Lake Clark National Park Hiking Trails

Lake Clark only has two areas with maintained trails, the rest of the trail-less tundra of the park's alpine regions attracts adventurous backpackers. We've broken out the day hikes by area, as well as the three most popular backpacking treks.

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Tanalian Trails in Port Alsworth

This four-trail system starts in Port Alsworth and offers a variety of distances and difficulty levels. You can pick up a trail map at the visitor center in Port Alsworth or download a copy from the Lake Clark National Park website. To get to the trailhead, walk down the southernmost of Port Alsworth’s two airstrips, past the visit center towards Hardenberg Bay. Take the last road on the right and follow it to the trailhead.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 600 feet

This trail makes a loop around a small beaver pond and con­nects back via the Tana­lian Falls trail. It’s espe­cial­ly beau­ti­ful in fall, fall, when gold­en birch trees explode in col­or. This is the gen­tlest of the avail­able hikes in Port Alsworth.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles Elevation Gain: 650 feet

This rel­a­tive­ly lev­el, mod­er­ate­ly intense trail mean­ders through the for­est, with inter­mit­tent views of Lake Clark to the North, Tana­lian Moun­tain to the east, and Holey and Martha’s Moun­tains to the south. It ends at the impres­sive­ly pow­er­ful Tana­lian Falls. Make it a loop by return­ing via the Beaver Pond Loop.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 800 feet

Begin this hike on the Tana­lian Falls trail; con­tin­ue past the falls to the shores of Kon­trashi­buna Lake. This long, nar­row lake is nes­tled between steep moun­tains on either shore. The offi­cial trail ends at the lake, but a brushed, unmain­tained social trail con­tin­ues along the lake’s north shore. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 8 miles Elevation Gain: 4700 feet

This is the most stren­u­ous of the hik­ing options in Port Alsworth, but the views are worth the effort. From the sum­mit of Tana­lian Moun­tain, you’ll enjoy a 360-degree view of Lake Clark, Kon­trashi­buna Lake, and the Chig­mit Mountains.

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On Lake Clark

There’s only one maintained trail outside of Port Alsworth.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles

Climb the only main­tained trail out­side of Port Alsworth. Fol­low the trail for one mile to cross Portage Creek. Con­tin­ue anoth­er two miles into the alpine tun­dra. From the end of the trail, you can explore for miles along an alpine ridge over­look­ing Lake Clark. 

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On Upper Twin Lake

Although none of the trails on Upper Twin Lake are officially maintained, they have been worn into the tundra by years of travel—first by Dick Proenneke and now by the visitors that come to his homestead and Twin Lakes each summer. Most are relatively easy to follow, but backcountry navigation skills are helpful.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile Elevation Gain: 200 feet

This out-and-back trail leaves from the His­toric Proen­neke Cab­in site and ascends to a promi­nent point ½‑mile behind the cab­in to the north of Hope Creek. A unique­ly bal­anced rock marks the end of this trail and makes a great spot to take in the view of Upper Twin Lake. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 5 miles Elevation Gain: 1200 feet

This trail leaves from the prim­i­tive camp­ground at Hope Creek. The trail fol­lows the south side of Hope Creek ascend­ing the creek’s val­ley for miles. This is a great val­ley for catch­ing a glimpse of black or brown bears or Dall sheep. 

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 3 miles Elevation Gain: 1000 feet

This trail leaves from the Emer­son Creek delta, on the north side of Upper Twin Lakes, just east of the stream that con­nects the Upper and Low­er Twin Lakes. A good end­ing point is a large water­fall, 1.75 miles up the trail. You can stop at the bot­tom of the falls or climb a steep trail to the bluff above the falls. The trail con­tin­ues into the alpine, but even­tu­al­ly dis­ap­pears into the tundra.

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Backpacking

All backpacking trips in Lake Clark require Backcountry Navigation Skills due to the scarcity of maintained trails. There are hundreds of options for backpacking routes; the only limits are your skills and imagination. A few popular routes are outlined below. These are not complete trip reports, but instead ideas to get you started on planning your own trip. If you’re not confident in your wilderness traveling abilities, consider hiring a guide.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 12 miles

This 12-plus-mile back­pack­ing route lets you see the park’s most icon­ic lakes: the alpine Turquoise Lake and the bore­al Twin Lakes. Wildlife is com­mon along this route, espe­cial­ly Dall sheep in the alpine val­leys between the lakes.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 10 miles

Choose this trip if you want to com­mit to few­er miles and don’t mind a lit­tle bushwack­ing. The flights for this trip are typ­i­cal­ly the least expen­sive of the trips list­ed here; since it’s the clos­est to Port Alsworth it requires less flight time.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 15 miles

Choose this trip if you def­i­nite­ly want to vis­it Richard Proenneke’s cab­in and you want a chal­leng­ing hike. Of the main three Lake Clark back­pack­ing trips, this trip offers the most chal­leng­ing ter­rain and requires the most back­coun­try nav­i­ga­tion skills.

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