Hiking in the Alaska wilderness—with its sometimes loose definition of trails, and the ever-present possibility of bear encounters—can intimidate a lot of travelers. This hiking tour operator, based in Anchorage, loves to take both first-time hikers and veteran explorers into the best scenery of Chugach State Park—a colorful cross-section of Alaska’s wilds, right outside the city.

One-Time First-Timers, Turned Experts

Started in 2013 by a husband and wife team—both experienced guides—Chugach Guide Alaska is run by Ryan and Sudevi, who both have a passion for Alaska and have been guiding travelers for years in both state parks and Denali NP. Ryan relocated here from Montana in the early 2000s, and Sudevi followed a few years later from Germany (after she’d finished her masters in philosophy and religious studies in Belgium). As much as each loved hiking in their respective homes, they knew they’d experienced something unique in Alaska, and now love sharing that with travelers.

The Wilderness Outside Anchorage

In Alaska, after all, you only need to be a few minutes from downtown to find yourself in legitimate wilderness. Chugach State Park (pronounced CHEW-gatch) is America's third largest state park, with nearly a half-million acres surrounded by the Alaska Range, the Wrangell mountains, and Prince William Sound.

Easy Access (and Gear)

With Chugach Guides, you can easily dive in to this huge park, and go in the right directions to find the best views. Talk to Ryan and Sudevi about your schedule, budget or interests—whether that’s seeing birds, getting great photos or even seeing a bore tide—and they can help customize your trip, since they only take up to 5 or 6 people on any given hike.

You can choose from three kinds of hikes:

Short Hikes

You’ll spend about 3 hours (including transportation to and from the hotel), and walk 2-3 miles round trip, with 200-300 feet in elevation

Half-Day Hikes

You’ll spend about 5 hours (including transportation to and from the hotel), and walk 3-4 miles round trip, with 200-1,000 feet in elevation. Hikes tend to explore a ridge, with views of Turnagain Arm, the Tordrillo Mountains or even the Alaska Range with Denali. Or, you can take a longer and flatter hike in Powerline Valley, which gives you mountain views along with chances to see a variety of wildflowers, birds, moose, and even the occasional bear.

All-Day Hikes

These 8 hour trips start early in the morning, but offer the best chance of seeing wildlife, who tend to come out in the mornings. You’ll go about 9 miles round trip, with 1,200-2,000 feet in elevation. You’ll either summit a peak or hike to Hidden Lake.