Forty minutes from downtown Anchorage lies Eagle River Nature Center, a gateway to Chugach State Park and a glacial river valley as wild and dramatic as any in Alaska. Enjoy an easy, 3-mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-valley 5 miles to see plunging waterfalls and 3,000-foot cliffs.
The Eagle River Nature Center started out as the Paradise Haven Lodge, a popular bar and steakhouse in the '60s and '70s. Driving there was an adventure, as the last two miles of road were often glaciated. Nowadays, the road stays clear and adventure starts at the trailhead.
Eagle River, AK 99577
Take Glenn Highway north from Anchorage. Exit at Hiland Rd./Eagle River Loop Rd just past the truck weigh station. Follow Eagle River Loop Rd. for 2 miles until you reach Eagle River Road (Walmart on the corner). Turn right and continue for 10 miles until you reach the parking lot and log cabin visitor center at the end of the road. There is a parking fee not covered by state parks passes.
Guide To Eagle River Valley
Rarely do two lakes lie within a few feet of each other. Fortunately, the trail to see this geological rarity begins just a 30-minute drive north of Anchorage. From the trailhead for South Fork Eagle River Trail, it’s a gradual 4.8‑mile (one-way) climb up a wide valley, leading to a narrow isthmus between the green waters of Eagle Lake and the blue waters of Symphony Lake.
Short, flat hike to access main braid of Eagle River. Walk is approximately one mile through woods. To the right of the parking lot is a smaller braid of the river that blends into main channel in about 1 mile as well. The river at this point can be floated very easily, but unless you have experience with rapids, recommend you get out at the bridge. Although the bridge is only 5.5 miles from where you put in as the crow flies, the river is… ...more
This trail is less than a mile, and very kid friendly. Two viewing decks offer views looking down the impressive valley, and wildlife is often seen here. Beaver Pond is also part of the show, and salmon spawning can be seen in late August through September. This popular trail is usually packed with walkers, strollers, and the family dog — all easily accommodated. The trail is wheelchair accessible and begins on a wide, slightly downhill path to ...more
Salmon work hard to make their annual appearance at the Eagle River Nature Center’s salmon viewing deck, leaping the abandoned beaver dam, among other obstacles. Over the years, this viewing deck has supported hundreds of photographers capturing moose, bears, eagles, and unparalleled views.
If you don’t mind the 45-minute drive from Anchorage up to the Eagle River Nature Center, where this trail begins, this trail is one of the most scenic easy hikes anywhere near Anchorage. You’ll walk a well-maintained loop that passes through beautiful forest, over a couple nice wooden bridges, past beaver deams, and along the swiftly flowing glacial waters of Eagle River.
The Dew Mound Trail runs parallel to the historic Iditarod Trail. This easy 7.0‑mile loop trail offers three return loop options along the way to shorten the hike, should you decide to head back sooner. The trail passes through a variety of plant communities showcasing tall grasses, shrubs and thickets, and beautiful spans of spruce and birch trees. Large boulder fields and rocky ravines add to the adventure of this hike. Interesting things… ...more
This trail is off of Albert loop and exists to provide access to the River Yurt. It is a trail in the summer or, you can walk on the river in the winter. The Yurt can be rented out most months for 7 days at a time. The trail only increases in elevation by about 15 feet. For thse who wish to hike all day then sleep trailside that night, this is the place for you!
This rustic log cabin nestles into the forest about 1.5 miles up the Iditarod Trail off on a side trail. It has the feel of an old-time Alaskan trapper’s home. Although perched at the edge of hard-core wilderness — deep inside the mountains — this cabin is close to trails maintained by the Nature Center itself, giving families with small children the option of combining short hikes with education. The facilities can also be used as a ...more
If you’d like to spend the night listening to the rush of a wild river, visit this snug yurt overlooking Eagle River with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Located less than two miles form the Nature Center off the Albert Loop Trail, the yurt sleeps up to four, with two on wooden bunks and two on the floor. It features a deck, two chairs and a table, plus a wood stove with firewood stacked in a shed. Eagle River is your water ...more
Want to feel like you’ve ventured deep into the mountains without walking all day? The Rapids Camp Yurt grabs some of the best views in the Eagle River Valley. The yurt and its viewing deck are perched high, giving their inhabitants a feeling they are standing among the peaks around them. In summer, the sound of the river running provides a soothing white noise.
The Yukla Yurt can be used as a first-night stop for people doing the Cross Pass Crossing to Girdwood. It’s also a great base for exploring the valley or for taking a hike on the upper half of the Dew Mound Trail. The area will be quiet: no motorized recreation allowed. This yurt is the furthest from Nature Center, with a more remote feel than Rapids Camp Yurt.
Considered to be one of the best hikes in all of the Chugach Mountains, Crow Pass follows a portion of the original Iditarod Trail, including its highest point. End to end, it’s a 21-mile trail, which most people do in 2 days, but just the first 4 miles will lead you past some breathtaking scenery. Along the way you’ll find glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, wildlife, mine ruins, and berries (in late August and September). Hiking is not ...more
Stands of cottonwoods like this one shelter the Nature Center and help populate the forests of Chugach State Park.
The Classroom Yurt is home to a number of educational and recreational programs, and it sits just a quarter mile from the Eagle River Nature Center, off the Rodak Trail. Accommodating 45 people, it is also a popular rental facility for parties and special events.
Why Take This Hike If after reaching the crest of Crow Pass you want to go farther, hike 3 miles down the far side of Crow Pass. You’ll end up at a bridge over Raven Gorge, with the waters of Raven Creek echoing in the deep, dark recesses below. Though Raven Gorge takes some time to reach — it’s nearly a 7‑mile hike one way — you’ll be on a fine trail with great scenery almost the whole way. The Details The journey to Raven Gorge offers as many… ...more