upward through the woods and pro­vides ever bet­ter views of the Tur­na­gain Arm and mountains. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 11 miles

Steep moun­tain walls, moun­tain peaks, beau­ti­ful val­leys and streams, mature Sit­ka spruce for­est, and areas rich in wildlife pro­vide plen­ty of enjoy­ment. Dall sheep can some­times be seen graz­ing. Use binoc­u­lars to scan grassy fin­gers below ridges across the val­ley, espe­cial­ly dur­ing spring and sum­mer mornings.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 8 miles

While many peo­ple find sat­is­fac­tion in climb­ing to the top of Bear Point, oth­ers may won­der about reach­ing the sum­mit of Mount Eklut­na, the promi­nent peak ris­ing just to the east. It involves two more miles of hik­ing, up 1,100 feet, includ­ing a short, sharp scram­ble up a grav­el trail. You can return to the Peters Creek Trail trail­head via an alter­nate route, which makes for a fine loop hike.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 10 miles

This trail is an off­shoot of the South Fork Trail that leads to Eagle and Sym­pho­ny Lakes. It pro­vides some awe­some views of the Eagle Riv­er Val­ley and South Fork Eagle Riv­er as it works its way up into the hang­ing val­ley perched above the Eagle Riv­er Val­ley floor. The final des­ti­na­tion for most hik­ers, near the end of the val­ley, is the hid­den Hang­ing Val­ley Tarn, nes­tled in a seclud­ed cirque. This is an excel­lent camp­ing area gar­land­ed with…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 9 miles

Old­er books might have referred to this as the old John­son Trail, but anoth­er trail of the same name on the Kenai Penin­su­la made it too con­fus­ing for them to both keep their names. This trail is the first of the trails avail­able for hik­ing in the spring. It fol­lows the high­way, with mild ele­va­tion gains to allow awe­some views of the Tur­na­gain Arm. 

Difficulty: Moderate

The easy-to-fol­low Ptarmi­gan Val­ley Trail guides you through forest­ed slopes and even­tu­al­ly to open alpine tun­dra in the Ptarmi­gan Val­ley. It starts out rel­a­tive­ly steep and grad­u­al­ly climbs until you hit the tun­dra above the tree line.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

If you like cas­cad­ing water­falls, a great stream, and excep­tion­al views of Tur­na­gain Arm, you don’t want to miss this hike. The rum­bling stream with grad­ual cas­cad­ing falls and moun­tain views pro­vides a pic­turesque val­ley set­ting unique to this trail. The trail is rough and steep and climbs high enough that you’re like­ly to see Dall sheep, gold­en eagles, and Arc­tic ground squir­rels in the high­er ele­va­tions. Spruce grouse can also be spotted…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This is part of the Hill­side Trail Sys­tem. It is one of the trails that is groomed for ski­ing in win­ter. You can access this trail via the Pow­er­line, Gasline, Denali View, and Gold­en Grass Trails.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 6 miles

Trail is nar­row and stream cross­ings not bridged. Wilder­ness char­ac­ter, wood­land veg­e­ta­tion, small lake.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 7 miles

This trail is pop­u­lar in the win­ter for ski­ing (low avalanche dan­ger) and sum­mer for views, and berry pick­ing. Many peo­ple begin at Glen Alps Park­ing lot and ini­tial­ly fol­low Pow­er­line Pass trail until it turns off to the left. Go down and over the creek and then fol­low the trail up an easy slope towards what is com­mon­ly known as the Ramp and the Wedge, on either side of the val­ley. When you get to the pass, or ridge, look down towards the…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 1300 feet

Trail head begins by tra­vers­ing pri­vate land, but an ease­ment has been pro­vid­ed for such. Easy to bike, ski, run or walk to mild slope with a wide sides, mak­ing is safe from avalanch­es in the win­ter. Should you choose to turn left at the start, you can go to Flat Top as an alter­na­tive route or Peak 2 or 3, depend­ing how far down you go down the trail before turn­ing left. Ptar­ma­gan Peak would be a more promi­nate peak just before the Rab­bit creek  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult

Not every­one should under­take this 13-mile tra­verse that begins at Glen Alps above Anchor­age. Con­sid­er­able off-trail hik­ing, plus a steep climb to a ridge top, might be out­side your com­fort zone. But this trail does offer a pro­found sense of soli­tude and some spec­tac­u­lar views. It also includes the nov­el­ty of hik­ing a mile-long sheep trail that tra­vers­es the back of The Wedge, some 500 feet above the seclud­ed waters of Ship Lake.

Difficulty: Moderate

After park­ing, con­tin­ue down the road until it nar­rows into a trail. The land cross­es briefly some pri­vate land. Hun­dreds of peo­ple hike or ski this trail every year. The trail is a grad­ual ascent up Rab­bit Creek Val­ley, with the creek and McHugh Peak on the right and the back side of flat­top, and Ptar­ma­gan Peak on your left. The trail starts in alders, but with­in a mile or two, opens onto alpine mead­ows. The trail even­tu­al­ly takes you to…  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate

This trail is per­fect for days when your time or ener­gy for a longer hike is lack­ing. Lying on the out­skirts of Anchor­age, these trails are most­ly flat. Though it is pop­u­lar with locals, espe­cial­ly for ski­ing and snow­shoe­ing in the win­ter, the trail is hard­ly crowded.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

This is part of the Hill­side Trail Sys­tem. It is one of the trails that is groomed for ski­ing in win­ter. There is access to this trail avail­able via the Pow­er­line, Gasline, White Spruce, Blue­ber­ry Hol­low, Alder, Panora­ma View, and Gold­en Grass trails.

A Chugach clas­sic with big glac­i­er views, this trail is wide­ly con­sid­ered one of the best in Alas­ka! It begins out­side of Gird­wood and ends at the Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, with an option to pack­raft rough­ly 9 miles of Eagle Riv­er. Suit­able for a novice back­pack­er and begin­ner pack­rafter (if you choose the pack­raft­ing route option).

Difficulty: Moderate

Black Tail Rocks is a very airy climb that stretch­es to 4,446 feet above Eagle Riv­er, a town locat­ed just north of Anchor­age. It’s a jour­ney that involves only a min­i­mal amount of hand-over-hand scram­bling; you’ll be fol­low­ing a trail for most of the 4‑mile, 2,750-foot hike. And you’ll have a fine view from the top, look­ing up the length of the seclud­ed Mead­ow Creek Val­ley and well into the deep inner reach­es of the Chugach Mountains.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

This trail is a good one for run­ners with dogs. Dogs must be on a leash when on the trail and open fires are pro­hib­it­ed. This is a beau­ti­ful trail any time of year and is easy and a good trip for the whole fam­i­ly. Please be sure to avoid the water because there are beavers in the area and it is pos­si­ble to get beaver fever aka Giardiasis.

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail goes up for a short dis­tance and then joins with the orig­i­nal trail which is more direct but it cross­es pri­vate prop­er­ty. Con­tin­ue up, and when you get to the sad­dle, you can turn right onto the Mt. Mag­nif­i­cant Trail to fol­low the ridge that ends at the moun­tain, or left con­tin­u­ing along the orig­i­nal trail. The trail offers nice views of Cook Inlet and even Denali on a clear day.

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail­head to this route pro­vides access to Bear Moun­tain and Mt. Eklut­na. It leads along an old roadbed that can be steep and mud­dy in sec­tions. The trail also has a few stream cross­ings with­out bridges for the aver­age adventurer.

Difficulty: Easy

This wide trail con­tin­ues from mile 4, up the val­ley to the Bird Creek cross­ing. A less devel­oped trail con­tin­ues on for anoth­er 2 miles, then quick­ly gains ele­va­tion to the pass. Trav­el­ing to the East from Bird Creek Pass will lead you to Griz­zly Bear Lake and Moraine Pass.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 1 mile

If you only have a lit­tle expe­ri­ence doing off-trail hik­ing, then this scenic 5‑miler will help you get a bit more under your belt. Begin­ning on Rab­bit Creek Trail, in the Front Range just above Anchor­age, this hike vis­its a sur­pris­ing­ly expan­sive and scenic plateau that remains hid­den from sight until you actu­al­ly climb to it. 

This area is accessed from mul­ti­ple trails. Most peo­ple start at the Glen Alps park­ing lot and fol­low the trail toward Willi­waw Lakes. Once you cross over Camp­bell Creek, you can go over the ridge by tak­ing a right where the trail forks (steep but fast) or around to left (eas­i­er, but much longer). Good for hik­ing, snow­shoe­ing or ski­ing. Some even run this trail.

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