Why Take This Hike
This 2.5-mile, family-friendly trail located an hour’s drive north of Anchorage leads you to a scenic vantage point 1,800 feet up. It also offers more hikes and climbs off its upper end—you could do a short, easy walk to an overlook of Eklutna Lake, or an arduous and dangerous scramble up a 5,000-foot peak. But it may be enough to rest on the bench at the trail’s end, looking out over Twin Peaks Valley and up to the high, rocky Twin Peaks and Goat Peak.
Just before entering the woods at the beginning of this trail, look up toward the peaks above; you’ll have a much more dramatic view of them when you reach the upper end of the trail. Keep this carrot dangling in your mind’s eye as you climb, because the trail itself may at times seem far from unique.
The surrounding cottonwood, birch, and spruce restrict most far-reaching views, but you’ll get a great view about 1 mile up; a gorgeous look down the 8-mile length of Eklutna Lake. Then, after the last switchback, when the trail turns left (north) into the Twin Peaks Valley, the views begin to truly open up, and you’ll enjoy more great views during the last 0.75 miles of the hike.
When you reach the bench at the end of the trail, take a well-deserved rest as you check out the view and think about what’s next. You have a couple options. You could climb East Twin Peak, which towers above, though its steep ramparts and the very serious scramble up a steep gully puts this peak beyond the capabilities of most hikers.
You could also follow the rough trail that drops to the creek below, crosses the creek, and then winds for another mile or so to the saddle that stretches across the skyline some 1,900 feet above. From that saddle you can look out over the entirety of the Palmer-Wasilla Valley, and you could even climb the final 900 feet to the broad summit of Pepper Peak on the right. That’s also a formidable hike.
The more feasible option for most hikers is to climb the trail directly behind the bench. Here, after circling up and around the south ridge of Pepper Peak, you’ll reach an overlook of Eklutna Lake and the massive 6,000- and 7,000-foot peaks rising above its far end (including 8,004-foot Bashful Peak, the highest peak in Chugach State Park). On an autumn day, the entire slope glows bright red in the changing tundra—a dazzling spectacle and a fantastic reward.
Author: Shawn Lyons
Distance: 5 roundtrip, longer options beyond bench miles
Elevation Gain: 1800 feet