Old Glenn Highway Scenic Drive

To explore the road less traveled, take the Old Glenn Highway to Palmer, a back road that feels like old Alaska. This 19-mile country road cuts through the heart of Alaska’s farmland and is a scenic, quiet alternative between Anchorage and Palmer. The road accesses state parks and recreation areas, petting zoos, and hiking trails and passes through picturesque terrain: pastoral countryside beneath the Chugach Mountains and Pioneer Peak. The area was populated during the Great Depression, when the federal government moved 203 farming families here from the Midwest. Some of those Matanuska Colony Farms are still around today, especially off of Bodenburg Loop Road. You can spend a few hours driving this country road, or make a day of it, with a picnic, hike and farm visit.

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Scenic Drive Points

This unique fish­ery, about 25 miles north of Anchor­age, is com­prised of a small, arti­fi­cial eddy of water that comes down from a pow­er plant and con­nects to the main stem, Knik Riv­er. The glacial-fed water looks murky and blue-gray, and there’s very lit­tle cur­rent. While you won’t find much soli­tude here, you can usu­al­ly find a spot to set up a lawn chair for some lazy fish­ing. There’s abun­dant park­ing, too, as well as restrooms.

With moun­tains over­head and a rush­ing riv­er below that reflects the light in its swirling pat­terns, this bridge makes for a scenic cross­ing. You have to dri­ve the old Glenn High­way to get here, but it’s a nice alter­na­tive to the main Glenn Highway.

On the north side of the Knik Riv­er Bridge, turn off the main road­way and dri­ve down the riverbed.This is a good area to get out and hike around, you can walk beside the glacial­ly-fed Knik Riv­er while under the dom­i­nant peaks of the Chugach Moun­tains and Pio­neer Peak. 

The heart of the Matanus­ka Colony Farms, this loop road trav­els through green pas­tures and cul­ti­vat­ed farm­land, and pass­es the Rein­deer Farm, a pet­ting zoo/​wildlife rehab cen­ter with moose, rein­deer, elk and bison.

Difficulty: Easy

With a length of just 1.5 miles and a sum­mit reach­ing only 874 feet, West Butte Trail on Boden­burg Butte — a 45-minute dri­ve north of Anchor­age — makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. But even if you’re a more expe­ri­enced hik­er, don’t let the butte’s dwarf-like height dis­suade you. This small bump in the cen­ter of a grand allu­vial plain offers far-reach­ing views from its sum­mit; plus, the climb includes a pulse-quick­en­ing 0.25 miles of stairs up the steep  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This is a short day hike, but a fan­tas­tic fish­ing spot. There are many lake trout, grayling and white­fish. It is one of the best fish­ing spots in the area. Fox, bear, moose and cari­bou are often seen in this area and there are good berryp­ick­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties along the trail.

At Mile 11 on the Old Glenn High­way, turn onto Boden­burg Loop Road. Pyrahs Pio­neer Peak U‑Pick Farm sits at mile three of Boden­burg Loop. With up to 35 dif­fer­ent kinds of pro­duce to pick (weath­er depen­dent) this is a great way to get some fresh veg­gies for home. Prices are by the pound, and hours of oper­a­tion vary by sea­son. The first farm in this area was home­stead­ed by John Boden­burg. It remains a rur­al area today, and farm­ing and farm…  ...more

Difficulty: Difficult Elevation Gain: 3000 feet

Why Take This Hike This trail, locat­ed 90 min­utes north of Anchor­age just across the Matanus­ka Riv­er from down­town Palmer, makes no pre­tense about its pur­pose. Almost imme­di­ate­ly after leav­ing the park­ing area, it begins to climb straight up the steep west face of Lazy Moun­tain. For some 2,000 feet, there’s nary a switch­back or respite as the trail winds up to the sum­mit ridge. It’s a tru­ly breath­less work­out. The Details Out of Palmer,…  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

The Matanus­ka Riv­er Park fea­tures almost two miles of fam­i­ly-friend­ly trails just min­utes from down­town Palmer. Trails mean­der between the adja­cent camp­ground and the Matanus­ka Riv­er, rolling gen­tly through old-growth forest.

Season: Year-Round $14 45 min

The folks at this non-prof­it farm out­side Palmer were doing sus­tain­able agri­cul­ture long before it was cool before most peo­ple used such a term. Locat­ed 45 min­utes from Anchor­age, the Musk Ox Farm pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing look at the ani­mal rein­tro­duced to Alas­ka in the 1930s.