Fairbanks Parks & Trails

Fairbanks is known as the gateway to the arctic, being the primary access point to all adventures that travel above the Arctic Circle. That’s a huge area of trails and wilderness worth exploring. But there are also plenty of opportunities to get out in the immediate vicinity with stunning scenery, winding waterways, and a high probability of wildlife encounters as your reward.

In fact, many of Fairbanks’ best opportunities to explore fall within city limits. Trails traversing historic sites allow visitors to connect with the past, including Creamer’s Field (on site at a historic dairy). The Chena Riverwalk spans downtown Fairbanks and passes by the original site on which Fairbanks was founded in 1901. These are pleasant and easy options that can fit into any schedule (particularly underneath the midnight sun).

Day hikes start right at the edge of town, on the UAF Trail System or atop Murphy and Ester Dome. The rolling hills outside of Fairbanks provide quick access to great views of the Alaska Range (including Denali) and Fairbanks on a clear day.

Strap on a backpack and bring along the bear spray for longer forays into the Interior’s wilderness on well- trod trails at Angel Rocks, Granite Tors, and Wickersham Dome. Each boasts panoramic top-of-the-world views and are suitable for multi-day excursions. Many of these trails also have shorter sections available if you’re only looking for a day hike.

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Fairbanks Hiking Trails

Difficulty: Moderate

The White Moun­tains Nation­al Recre­ation Area is home to 200+-miles of trail tra­vers­ing a mil­lion acres of wilder­ness and a moun­tain range named for the dom­i­nant col­or of its lime­stone foun­da­tion. To get there, dri­ve 28 miles on the Elliott High­way from Fox (where it splits with the Steese) and look for signs mark­ing the trail­head. The trail­head is the start­ing point for both the Sum­mit Trail, and the Ski Loop Trail, a 5‑mile loop and a nice  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 2 miles

This path was con­struct­ed to pro­vide a place for hik­ers to view the plantlife around inte­ri­or Alas­ka. This is a unique trail that allows hik­ers to view things that would be impos­si­ble to hike with­out a trail. There are all types of wildlife and small plants. Water­boots are rec­om­mend­ed in spring. 

Difficulty: Easy

The Chena River­walk makes for a relax­ing self-paced stroll along the Chena Riv­er and through the most scenic parks and plazas of his­toric down­town. It’s best when flow­ers are in full bloom (July-August). The path stretch­es approx­i­mate­ly 3.5 miles between Pio­neer Park and Air­port Way, with longer options avail­able. Or — park at Immac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church or in the Down­town Trans­porta­tion Cen­ter for a short­er jaunt.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

Eas­i­ly one of the most scenic dri­ves in the Inte­ri­or, the trip out to Table Top Moun­tain from Fair­banks winds deep into the cen­ter of White Moun­tains Nation­al Recre­ation Area, ris­ing up hill­sides and dip­ping down into val­leys for a rolling pic­ture show of spruce for­est and snaking riverbeds. The hike to Table Top Moun­tain is just as spec­tac­u­lar, pro­vid­ing panoram­ic views of the White Moun­tains from the cen­ter of the range, and is a short must  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult

This 15-mile loop is well worth the mod­er­ate to stren­u­ous hike. This trail pro­vides views of tors, unusu­al­ly shaped out­crop­pings that were formed 70 mil­lion to 90 mil­lion years ago when molten rock pushed upward and cooled before reach­ing the surface.

Difficulty: Easy

This is an exten­sion from Low­er Angel Creek Cab­in and serves as the sum­mer access route to reach Upper Angel Creek Cab­in because the win­ter route is too wet to hike until the trail freezes. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 11 miles

This hike is great for the ear­ly-ris­ing fly fish­er­man. The lake is full of grayling and there are often cari­bou, moose and bears along the trail. The hike fol­lows an old min­ing trail that par­al­lels the Susit­na Riv­er to Snod­grass Lake. There are many active mines along this hike and be sure to keep an eye out for grizzleys. 

Once a small dairy owned by a cou­ple named Cream­er, this land is now an extra­or­di­nary wildlife refuge. More than 100 species of birds and mam­mals call this wilder­ness home (sand­hill cranes and mal­lards show up all sum­mer), and there are miles of trails that mean­der through a vari­ety of habitats.

Difficulty: Moderate

Grape­fruit Rocks is on the short list of favorite spots for local rock climbers, who make fre­quent week­end trips to these lime­stone for­ma­tions and boul­ders stand­ing 50 miles north of Fair­banks. Grape­fruit Rocks is both off the beat­en path” and yet still acces­si­ble by road, and offers some of the best rock climb­ing in the Inte­ri­or. It makes for a great day hike to watch climbers attempt runs on a vari­ety of lime­stone facades. Feel­ing bold?  ...more

Difficulty: Easy

Mur­phy Dome is a recre­ation­al site most pop­u­lar with ATV rid­ers and hik­ers. It lies about twen­ty miles out­side of the Fair­banks, most of which are trav­eled on Mur­phy Dome Road off of Sheep Creek Road which can be accessed from the UAF cam­pus. This Dome is also a pop­u­lar place to watch sun­sets in the sum­mer and fall, or to observe the north­ern lights in winter. 

Grow­den Park is an expan­sive park sit­u­at­ed in down­town Fair­banks. Growden’s play­ground and open play areas are pop­u­lar with Fair­banks fam­i­lies, and uti­lized for a vari­ety of recre­ation­al activ­i­ties rang­ing from fris­bee foot­ball to medieval arts and role playing.

Difficulty: Easy

A win­ter use trail that access­es two cab­ins; Angel Creek Low­er Cab­in and Angel Creek Upper Cab­in. It’s pos­si­ble to hike in dur­ing the sum­mer, but the ground is usu­al­ly very wet, so it’s advis­able to take the new sum­mer trail to the upper cab­in. It leaves from near the low­er cab­in and tra­vers­es the hill­sides for sev­er­al miles before descend­ing to the upper cabin. 

Difficulty: Easy

One of the ways in which the Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Fair­banks (UAF) dis­tin­guish­es itself is through an insti­tu­tion-wide affin­i­ty for the out­doors (their newest slo­gan is Nat­u­ral­ly Inspir­ing”). And much to the delight of stu­dents and res­i­dents, UAF main­tains an in-town trail net­work for ski­ing, hik­ing, snow­shoe­ing, bik­ing, and run­ning that is direct­ly acces­si­ble from cam­pus (also very pop­u­lar with dog walkers). 

Recre­ation­al and com­pet­i­tive cross-coun­try skiers alike are pas­sion­ate about Birch Hill Recre­ation Area; a favorite among locals with its exten­sive and chal­leng­ing trails that are always well-groomed, for both clas­si­cal and skate skiers.

Difficulty: Easy

From the top of the domes, take the side trails to the south sides of the hills and look for both blue­ber­ries and cranberries. 

The idea of this down­town plaza stemmed from a cel­e­bra­tion of the sil­ver anniver­sary of Alaska’s state­hood in 1984. Through the work of Fes­ti­val Fair­banks, Inc. 84 Direc­tor, William R. Wood, the Fair­banks City Coun­cil sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Gold­en Heart Plaza. Con­struc­tion was com­plet­ed in 1987 and fund­ed by dona­tions from Fair­banks cit­i­zens, fam­i­lies, busi­ness­es, and associations. 

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a mod­er­ate­ly dif­fi­cult 5 mile long trail that begins and ends at the Wick­er­sham Dome Trail­head at Mile 28 Elliot High­way. This trail offers beau­ti­ful views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali (Mt. McKinley).

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 29 miles

One of the best trips near Fair­banks fea­tures incred­i­ble views, excel­lent walk­ing, and easy logis­tics. For much of the route you’ll fol­low rock cairns accom­pa­nied by mileage posts as you cruise through undu­lat­ing alpine ter­rain. This is a suit­able trip for a begin­ner back­pack­er who has a high lev­el of fitness.

This is the site of the orig­i­nal air­field in Fair­banks, from which the first air­plane to leave the ground in Alas­ka took flight in 1913. Today, res­i­dents often use the grassy open areas to fly kites, exer­cise their dogs, or have a pic­nic. School chil­dren walk between the library and ele­men­tary school that bor­der the park to the east and west. Wildlife sight­ings are always a pos­si­bil­i­ty, par­tic­u­lar­ly for birds and moose.

Locat­ed on San­ta Claus Lane, the Ter­ry Miller Memo­r­i­al Park fea­tures a pic­nic area, chil­dren’s play­ground, a spa­cious gaze­bo donat­ed by the North Pole Rotary Club and an up close view of the Alas­ka Rail­road as it pass­es by.

Difficulty: Moderate

A short or long day hike awaits at Angel Rocks, a scenic dri­ve out Chena Hot Springs Road and with­in easy range of the reju­ve­nat­ing waters that have drawn trav­el­ers for over a cen­tu­ry. The best option for a short day trip in this area is the 3.5‑mile loop that begins on even ground along the north fork of the Chena Riv­er and then sharply climbs up 900ft. For a longer hike to end with a refresh­ing dip in nat­ur­al hot springs, park at the same  ...more

This pub­lic use area rough­ly 2,000 acres is sand­wiched between Sheep Creek, Gold­stream and Bal­laine roads. The area is criss-crossed with dog mush­ing, ski­ing, ski­jor­ing and snow­ma­chine trails. This is also is a pop­u­lar blue­ber­ry-pick­ing spot.

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