For a true wilderness experience within Anchorage, explore the 4,000-acre Far North Bicentennial Park. Though the area looks very wild, a few locations near Campbell Creek had substantial development during World War II when the nearby Campbell Airstrip was readied for use by fighter planes.
Now, the area is fully returned to the wild and the stretch of trails along the creek is claimed exclusively by bears each summer when the fish return. (So if you’re running or biking near the creek, heed the warnings and carry bear spray.) The lower parking lot provides access to flat land and easy trails that run along creeks and through birch and spruce scented forest. The upper parking lot leads to more rugged terrain, with world class Nordic ski trails that are great for biking and hiking in the summer. Just 500 yards in from the Hilltop Ski Area, the 4.5-mile Spencer Loop passes near roaring Campbell Creek before climbing along a ridge above a seldom-visited whitewater gorge. Views of Anchorage, the Cook Inlet, and even Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley) from the Spencer Loop are great and well worth the effort to reach.