Why Take This Hike
By the time you finish this 0.6-mle interpretive trail in Eagle River, you may think you’ve passed through a classroom. The scenic trail, one of many constructed by the staff and volunteers of Eagle River Nature Center, wanders through a variety of landscapes and features informative signs about the flora and fauna that live here. 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 two platforms with views of beaver activity, spawning salmon, and Eagle River Valley. There are interpretive signboards, abundant wildflowers, lush vegetation, and great scenery throughout the hike.
You won’t have a hard time finding the beginning of the Rodak Nature Trail. Some 20 miles north of Anchorage, simply turn onto Eagle River Road in Eagle River and follow it to Eagle River Nature Center. Then follow Crow Pass Trail behind the visitor’s center down a short way to the first trail junction—the beginning and end of Rodak Nature Trail.
Turn right and follow the trail down toward Eagle River. Along the way, you’ll pass numerous interpretive signs explaining the geology, ecology, glaciology, zoology, and botany of the area. Just past the junction with Albert Loop Trail you’ll reach a long deck spanning a braid of the broad Eagle River. Here your view will open up to include the summits of Eagle River Overlook (5,137 feet) and Hurdygurdy Mountain (5,994 feet), rising above the far side of the river.
Come in late summer and you could chance upon the annual salmon run, and maybe even see a bear or two feeding. Off in the wetlands, formed by the engineering wizardry of beavers, you might also see birds coming and going, or moose trundling across the nearby flats.
From the far side of the deck, the trail climbs gently back to another junction with Crow Pass Trail. Turn left and follow that trail back to the visitor center.
If you’ve stopped to read all the information boards and displays along the way, you’ll have learned much. But you won’t have to take a quiz. Instead, just sit and relax on the porch behind the visitor’s center. Have a drink, enjoy a snack, discuss what you’ve seen and learned, and enjoy the view of mountains above.
(For more, see Walk-About Guide to Alaska, Volume Three by Shawn R. Lyons)