Photo Credit: Brent Reynolds

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.

Getting There

32750 Eagle River Rd
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.

Driving Directions

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Guide To Eagle River Valley

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 9 miles Elevation Gain: 850 feet

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.

Difficulty: Easy

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

Difficulty: Easy

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.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

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 creek­side view­ing deck is accessed via the Albert Loop Trail.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

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

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

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!

Difficulty: Easy

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

Difficulty: Easy

This trail is part of the Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter Trail Sys­tem. Bear and moose are often sight­ed along this trail. These trails allow dogs to be on leash­es as you mean­der through the scenic trails of var­i­ous lengths.

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.

Hik­ers on the Crow Pass Trail may stop and take a brac­ing dip in Glac­i­er Lake on a warm sum­mer day. The lake’s posi­tion at the base of Eagle Glac­i­er means there is often ice float­ing in it.

Cab­in is near Crow Pass in the Chugach Moun­tains, 3 miles from the Crow Pass Trail­head and is locat­ed 500 yards East of the Trail at the old cab­in site 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 21 miles Elevation Gain: 3500 feet

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

The Eagle Riv­er ford point is one of the biggest chal­lenges for hik­ers on the Crow Pass Trail. It is advis­able to cross the riv­er ear­ly in the day, before the riv­er ris­es from glacial melt.

One area on the Eagle Riv­er, known as the con­stric­tion point, nev­er freezes, as it is too nar­row and deep.

Ici­cle Creek feels like a dozen foot-numb­ing creeks to hik­ers on the Crow Pass Trail. At the cross­ing point, the creek fans out into mul­ti­ple run­nels that must be ford­ed individually.

Three miles out the Crow Pass Trail from the Nature Cen­ter, Echo Bend is a pop­u­lar put-in spot for pack rafters. Boul­ders make the route espe­cial­ly chal­leng­ing dur­ing low water.

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.

The Cen­ter’s view­ing scope gives vis­i­tors a detailed look at the area’s flo­ra and fau­na. Moun­tain goats are a pop­u­lar sub­ject in the springtime.

Just a few years ago, the beaver view­ing deck over­looked a busy con­struc­tion site. The beavers have since moved fur­ther into the Eagle Riv­er Val­ley, aban­don­ing their dam and lodge.

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

Eagle River Nature Center

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