Best Things To Do In the Mat-Su Valley
1. See Matanuska Glacier
Seize your chance to walk right up to—and touch—a massive river of ice! One of the biggest roadside glaciers, the Matanuska Glacier is roughly an hour north of Palmer/Wasilla on the gorgeous Glenn Highway. There’s a fee to walk up to it (the access point passes through private land), but there are other options if you just want to see it. You can also opt for a tour or expedition to really explore this natural wonder.
2. Get Out on the Water
See the stunning Alaskan backcountry on a rafting tour in the Mat-Su Valley. Choose a calm float or thrilling whitewater rapids—either way you’ll be treated to endless views and opportunities to spot wildlife.
The rivers of the Mat-Su Valley teem with salmon and trout, offering the opportunity to angle Alaska-style. You can experience the stellar fishing of the Mat-Su Valley in a number of ways: Book a fishing charter and cast from a raft, head to a fishing lodge, go angling along the roadside, or fly in to a remote spot!
3. Get a Bird’s-eye View
Experience the thrill of flightseeing in the Mat-Su Valley: Choose an airplane or a helicopter and fly over the dramatic scenery, getting up-close views of the peaks of the Alaska Range, including Denali. Add a glacier landing and you’ll be able to step out onto a river of blue ice.
Feel the breeze in your hair with a trip down a zipline in the Mat-Su Valley, where you’ll find Alaska’s fastest zipline as well as a couple of its longest. In addition to the exciting ride, you’ll also see some gorgeous scenery as you fly through the canopy!
4. See the Backcountry
The lush Mat-Su Valley offers many opportunities to get out to see scenery and wildlife. Take an ATV or Jeep tour and you’ll splash through rivers as you drive over the tundra. Guided hiking tours offer options for all levels of hikers and feature amazing views. You can also meet Iditarod dogs and racers and experience the thrill of dog sledding any time of year, either on a glacier or on a wheeled sled through the forest. Everywhere you go, you’ll find breathtaking scenery; explore it with a hike on your own, or take scenic drive through areas like Hatcher Pass.
5. Explore Alaska’s Agricultural Hub
As Alaska’s central area for farming and agriculture, the beautiful Mat-Su Valley makes for a fascinating and fun visit. Go on a sightseeing or food tour and meet the local farmers who grow giant vegetables here.
If you happen to visit the last week of August and first week of September, your trip will coincide with the Alaska State Fair, where Alaska's finest agricultural products are on display. Marvel at the giant vegetables grown under the midnight sun. Recent record breakers include a 2051 pound giant pumpkin in 2019, and a 138 pound green cabbage in 2012.
6. Visit in Winter
The fun continues when the snow falls. Go snowmobiling, dog sledding, enjoy clear skies on a winter flightseeing tour, enjoy groomed cross-country ski trails, and more.
Things To Do
Mat-Su Valley Day Tours & Attractions View All
There’s climbing a mountain – and then there’s climbing an ICE mountain. Regardless of your climbing ability or experience, you’ll end the day feeling fulfilled and inspired. MICA also offers short, guided hikes and longer treks if you prefer a more leisurely explore of the glacier and its grandeur.
Combine great views of the Alaska Range and Denali with the thrill of ziplining. Set in the forested ridges above the Talkeetna River Valley, this is the farthest-north canopy tour in North America. On these nine ziplines and three suspension bridges, you can get up close to the birch, cottonwood, and spruce trees of the boreal forest — it’s earth’s largest ecosystem and a critical nesting habitat for migrating songbirds.
Tour working farms in Palmer, Anchorage, and Talkeetna. You’ll take guided walks around the farms, touching plants, breathing in the air and sometimes even tasting something freshly picked. But there is also a lot of storytelling, learning about the unique challenges that Alaska farmers face. Some tours offer option to sample other local products like Alaska beer and birch syrup.
Get a unique view of the Alaskan wilderness on a four- or seven-day backpacking trip through the backcountry. You’ll be trekking on Kesugi Ridge in Denali State Park, with magnificent views of Mt. McKinley and of course plenty of wildlife to spot along the way. Your experienced naturalist guide will be with you the whole way, cooking up great meals at your campsites. You should be fit enough to carry a pack up moderate hills, though you’ll ...more
Get hands-on and up close as you learn about local animals, trappers, and the Dena’ina Indians, with the wilderness as your classroom. Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures makes it possible with their jet boat adventures on the Susitna, Talkeetna and Chulitna Rivers. For some visitors, this exploration will be their deepest immersion into the Alaskan wilderness — something you just can’t get from a flightseeing tour, a cruise, or a car.
Experience the excitement of racing champion sled dogs at the Alaska Mushing School, just 75 minutes from Anchorage. Get a professional’s insight into the mushing lifestyle as you ride behind a team of energetic sled dogs on trails connected to the famous Iditarod route. Bundle up and ride in comfort, or brave the cold and drive the team yourself!
Go hiking in the Alaskan wilderness, but bookend your hike with a spectacular helicopter ride. Lift off from Talkeetna for a short, scenic flight into the boreal forest around town. Then get ready to start hiking with your experienced naturalist guide. You’ll get great views of Denali, the Alaska Range, and countless mountain peaks as you walk through the alpine tundra of the South Denali area — it’s a hiker’s paradise only accessible by chopper. ...more
Owners Matti and Dan cannot think of a better way to appreciate Alaska than sharing it with others. Matti was born and raised in Palmer, Alaska and has been on snowmachines most of her life. Alaska Backcountry Adventures offers “mild to wild” experiences and prides itself on providing a customized experience for all levels of ability. It offers the widest variety of expeditions on the latest and greatest equipment.
Stunning scenery, a thrilling ride and happy puppies: this tour out of the Anchorage area offers an unbeatable combination of classic Alaska experiences that will delight families or — really, anybody. Taking a total of about 90 minutes, and running from mid-May to early September, this tour includes a Flightseeing round trip, a small friendly group environment, and plenty of one-on-one time with the dogs and their mushers.
If you’re new to whitewater rafting or experienced in shooting through rapids, Lion’s Head makes for an exciting whitewater rafting trip. You’ll spend 2.5 hours speeding down class II, III, and IV whitewater, either paddling yourself or hanging on as your guide steers the raft downstream. All the while, you’ll be passing through gorgeous wilderness — wide-open vistas with massive rock formations — where you’ll have the opportunity to look for ...more
While you may never join the ranks of climbers who have summited Denali, an up-close view of North America’s tallest peak can still be yours. K2 Aviation offers once-in-a-lifetime flightseeing tours among and above the Alaska Range. Add a glacier landing to get a sense of how immense these peaks really are.
The location of this ATV adventure is the midpoint between Anchorage and Glennallen. Plenty of travelers drive through this area without pausing for more than a picture of the roadside glacier, but Glacier View ATV’s three-hour tour — the only ATV excursion in this part of Alaska — makes this tour well worth a longer stop.
Locally known as “The Glacier Landing Company,” TAT has been flying climbers and sightseers to the Alaska Range and Denali since 1947. Talkeetna Air Taxi features a custom-designed fleet of planes, a dedicated customer service team, and a variety of tours for every budget.
This fly-in wilderness lodge on a private lake in the Talkeetna Mountains is a great place to unplug. Choose from 3 private cabins and enjoy home-cooked meals served family style with other guests. Take guided walks to look for wildlife or wild berries, or just relax and enjoy the peace and blissful views.
There’s still gold in Alaska, and you can learn from Denali Gold Tours what it takes to pan for the shiny flakes in pristine water near Trapper Creek. Spend a half-day or full-day in the gorgeous Alaska countryside with your guide, who will share old-timer panning techniques and stories from the dramatic days of Alaska’s gold rush.
The Northwoods Lodge is a remote lodge where visitors can find themselves in a 45 minute flight from Anchorage. The lodge specializes in guided fishing, and guests can enjoy 8 to 10 hours of fishing a day if they choose. Guides help you spin or fly fish for trophy king salmon, silver and sockeye salmon, or resident rainbow trout, arctic grayling and northern pike
Explore Alaska on foot — take a scenic day hike into the South Denali area. Choose one of 3 great hikes; from an easy, 2‑mile stroll to a moderately strenuous 5½-hour hike. You’ll get spectacular views and see plenty of wildlife as you trek with your experienced naturalist guide. Depending on the hike you may pass pristine lakes, see an old pioneer’s cabin, catch a glimpse of Mt. McKinley, and even have the chance to spot foraging bears. These ...more
Experience a scenic float along a glacial river. Just 90 minutes from Anchorage, the Matanuska Glacier is Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier, and the water running underneath creates a river that’s perfect for rafting. You’ll float downstream for up to 2 hours, taking in the scenery along the way — mountains, river channels, hillsides, moraines — and looking out for wildlife. It’s fun for the whole family — anyone ages 5 and up can do this ...more
Exploring Alaska’s backcountry lakes, forests and rivers is a phenomenal experience. Wilderness Place Lodge — tucked away on a remote river northwest of Anchorage — offers excellent access to nearly any freshwater fish you came to Alaska for, along with a unique eco-travel experience that comes with a high level of service, a variety of non-fishing activities and the mellow freedom to create an Alaskan experience that suits your own taste.
Experience the thrill of walking or climbing on a glacier. The Matanuska is Alaska’s largest road-accessible glacier, and it’s just 90 minutes from Anchorage, so it’s an easy way to get up close and personal with these amazing natural wonders. You don’t need to be experienced in either activity — just be in good shape and up for adventure. You’ll either walk around on the glacier with crampons or learn how to use an ice axe and safely work your ...more
Riding Alaska ATV Tours showcase the wonders of the glacially-fed Eklutna Lake area, a local favorite hidden away just outside Anchorage. Bring the family for a fully-guided ride along the lake and beyond – across gravel moraines, over rushing rivers and through woodlands, to within sight of Eklutna glacier itself. Sit back and relax while your driver does all the work! Keep a look out: the peaceful landscape is alive with wildlife, including ...more
The Hurricane Turn Train operates on Thursday through Sunday between Talkeetna and Hurricane Gulch from mid May to mid September. You can either take a scenic journey round trip, or you can ask to be let off at whichever mile marker you choose. This train is how many people who live in the backcountry gain access to their homes or cabins. It is also popular for fishermen who gain access to some great fishing spots by train. Get back on the ...more
Winter or summer, experience the thrill of running Iditarod sled dogs and even have a chance to drive! Meet the sled dogs and hear first-hand just what it’s like to run the Iditarod.
Summer or winter, visit a champion kennel, meet friendly dogs and an experienced musher for a ride along private trails with views of Denali. Opt to ride in the sled or mush your own. Or, for a truly authentic adventure, go on a training run for the Iditarod! Large groups and special events welcome when organized in advance.
Explore the rivers of southcentral Alaska on a float or fishing trip guided by Hell Bent Fishing Charters. Raft along a scenic river hiding away just minutes off the road system. It fits perfectly into a half day or full day, when you want to step out of the hustle and bustle of your vacation and into authentic Alaska.
Feel the thrill of exploring the Alaskan wilderness while driving your own snowmobile over the tundra, looking for wildlife and taking in amazing views. And on a clear day you’ll get an amazing view of Denali.
With Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours, you can experience glaciers inaccessible by road. Never fear if you’ve never driven an before; this company teaches you to maneuver your ATV through the Alaskan wilderness with your guide at the lead. Your destination is the magnificent Knik Glacier, where you’ll enjoy lunch and gorgeous scenery.
Hop aboard an eco-friendly snowmobile in Girdwood and ride on groomed trails beneath massive, 7,000-foot glaciated peaks or visit the dazzling blue ice of Spencer Glacier. Or, head north of Anchorage for a trail ride through mid-alpine black spruce forests. No experience necessary, all gear provided, and warm beverages and snacks included.
Nothing gets your heart pounding like zooming high above a glacially carved valley. The Nitro and G2 are two of the longest zips in Alaska, and the G2 is the fastest in the state. You’ll get the most amazing minute or so of sight-seeing you’ve ever had, gliding up to a half mile near the Matanuska River, and into the forested area around Matanuska Glacier.
Head out into the Alaskan wilderness on this exciting ATV adventure, driving through woods and splashing through rivers on your way to a gorgeous glacial moraine surrounded by towering snow-capped peaks. Transportation from Anchorage included.
Fish more of the hot spots with Phantom Charters, a family company run by folks who live to fish and bring a lifetime of insider knowledge to your trip. Using special, shallow-running boats to get into hard-to-reach waters, they’ll take you to best river fishing around Talkeetna. Wander the bank and cast for Silvers, Chums, Pinks, and Sockeyes, or troll from behind the boat as well as shore fish for the Big Kings.
Go for a relaxing 3‑hour float trip down gentle Willow Creek as you take in the gorgeous scenery of the Alaskan backcountry. Departing from Pioneer Lodge, just off the Parks Highway south of Talkeetna, you’ll board a raft with up to 6 others and an expert guide. Then just kick back, or grab a paddle if you like: You can expect easy-gliding Class I and II rapids on this gentle river.
Sample delicious syrup and sweets made from birch trees — like maple but not maple ‑at Kahiltna Birchworks in Talkeetna — the world’s largest producer of birch syrup. Stop in or shop online to experience this unique, local spin on a tempting treat. Located at mile 1.1 of the Talkeetna Spur Rd, just off the Parks Highway
Just south of the Caribou Creek bridge near mile marker 104 on the Glenn Highway in the shadow of the Lion’s Head rock formation, look for the turnoff for the Caribou Creek Recreational Mining Area. You are not going to get fabulously rich here and be the next star of the TV reality show Gold Rush, but you do have the opportunity to carry a gold pan and shovel, hike the steep half-mile-long trail down to the creek, and pan for gold.
Mat-Su Valley Parks & Trails View All
In the Talkeetna Mountains between the towns of Willow and Palmer, Hatcher Pass is a local favorite for recreation or a scenic drive. Hike in alpine tundra dotted with wildflowers and ptarmigan, ski fresh, deep powder, or visit Independence Mine Historical State Park.
Why Take This Hike This trail, located 90 minutes north of Anchorage just across the Matanuska River from downtown Palmer, makes no pretense about its purpose. Almost immediately after leaving the parking area, it begins to climb straight up the steep west face of Lazy Mountain. For some 2,000 feet, there’s nary a switchback or respite as the trail winds up to the summit ridge. It’s a truly breathless workout. The Details Out of Palmer,… ...more
This recreation area is just a mile and a half from town, but it feels like wilderness — with deep woods and several lakes, it’s a great place to hike, run, canoe, fish, or look for wildlife. Watch for otters, beavers, bears, foxes, moose, and more than 100 species of birds, including raptors and loons. The park’s best feature is a nicely groomed 3.5‑mile walking trail around X Lake through lush old-growth forest. Custom log benches are a nice… ...more
This short, paved trail is an hour’s drive north of Anchorage in southern Wasilla. It leads out to a bluff on Palmer Hay Flats — a large stretch of wetlands with all kinds of wildlife. There, a viewing platform overlooks the flats and the Chugach Mountains beyond.
As you approach the Independence Mine Parking Lot, the trail can be seen to the far right end. It crosses over a small bridge, and winds up past an old abandoned mining cabin, and then up a debris field and finally to the lake. Round trip, the hike is almost 2 miles, and the elevation gain is approximately 600 feet. The trail can be muddy and wet for the first .25 miles, but it’s worth the hike to see Gold Cord Lake, and a great view of the Mine ...more
About a half a mile past where the road turns sharply left (by the old Motherlode Restaurant) is a pull off on the left and archangel road to the right. The road is dirt, and in the summertime you can drive the trail for a mile or two, but it is pitted with deep holes and rocks. After a mile or two, a parking area and trail turns off to the right. Here the trail continues with little elevation gain initially, but after a mile or so you will ...more
It’s not very often that people can see a glacier in an untamed and remote location, far from any road or cruise-ship route. But if you feel capable and confident enough to climb a very rough trail up many vertical feet of rocky terrain, then you might consider undertaking the hike to Snowbird Pass, located high in the Talkeetna Mountains just north of Hatcher Pass. From this vantage point you can look down the entire length of Snowbird Glacier. ...more
Where else can you walk to the end of Main Street and find yourself at the confluence of three wild rivers, overlooking a 20,000-foot peak? Close to downtown, this large, river-centered park offers wide open, untouched spaces, along with great panoramic view of the Alaska Range.
A straightforward trip with big scenery payoffs, like the picturesque Mint Hut and a valley dotted with hanging glaciers. This trip is a great first backpacking trip in Alaska with simple logistics. It’s 16 miles with options for additional miles and side trips.
With a length of just 1.5 miles and a summit reaching only 874 feet, West Butte Trail on Bodenburg Butte — a 45-minute drive north of Anchorage — makes for a fine family outing. But even if you’re a more experienced hiker, don’t let the butte’s dwarf-like height dissuade you. This small bump in the center of a grand alluvial plain offers far-reaching views from its summit; plus, the climb includes a pulse-quickening 0.25 miles of stairs up the steep ...more
Want to feel dwarfed by Alaska’s mountains? Take a 2‑hour drive north on the Parks Highway and then up Hatcher Pass Road, where you’ll find this 2‑mile-long ATV trail — a wide but occasionally steep path that leads to the crest of Box Lake Ridge. From the big, rounded top of this ridge, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the enormous Talkeetna Mountains that surround you.
How to get ThereThe Plumley-Maud Trail can be accessed from the end of Maud Road, or from the corner on Plumley Road near Caudill Road. 1) Access from Maud Road: From Palmer go south east 3 1⁄2 miles on the Old Glenn Highway, take a left on Maud Road, follow Maud Road for 1 1⁄2 miles. There is a small turn around and limited parking before the creek directly east of the road. Please be careful not to block the entrance to the trail or the… ...more
Two trails travel over the Mat-Su College lands; one from the college and one from Snodgrass Hall. The Mat-Su College trailhead leads to a hilly loop and opens to beautiful views of Lazy Mountain, Twin Peaks, Bodenburge Butte, and Knik Glacier — the best mountain views in the entire greenbelt system.
Are you a mountain runner looking for a tough workout? Consider Pioneer Ridge Trail. This trail, located a 1‑hour drive north of Anchorage on scenic Knik River Road, climbs some 5,200 feet over its 6 miles. Other trails, like Lazy Mountain Trail and Mount Marathon Race Route, may be steeper or rockier, but no trail in the Chugach Mountains climbs so steadily for so long as Pioneer Ridge.
Beginning almost 120 miles northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway, the trail to the summit of Gunsight Mountain takes a while to reach. After all, it involves a 3.5‑mile, 3,300-foot climb through some very big country. But the view from the top makes for an all-day excursion that you won’t easily forget.
The 5‑mile-long Eska Falls Trail is located a 2‑hour drive north of Anchorage in the mountains above the town of Sutton. And it leads to one of nature’s symmetrically framed wonders — a 100-foot waterfall located at the end of a mile-long valley that’s flanked by two massive summits. This setting makes Eska Falls not so much a hike to a destination as much as a hike to a presentation.
Visible outside the windows of the Mat-Su Convention and Visitors Bureau, this state wildlife refuge is the result of the 1964 earthquake. Literally overnight, the land dropped by 6 to 20 feet; hay fields and pastureland became salt flats and marshland. Once home to cows and grains, the land is now prime habitat for moose, birds, and fish. Some 20,000 acres are protected in the refuge, which is a popular recreation and wildlife-viewing… ...more
The Fishhook Trailhead parking lot is located at mile 16.5 of Hatcher Pass Road. This area is actively used year round. In the summer it’s a great area to hike and in late summer the slopes are abundant with blueberries. This trailhead also leads to Marmot Mountain, were paragliders launch from the top and land in the parking lot. In the winter, the area draws individuals to sled, ski and snowmachine. This trailhead intersects with The Hatcher ...more
During periods of clear weather, this route through Denali State Park offers similar terrain and scenery to Denali National Park — including unparalleled views of Denali — without the cumbersome permitting process. This trail system offers many options for starting and ending points, as there are four trailheads along its length.
This 4.5‑mile trail, some 2 hours north of Anchorage on the west side of Hatcher Pass, climbs 1,000 feet up a very typical Talkeetna valley — long, broad, and lined with towering peaks on both sides. It also passes by relics and ruins of old mining days, when these valleys echoed with the sounds of picks and drills.
Summit Lake, located some 60 miles north of Anchorage at the crest of Hatcher Pass, offers a short, memorable lakeside ramble. Here you can explore the surrounding gullies and slopes or just sit and watch hang gliders drift out over the long Willow Creek Valley, which extends for miles from the west side of the pass.
Some 50 miles north of Anchorage, this 1.5‑mile trail makes for a fine family outing. From the picnic table at the uppermost end of the trail, you’ll find a satisfying panoramic view of the Matanuska River and Knik River valleys. It’s a view as good, or better, than that from many summits.
Located one-third of the way from Palmer to Wasilla, this 33-mile trail system meanders through boreal forest, farmland, and the rolling moraines left by the glaciers of the last Ice Age. The trails are some of the only non-mountain, non-motorized pathways in the area, and they’re popular with dog walkers, mountain bikers, geo-cachers, cross-country skiers, runners, and equestrians.
No official trail in Southcentral Alaska climbs as high as Matanuska Peak Trail. Beginning in a subdivision across the Matanuska River from Palmer, this nearly 6‑mile-long trail runs up some 5,700 vertical feet. Your destination is the 6,119-foot summit of Matanuska Peak, the very prominent rock spire that fills the sky just east of Palmer. But despite the imposing appearance of this mountain, the trail to its summit requires no extensive ...more
Beginning a 1‑hour drive north of Anchorage in Government Hill Recreation Area, Government Peak Race Trail offers a fine opportunity for a hard workout; it climbs some 3,700 vertical feet in just 3 miles. Plus, this climb doesn’t include any extraordinary dangers. (A friend refers to one short ledge on this trail as “death rock,” but she tends to exaggerate.) Some sections require special care to negotiate, but you won’t have to traverse any ...more
This trail follows an old railroad bed and is a great walk from downtown Palmer, with views of the Matanuska River and Chugach Range. Arrange for a shuttle at Moose Creek if you want to make this a one-way, 6.1‑mile trip, to Moose Creek State Recreation Wayside Moose Creek State Recreation Wayside.
Be careful, it’s easy to miss this turn-off as you drop down the hill, but look out for the sign “Caribou Creek Recreational Area.” This seldom-used campground is a quiet place to camp, away from highway noise. It has fire rings and picnic tables, and there’s a trail to the creek. It’s a one-mile walk to the water. It’s a nice stream and it’s part of the State Recreational Gold Mining Area. So bring a pan and try your luck!
Talkeetna may have one of Alaska’s best adult playgrounds, as it hosts mountain climbers and adventurers from all over the world, but that doesn’t mean kids don’t fit in, too. A group of mothers got together in 2008 and built this playground, worthy of a frontier town. Constructed from rough-hewn timbers, the play area incorporates mazes, cabins, swings, slides, and even art from local children.
Two trails travel over the Mat-Su College lands; one from the college and one from Snodgrass Hall. The Mat-Su College trailhead leads to a hilly loop and opens to beautiful views of Lazy Mountain, Twin Peaks, Bodenburge Butte, and Knik Glacier — the best mountain views in the entire greenbelt system. There are signs indicating what you see in the distance, as well as benches in a few areas. (Be prepared for construction as the college grows… ...more
At the Government Peak Recreation area you will find an extensive trail system for nordic skiing, walking, hiking, fat tire biking, and mountain biking. The newest addition is a Chalet that is available to warm winter visitors. It’s also available for rent.
This is a short day hike, but a fantastic fishing spot. There are many lake trout, grayling and whitefish. It is one of the best fishing spots in the area. Fox, bear, moose and caribou are often seen in this area and there are good berrypicking opportunities along the trail.
This trail follows Troublesome Creek .3 miles down to where it enters the broad, glacial gravel bar of the Chulitan River. Marvel at the Ent-like Grandaddy Cottonwood, just five minutes down the trail. The trail’s end has been swept away by floods, so it can be confusing, but the adventurous can keep going onto the Chulitna’s gravel bar to look for wildlife, tracks, or views of Denali. The large-leaved plants along the trail are Cow Parsnip and ...more
Part of the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, this trail meanders through tidal flats and wetlands. Highlights are great views of the mountains surrounding Palmer (Pioneer Peak, the Chugach and Talkeetna ranges) and excellent bird watching.
This is one of four trails that lead to the high Kesugi Ridge along the Parks Highway about an hour north of Talkeetna. The trail begins in a forested area and ends up above the tree line looking down on muliple drainages. The view at the top is wonderful, so bring a camera! It takes about 2 hours on average to get above treeline.
A winter trail system consisting of two north-south trails and one east-west route that allow snowmachiners, dog mushers and skiers to travel the area lying north of Petersville Road and west of the Parks Highway. The combined mileage of the trails is over 50 miles.
With flat stretches and steep hills (that are groomed in winter), this trail is very popular with mountain bikers, trail runners, and cross-country skiers. It was built on landfill, so as it expands, these trails will change. Most of it is rolling forest that has covered the gravelly moraines left by retreating glaciers.
This trail is the northernmost trail that provides access to Kesugi Ridge. On a clear day, Little Coal Creek Trail takes you to amazing views of Denali (Mt. McKinley). It also gives you those views in the shortest amount of time, about 1.5 hours, of any of the access trails to Kesugi Ridge.
This one-mile trail around Reflections Lake offers easy walking year-round. Come with snowshoes, skis, or ice skates during the winter months, or identify wildflowers and forest birds in summer. Mostly wooded, the trail does open up to views of the surrounding mountains at one end of the lake, where the large forest gives way to smaller trees and grasses. Dawn and dusk here can be stunning, with sunset colors playing across the water and on… ...more
Lion’s Head is famous throughout the state. This rock outcropping is the prominent feature beside the Matanuska Glacier and is featured in magazines and advertisements all over Alaska. And you can hike it! You’ve got to be in good shape and ready for a scrambling, one-hour climb. You’ll be rewarded by great views, looking down a 2,000-foot cliff face to the glacier. You’re panorama will include views of the Matanuska River, Caribou Creek with… ...more
This trail is part of the historic Chickaloon-Knik-Nelchina Trail System and, in the early summer, almost always has Dall sheep birthing low on the mountain sides. There are moose here all the time. Be careful when crossing Boulder Creek.
How to get ThereAccess to the Lake Lucille Park Trail System is located at the north end of Endeavor Road in Wasilla. From Wasilla — go south on the Knik-Goose Bay Road, 2 miles from Wasilla take a right on Endeavor Street and follow it for 1⁄2 mile to the park entrance and parking areas.General DescriptionLake Lucille Park has approximately 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) of trails built around the perimeter of the park and connecting the athletic… ...more
Get a real taste of Talkeetna by walking a full loop around town. Start by strolling along the Susitna River (downstream) until you come to the end of the village airstrip. Then walk up D Street, which will bring you right back to Main Street. It’s a popular route, so in the summer you may well see people camping, while in the winter people come here for snowshoeing, skiing, dog mushing, and snowmachining.
Flathorn Lake Trail is approximately 21 miles long and traverses the vast wetlands of the Susitna Flats Game Refuge and rolling hills of the Fish Creek watershed. The trail allows snowmachiners, dog mushers and skiers to travel from the Point MacKenzie area to the ‘Susitna Station’ on the Susitna River. The trail crosses the Little Susitna River, through a maze of frozen swamps and ponds, along Fish Creek, across Flathorn Lake before heading… ...more
Looking to break up your drive with a jog or bike ride? This little-used, 2‑mile section of the former Glenn Highway has little to no traffic. Rocks and shrubs are creeping onto the road surface in places. It’s quiet, scenic, and hilly. The roadway is officially closed in the middle but easily-passable.
This is the southernmost trail that leads to Kesugi Ridge. On average, it takes a hiker 4 hours to get above the treeline. This trail is often closed due to flooding as well as bear activity for the safety of its hikers. Please check with Alaska’s Department of Natural Resources to make sure that the trail is open to hikers before starting this trip.
Crooked Lake Trail connects the Big Lake area with trails to the west and north. The trail heads west from Papoose Twins Lake Road and connects with the Iron Dog Trail, which then continues on to the Susitna River. The trail is approximately 10 miles long from Papoose Twins Lake Road to the Iron Dog Trail. The trails traverse large swamps and ridges of mixed forest. Crthwest for about 5 miles then turning southwest for 7 ½ miles where it… ...more
Just past Archangel Road, you will see a pullout on the left. In the winter months, this is an extremely popular spot among backcountry skiers and snowboarders. However, this steep, unmaintained freestyle is not recommended for novices. During the summer months the trails are used for mountain biking.
At its peak, the Independence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 workers and 16 families who lived high above tree line. Digging and blasting, these workers recovered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walkways throughout the site, with informational placards for a self-guided tour.
This trail leads to numerous mines in the area. This is a great place to explore old mining sites and get some pictures, as well as gold pan. This is a good day hike and can be long or short depending on what you want to do. Be sure to take the whole family on this one!
This is a wheelchair-accessible trail that is for walkers. This is not a challenging running trail. The trail offers a beautiful panorama of Three sisters, Pioneer Peak, Knik Glacier, Bodenburg Butte, and the Talkeetnas. The observation deck overlooks Okeson Pond.
This amazing trail system was started by miners 50 years ago, and today they are maintained by Sheep Mountain Lodge Sheep Mountain Lodge owner Zack Steer. Zoom down Thriller on your mountain bike, enjoy a picnic with a view at the top of Corkscrew, search for a geocache site or come berry picking in the fall. There are 12 miles of maintained trails, which are groomed for cross-country skiing in winter. Peak blueberry season is from Aug. 15… ...more
2019 UPDATE: Trail, day use area, kayak tours & rentals, and public use cabins are open, but the main campground will be temporarily closed beginning in 2019 due to the danger posed by trees infested with spruce-bark beetles. Rotting trees have been toppling. State parks plans to reopen the campground after the hazardous trees have been removed. This is one of four trails that lead to Kesugi Ridge. From the Denali State Park campground at ...more
A winter trail system consisting of a series of loops that allow dog mushers (and other nonmotorized trail users) to travel 3, 5, 7, 10, 12 or 16 miles depending on the route one takes. The trails traverse large swamps and Black Spruce forests and are generally wide enough for one dog sled (3 – 5’). In some places along the trails the tracks are wide enough for two sleds to pass. The trails must be traveled in a specific direction to avoid… ...more
This is the best way to see the Mat-Su Valley from a bird’s-eye view without getting in an airplane.The trail leads through cottonwood trees until the end of the treeline. Moose, bears, Dall sheep and Ptarmigan are seen along the trail occasionally.
Located north of Wasilla about 45 minutes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all connected with trails, and make for a great day of canoeing. They can also be skied in the winter and campgrounds are available as well. This hike can only be done in winter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.
The Talkeetna Mail Trail and Central Trail are year round, multi-use trails that run north south between Willow Creek and the Kashwitna River. The trails were originally used for hauling mail, but recent logging has opened new access and short dead-end trails leading both east and west. Some of the trail crosses wet areas that are sensitive to heavy use. Plans are underway to harden or relocate portions of the trail to better accommodate year… ...more
Beautiful ponds, waterfalls, and mountain scenery make this a worthwhile hike. Many birds, Arctic Ground Squirrels and even a few ducks can be sighted enroute. The trail ends at Lane Hut at the end of the Valley. Extra exploring opportunities are everywhere!
This is part of the historic Chickaloon-Knik-Nelchina Trail System and travels high to show hikers beautiful sights. It starts in thick forest, but gradually climbs past lakes into wide open spaces. It used to be used to supply gold miners with equipment.
This is part of the Chickaloon-Knik-Nelchina Trail System. The trail then goes to the left about a mile to a high cliff that overlooks Kings River. This trail gives hunters access to game country which keeps the trail free of brush but makes mud holes muddier. The first part of the trail is good for the whole family but gets more difficult as it continues on.
This riverbed trail follows the Knik River towards the Knik River Glacier, with Pioneer Peak looming above. Hike this trail and you’ll understand why Pioneer Peak is called “The Watcher.” Head east towards the Chugach Mountains, meanwhile, and you’ll get a glimpse of the Knik Glacier, glittering 20 miles in the distance.
Stand on the beach at Talkeetna Riverfront Park and you may notice folks fishing on the point across the river. You can get there too. Start by walking up the Talkeetna river and crossing over the massive railroad bridge. Imagine yourself back in the 1920s; Talkeetna was the most populous city in Alaska, and the Railroad commission chose it to be the headquarters for building the rail line between Seward and Anchorage.