Photo Credit: Upper Winner Creek Trail

Girdwood Parks & Trails

One of Girdwood's most popular trails, the North Face Trail of Mt. Alyeska

Hike the North Face Trail  (1:46)

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

Show Map

Girdwood Hiking Trails

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 9 miles

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.

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. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

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. 

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!

Difficulty: Easy

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

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

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.

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.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 3 miles

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.

Difficulty: Easy

This trail is a con­nec­tor between the Hotel Alyeska and Crys­tal Moun­tain Rd. 

Difficulty: Moderate

Take a hike along Cal­i­for­nia Creek and enjoy the qui­et, wood­ed path. You’ll find the Trail­head on Crow Creek Road near Cal­i­for­nia Creek. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 4 miles

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.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a short hike to a pic­turesque, 15ft waterfall. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

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.

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: Moderate Distance: 1 mile

Access to Abe’s Trail is via the Cal­i­for­na Creek/​Beaver Pond Trail North Access. This is a steep climb that affords nice views of the Cook Inlet and Gird­wood area. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

The trail­head can be found .5 miles up Crow Creek Road, just before the bridge over Cal­i­for­nia Creek. 

Difficulty: Moderate

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. 

Difficulty: Moderate

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. 

Difficulty: Easy

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

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

[{"slug":"girdwood","title":"Girdwood"},{"slug":"anchorage","title":"Anchorage"},{"slug":"kenai-peninsula","title":"Kenai Peninsula Audio Guide"},{"slug":"chugach-national-forest","title":"Chugach National Forest"}]

Explore Further

Expert Advice