Girdwood Parks & Trails
The Girdwood Valley and the peaks that rise above it offer something for everyone, whether you want a quick stroll in the woods or a multi-day expedition.
It’s also gloriously unique. Since Girdwood sits in North America’s northernmost temperate coastal rainforest, it features a very different ecosystem than anything else you’ll experience in Alaska: You’ll find Rufous hummingbirds, lichens, ferns, fungi and mosses found only in such wet, forested environs. It also offers some visceral delights: Nothing beats the clean, earthy smell of the Girdwood woods after a rain shower.
Want to explore this lush area? If you’re not ready to hit the trails alone, Ascending Path offers nice guided hikes around the Girdwood area. But if you’d like to set out yourself, here are the best places to start:
Easy Hike: Winner Creek Trail
Everyone flocks to this trail, and for good reason—it’s a classic. Starting and ending from the luxurious (but still down-to-earth) Hotel Alyeska, the Winner Creek Trail leads to a gorge and the hand tram through a think forest of spruce and cottonwood trees. Granted, this trail can get crowded, but typically on just the first mile, which has a nice, accessible boardwalk and interpretive signage.
Off-the-Beaten Path: Upper Winner Creek Trail
If you want the convenience of the Winner Creek Trail, but away from the crowds, just hang a right turn at the Winner Creek Trail’s T intersection. Instead of heading toward the gorge and hand tram, you can take the Upper Winner Creek Trail toward Berry Pass and some spectacular Chugach scenery.
Hearty Hikes: Crow Pass Trail and North Face Trail
The Crow Pass trailhead is located at the dead-end of Crow Creek Road. The trail leads over the Chugach, past glaciers and—if you’ve got a lot of time—into Eagle River Valley. This thru-hike typically takes a few days, but a day hike to the Pass provides outstanding wildlife-viewing opportunities, as well as workout.
The North Face Trail, which leaves from Hotel Alyeska (and then heads straight up), is a must-do for strong hikers. One bonus: It’s free to ride the tram back down the mountain. Plus, there are often a lot of blue, salmon and watermelon berries to nibble along your 2,000-foot hike.
A Quick High-Alpine Adventure: Ride the Tram
For speed and scenery, nothing beats riding the Alyeska Tram up the North Face into the ski area. You’ll see glaciers galore, high-alpine tundra, Turnagain Arm’s bore tide, and a fair amount of wildlife in the distance. Multiple hiking options up and down the mountain exist, too, including a guided option onto the remnant Alyeska glacier. If you go the latter route, you can typically see patches of snow until mid-July.
Keep these other hikes in mind, too: California Creek, Bird to Gird Pathway, Iditarod National Historic Trail (from Crow Creek Mine), the Beaver Pond Trail and, really, any other ski trails within the Alyeska ski resort. If you drive down the road a few minutes, Portage Valley offers several great hiking trails, too.
Girdwood Hiking Trail Videos
Girdwood Hiking Trails
If you have the ability to transport bicycles, this trail makes for a great afternoon trip. The dirt path winds through the Portage Valley, passing glacial lakes and ending at Portage Lake (this part of the trip is 5 miles each way). Make sure to bring your camera: you’ll see hanging glaciers and, very likely, some wildlife.
Primarily built to provide pack-rafters and kayakers access to the headwaters of Twentymile River, this 9‑mile-long trail has also proved a draw for hikers — and with good reason. Just 45 minutes south of Anchorage, it makes for a very scenic hike into some high, wild, glacier-girted country.
Our guide to the best bike trails around Girdwood and Turnagain Arm. You’ll find gorgeous mountain scenery, lakes, creeks, and a variety wildlife — as well as plenty of bicycle trails that make it easy to absorb it all at your own pace. Need a bicycle? You can rent them at Powder Hound Ski and Bike Shop, located in the heart of Girdwood at the base of Alyeska Resort.
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
Spencer Glacier rises 3,500 feet in a stunning, natural ramp from a lake of royal-blue icebergs in the Chugach National Forest just 60 miles south of Anchorage. It’s a family-friendly recreation destination featuring camping, hiking, glacier exploration, nature walks, paddling and sightseeing. Maybe best of all: You have to take a train to get there!
Rent a mountain bike (and all the body armor you need) for a thrilling, two-wheel ride down Mt. Alyeska. Lessons and tours of the route are offered. Or, go for a hike on one of the many area trails, either with a guide or on your own. You can even strap on some crampons and go trekking on a glacier.
If you want a great workout — to stunning mountain views high above the valley floor below — but want to save your knees on the way down, this trail is for you. It leaves from the Alyeska Resort tram building and climbs steep switchbacks 2.2 miles and 2000 feet to the mid-mountain restaurant where you can catch a free aerial tram ride back down to the hotel.
Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood (45 minutes south of Anchorage) is one of our favorite trails to take visiting friends and family. It’s an easy 3‑mile hike or bike ride on a wide, well-developed trail with gentle elevation gain that winds through America’s northernmost rainforest, crosses a wooden bridge over a thundering blue-water gorge, connects to a hand tram high above thrashing Glacier Creek, then ends on Crow Creek Mine Road just below ...more
The Iditarod National Historic Trail is Alaska’s sole National Historic Trail. This network of 2,300-mile winter trails evolved to connect Alaskan Native villages, established the dog-team mail and supply route during Alaska’s Gold Rush, and now serves as a vital recreation and travel link.
The Alyeska Multi-Use Pathway is a paved, lighted multi-use trail that extends from the Seward Hwy to the Hotel Alyeska. The path is popular with walkers and runners, and with a fresh batch of snow it becomes a great classic ski trail.
This bike ride takes you along a pretty flat and mellow single track, and through the heart of Girdwood. Running along Glacier Creek, the trail connects the new and old town sites. This is a great ride for anyone new to mountain biking, but it’s also an efficient way to get from one end of town to the other.
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
Hiking up Mt. Alyeska is a challenge, but the reward is great views of Turnagain Arm, the seven “hanging” glaciers of Girdwood Valley, and peaks stretching deep into the Chugach Mountain range. Below you’ll find our recommended routes to the top; all leave from the Alyeska Hotel (where you’ll find trail maps). While any summer day is good for this hike, try to time your visit around one of the area’s events — you’ll have something extra to… ...more
Access the trails from the end of Alberg Loop. The trails are moderate to difficult for skiing and should be skied counterclockwise. These are multi-use trails during the summer and then transition to being Nordic only in the winter months.
Here’s another great stop to take in the scenic beauty of the mountains and the Turnagain Arm. Here you can access the Bird to Gird paved multi use pathway. From this spot it’s a six-mile journey down the trail, which features stunning views and interpretive signs. Take a walk or a bike ride to Girdwood for a bite to eat. And don’t forget to look for Beluga whales a few hours before high tide (as they come in with the tide to feed on the… ...more
Take this trail from the Gird-Bird Trail or from the Crow Creek entrance: You’ll enter at California Creek Trailhead and take a left at the marking onto Beaver Pond Trail. The trail then runs approximately 2.5 miles along the base of Penguin Ridge. Although the trail can be a bit overgrown, crews have improved it immensely in recent years, and it’s now more accessible, all season. Hike or bike.