Cross Country Skiing Across Anchorage – Grand Tours

It’s easy to take a “grand tour” ski across Anchorage. Using the city’s 120-mile-plus multi-use trail system, you can kick-and-glide from the mountains to the sea. Start at an urban trailhead noisy with traffic and end in a quiet forest. Launch from a sidewalk below skyscrapers on a trek to a frozen wildlife refuge with a vast ocean view.

Whether you’re seeking a fun family outing that links a couple or parks—or you’re after a serious over-distance workout that extends for miles—the city’s extensive multi-use trail system features dozens of itineraries.

A couple of things make such cross-city skiing particularly fun in Anchorage.

  • You might not need to take off your skis! Most of the city’s popular multi-use corridors feature uninterrupted passage across roads and creeks via dedicated bridges, tunnels and underpasses.
  • Lights! Several of the routes—Goose Lake to Westchester Lagoon, for instance—are well lit, making excursions during short winter days or moonless nights more welcoming.
  • The routes often lead to other attractions like playgrounds or groomed ice-skating.

How to do it?

Simple. Check out a ski map and start skiing from the nearest trailhead. Go as far you like and then ski back.

Another popular option for families with young skiers: get someone to drop you off at one point and then do a pick-up at another location.

Three favorite grand tours:

Tour of Anchorage Trail—Service High School to University Lake

The name says it all. This 12-kilometer segment is the backbone of the annual ski marathon of the same name. The whole distance links the Anchorage Hillside with Kincaid Park, with most of the race trail following multi-use trails groomed for skiing. Starting at Service High School leads into an extended downhill stretch, followed by a handsome wooded ski through a wilderness-like park and creek bottomland. You will exit the woods at Martin Luther King Drive. Turn west for a pick-up at the Chuck Albrecht Softball Complex or continue north toward Tudor Road and use the multi-use bridge to University Lake Park.

For inspiration and route finding, here is a page showing Tour of Anchorage details and maps.

Sled Hill to ice rink—Russian Jack Springs Park to Goose Lake

For a quicker jaunt, start at the Russian Jack Chalet’s sledding hill and head southwest on the multi-use trail. It emerges from the park by an apartment complex, then heads through forest to the ski bridge over Northern Lights Boulevard. Goose Lake is about 2 kilometers west on the trail paralleling Northern Lights. An interesting alternative: Ski east and then south until you cross the power line corridor, then keep skiing west (through the wetland, over a hill, across the UAA-Goose Lake multi-use trail) until you intersect the lake.

Midtown to the sea—Goose Lake to Westchester Lagoon.

This classic route tours the city’s most popular greenbelt. It’s lighted—and mostly downhill—all the way. Park at Goose Lake, then head north via the multi-use bridge over Northern Lights Boulevard. At the bottom of the hill, take the west (left) fork. Westchester Lagoon, with ice-skating in season and portals to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, is less than four kilometers away. Stop at the pond about one kilometer in for a stunning view of the Chugach Mountains and a glimpse (maybe) of overwintering ducks. The fabulous Valley of the Moon spaceship playground is about 2.5 kilometers further west.

Getting There

Tour of Anchorage Trail
Service High School
5577 Abbott Rd.
Anchorage, AK 99507
Sled Hill to Ice Rink
1600 Lidia Selkregg Ln.
Anchorage, AK 99504
Midtown to the Sea
2811 UAA Dr.
Anchorage, AK 99508
Driving Directions