Hiking up Mt. Alyeska is a challenge, but the reward is great views of Turnagain Arm, the seven “hanging” glaciers of Girdwood Valley, and peaks stretching deep into the Chugach Mountain range.
Below you’ll find our recommended routes to the top; all leave from the Alyeska Hotel (where you’ll find trail maps). While any summer day is good for this hike, try to time your visit around one of the area’s events—you’ll have something extra to look forward to when you come back down. In June, come during the Fiddlehead Music Festival, for great live music, and in August, the Blueberry Festival features great berry picking on the mountain. For winter lovers, the North Face Vertical Challenge is an endurance event where contestants hike up the steep North Face Trail and ride the aerial tram down as many times as possible in 10 hours. The top competitors last year climbed over 20,000 vertical feet! I’m seeing that this happens in Feb, so recommend cutting.
The easiest way to the top takes you up the Chair 7 ski run. When you pass the top of the Chair 7 lift, make a right and follow the slope downhill to the base of the Bear Cub Quad; grab a soup and sandwich at the nearby Bake Shop. Make your way back via any of the gentle slopes the lead up the mountain. After rising a few hundred vertical feet, head left back to Chair 7 and follow the lift back to the hotel.
Like the easy hike, follow Chair 7 up from the hotel. When you get to the top of the lift, keep going straight toward Lower Von Imhof, which leads up the mountain. At this point, you’ll see many trail options. All offer great intermediate hiking except Spoon Line Trail, which is very difficult. Upon reaching the upper tram station, you can choose to hike back or ride the free aerial tramway down.
The North Face Trail is America’s longest contiguous double black diamond ski run: 2.2 miles, climbing 2,000 vertical feet. The steeper terrain offers a great workout opportunity and a way to get better views faster, due to the quicker vertical rise. After taking in the great views up top, you can hike down or ride the free aerial tramway.