If ice skating around frozen channels and ponds inside a wildlife refuge sounds fun, try exploring the wild ice of Potter Marsh along the Seward Highway in South Anchorage. After a hard freeze-up, the marsh morphs from bird-nesting habitat into an intriguing maze, with miles of twisty routes leading to unexpected rinks. Very popular with families.
Potter Marsh is part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Basically, the same network of shallow sloughs, streams and pools that draws up to 130 species of nesting and migrating birds during summer freezes into a giant playground for skaters when the mercury plunges.
Hit the groove
These skate-ways wind in delightful confusion through the brush and grass, veering this way and that, connecting pond-to-pond across acres of wetland. The largest ponds seem to be in the middle of the marsh on the side closest to the mountains. The most extensive networks parallel the road. You can skate in circles, double back, meander for miles. Pioneering your own route is the secret pleasure.
Some people bring hockey gear and knock pucks around. Figure skaters try out pirouettes on the smoother ponds while trekkers simply explore. Several spans close to parking are ideal places to teach kids to skate.