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.

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.

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Girdwood Hiking Trails

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. 2021: Hand tram cur­rent­ly closed

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.

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

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: 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. 

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. 

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