Cross Country Skiing Along Chester Creek

Call it Anchorage’s winter recreation freeway.

The Chester Creek multi-use trail system connects city parks and mountain venues in east Anchorage with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along the shore of Knik Arm. The main trunk runs without break some four miles from Goose Lake Park to Westchester Lagoon. Using tunnels and bridges, this fun trail offers an uninterrupted travel corridor for skiers of all ages and ability level across the heart of the city. And it’s lighted all the way! If you are looking for different trails to explore, you should look over the Coastal Trail / Chest Creek trail mileage chart, or for a broader picture here is an over all map showing the Anchorage Trails including Chester Creek.

This main segment—the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail—parallels Chester Creek with a wide and mostly flat route that follows the paved bike trail beneath the snow. It tours through playgrounds, overlooks ponds, opens to spectacular Chugach Mountain views and threads a greenbelt forest that makes you feel far from any urban congestion.

Playground cruising

Plan a fun outing with kids by skiing from a trailhead to a playground and back. (Valley of the Moon Park features a space ship and a unique springy climber.) Or simply explore a segment with views of the iced-up creek with myriad animal tracks crisscrossing the snow. You can check the weather at Merrill Field which is one mile north of the corridor here.

Once enough snow falls, the city parks department grooms the trail with set tracks and a skate lane. But the trail is extremely social—bikers, walkers, commuters, dog walkers all help pack down the snow. New snowfall draws so many skiers that descent classic tracks almost seem to set themselves. This is the place to see the city at play in winter. You can even take a look at an interactive map with real-time grooming updates. The Municiaplity of Anchorage also updates the grooming conditions for Anchorage's parks.

The city’s ski hub

Though very popular with residents of adjacent neighborhoods, the system draws skiers and others from all over the city. Include all its branches, and the system covers more than 13 miles of routes, making it one of the city’s main corridors for human powered travel in winter. It is half way through the cross-city Tour of Anchorage ski race in March, and hosts Fur Rondy and Iditarod sled dog racing.

Go everywhere

Segments east of Goose Lake lead to Russian Jack Springs Park and Cheney Lake, or skirt the Alaska Pacific University campus to cross Tudor Road with connections to the Campbell Creek greenbelt and the foothills of Far North Bicentennial Park. At the west end of Westchester Lagoon are tunnels beneath the Alaska Railroad leading to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail—one leading toward downtown Anchorage and the other running along the coast to Point Woronzof and Kincaid Park.

Getting There

Goose Lake Park Parking
2811 UAA Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
Valley of the Moon Park Parking
610 W. 17th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501
Westchester Lagoon Parking
1824 W. 15th Avenue
Anchorage, AK 99501

There are dozens of spots for public access into the Chester Creek greenbelt system. Check out one of the maps below for the most convenient—you may be able to walk from home!

Three popular access points with free parking:

  • Goose Lake Park. 2811 UAA Drive. Enter on the east side of UAA Drive just south of the intersection with Northern Lights Boulevard and park beside the chalet. Take the trail running north on the opposite side of the parking lot from the lake, then take the bridge over Northern Lights and head west (left) into Tikishla Park.
  • Valley of the Moon Park. 610 W. 17th Avenue. Take Arctic Boulevard north from the Northern Lights-Benson corridor, or take E Street south from downtown. Both turn and merge into 17th Avenue with Valley of the Moon parking halfway down the block. The trail runs east and west along the creek across the park to the south.
  • Westchester Lagoon. 1824 W. 15th Avenue. If traveling north on L Street, turn west on 13th Avenue, enter the neighborhood and work around the block containing Inlet View Elementary School to 15th Avenue and head west. If traveling south on L Street, exit right at the light on 13th Avenue or take the next left at 15th Avenue. If traveling west on 15th Avenue, don’t go all the way to the end. Turn north on L Street, then west on 13th Avenue into the neighborhood.
Driving Directions