Photo Credit: Alyeska Resort Downhill Skiing & Winter Activities

Alaska Cross Country Skiing

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Cross Country Skiing

The wood­ed, hilly trails of Hill­side Park loop through the moun­tain foothills between Ser­vice High School and Chugach State Park, offer­ing more than 25 kilo­me­ters of groom­ing. They range from the poten­tial­ly stren­u­ous Spencer Loop with the city’s biggest climb to mild Randy’s Loop close to the sta­di­um by the school. These trails include just about every kind of terrain 

It’s easy to take a grand tour” ski across Anchor­age. Using the city’s 120-mile-plus mul­ti-use trail sys­tem, you can kick-and-glide from the moun­tains to the sea. Start at an urban trail­head noisy with traf­fic and end in a qui­et for­est. Launch from a side­walk below sky­scrap­ers to find a wildlife refuge with a vast ocean view. The city’s exten­sive mul­ti-use trail sys­tem fea­tures dozens of itineraries 

$62+ Half or Full Day

Alyeska Resort is famous for its down­hill ski­ing and snow­board­ing for a rea­son — it’s tru­ly world-class, fea­tur­ing tons of snow, steep moun­tains, and views that stretch on for­ev­er. But there are a ton of oth­er win­ter activ­i­ties that make Alyeska an epi­cen­ter for win­ter adven­ture. Go cross-coun­try ski­ing or snow­shoe­ing on one of the area trails; or head off into the back­coun­try with a guide for some heli- or cat-ski­ing; try a snow­mo­bile excursion;  ...more

The Chester Creek mul­ti-use trail sys­tem con­nects city parks and moun­tain venues in east Anchor­age with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along the shore of Knik Arm. The main trunk runs with­out break some four miles from Goose Lake Park to Westch­ester Lagoon, light­ed all the way. Using tun­nels and bridges, the fun trail offers an unin­ter­rupt­ed trav­el cor­ri­dor for skiers of all ages and abil­i­ty lev­el across the heart of the city. Call it  ...more

It’s like a block of wilder­ness nes­tled with­in the heart of the city. This easy 7.5‑kilometer loop cir­cum­nav­i­gates much of the unde­vel­oped reserves of Alas­ka Pacif­ic Uni­ver­si­ty and Uni­ver­si­ty of Alas­ka Anchor­age — con­nect­ing sev­er­al city parks while serv­ing as a major hub for cross-city ski­ing, snow bik­ing and oth­er activ­i­ties. A trek here can trans­port you deep into an Alas­ka win­ter set­ting with­out ever leav­ing the urban zone. 

Difficulty: Easy

For a chal­leng­ing and com­pact cross coun­try ski area where you’ll find just about every kind of ter­rain, you can’t go wrong at Beach Lake Nordic Ski Trails off South Birch­wood Loop in Chugiak. The 15-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem ranges from easy glid­ing to a sprawl­ing advanced loop with sud­den head­walls that morph into thrilling, high-speed descents. You can make it as chal­leng­ing or as sedate as you like.

For a spec­tac­u­lar ski along Anchorage’s coast with views of ice­bergs, active vol­ca­noes, a salt marsh and the majes­tic white mas­sif of Denali, take a cruise along the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. This mul­ti-use civic gem draws skiers, bik­ers and walk­ers in almost every win­ter con­di­tion. Once the city parks depart­ment starts reg­u­lar groom­ing, it is often the eas­i­est of skis, pop­u­lar with fam­i­lies, with only two sig­nif­i­cant climbs along its  ...more

For a leisure­ly ski along a scenic green­belt that cross­es Mid­town Anchor­age along an eco­log­i­cal­ly rich bot­tom­land, try out the Camp­bell Creek Trail — reach­ing 7.5 miles from the Uni­ver­si­ty Lake area to West Dimond Boule­vard. It’s anoth­er one of the city’s through-the-look­ing-glass” expe­ri­ences where you’ll feel sur­round­ed by a win­try ripar­i­an habi­tat even though you’re often ski­ing a few hun­dred feet from indus­tri­al areas and neigh­bor­hoods. Very  ...more

In the Tal­keet­na Moun­tains between the towns of Wil­low and Palmer, Hatch­er Pass is a local favorite for recre­ation or a scenic dri­ve. Hike in alpine tun­dra dot­ted with wild­flow­ers and ptarmi­gan, ski fresh, deep pow­der, or vis­it Inde­pen­dence Mine His­tor­i­cal State Park.

If you’re seek­ing some fun ski­ing over groomed, forest­ed trails away from crowds, the Coy­ote Trail sys­tem behind Mir­ror Lake Mid­dle School in Chugiak is worth check­ing out. Used most often by mid­dle school ath­letes and the neigh­bor­ing com­mu­ni­ty, the loop fea­tures 5.6 kilo­me­ters easy enough for begin­ners to enjoy and yet chal­leng­ing enough to enter­tain more advanced skiers. 

Whether clas­sic tour­ing through deep woods or dri­ving hard on your skate skis down a race route, you will find every kind of ski­ing inside Anchorage’s largest park. Scores of mul­ti-use trails suit­able for ski­ing criss­cross this vast, 4,000-acre tract, reach­ing from low­land for­est into the foothills of the Chugach Moun­tains. The most pop­u­lar groomed route may be the Tour of Anchor­age Trail. But with at least 65 trails cov­er­ing near­ly 100 miles,  ...more

If you’d like to explore a snow-bound trail sys­tem through a majes­tic rain for­est that gets lit­tle vis­i­ta­tion in win­ter, try out Bird Val­ley in Chugach State Park south of Anchor­age off the Seward High­way. You and the fam­i­ly can stroll, ski, snow­shoe or snow-bike for hours through a serene and almost sur­re­al set­ting of tow­er­ing trees with an occa­sion­al stu­pen­dous view of Pen­guin Peak and Bird Ridge. 

When snow allows, sev­er­al looped ski trails are groomed near Eagle Riv­er High School and along the slope over­look­ing the riv­er canyon. A fun option con­nects trails near the school to a mul­ti-use sec­tion over the snow­bound roads inside the Eagle Riv­er camp­ground of Chugach State Park. This 6‑kilometer sys­tem is a fun way to explore the riv­er cor­ri­dor, with con­nec­tions to exten­sive mul­ti-use routes

Eagle­crest is one of the few com­mu­ni­ty-owned ski areas in the US — and the only one that can boast of being on an island, which gives it the unique perk of hav­ing ski slopes with ocean views. Whether you are a begin­ner look­ing to play in the snow, or a long­time ski­er or board­er, Eagle­crest makes a great all-ages win­ter play­ground. In sum­mer, enjoy hik­ing, moun­tain bik­ing, and berry picking. 

Pas­toral is the word here. This 300-acre park on Anchorage’s near-east side fea­tures groomed paths over the gen­tle fair­ways of a snow-bound golf course. Loops explore a hand­some for­est with bridges over a mean­der­ing spring-fed creek. Most groomed trails are lit or near lights, and are very pop­u­lar with new and younger skiers. Still, you can find plen­ty of hills, plus a more chal­leng­ing clas­sic-style loop in the north-side forest.

Forty min­utes from down­town Anchor­age lies Eagle Riv­er Nature Cen­ter, a gate­way to Chugach State Park and a glacial riv­er val­ley as wild and dra­mat­ic as any in Alas­ka. Enjoy an easy, 3‑mile nature walk on the Albert Loop or trek up-val­ley 5 miles to see plung­ing water­falls and 3,000-foot cliffs. In win­ter, tra­verse the trails on cross-coun­try skis or snowshoes.

Difficulty: Moderate

For one of the loop­i­est and fun Nordic ski areas in the city, try out the trails behind Bartlett High School along the bound­ary of the mil­i­tary base. Hilly, with lots of curves that spring into quick and sud­den climbs, this five-kilo­me­ter-plus sys­tem through a mature for­est packs a lot of ski­ing into a small footprint.

With an aston­ish­ing maze of groomed trails over all kinds of ter­rain — includ­ing 12 to 15 miles equipped with lights for night ski­ing — Kin­caid Park is the region’s pre­mier des­ti­na­tion for cross coun­try ski­ing. The sys­tem ranges from sedate, pas­toral loops suit­able for fam­i­lies on an out­ing to demand­ing expert work­outs with hard climbs and scream­ing descents. This venue has ski­ing for every lev­el of experience. 

Difficulty: Easy

Locat­ed north of Wasil­la about 45 min­utes on the west side of the Parks Hwy. Lakes are all con­nect­ed with trails, and make for a great day of canoe­ing. They can also be skied in the win­ter and camp­grounds are avail­able as well. This hike can only be done in win­ter or the lakes will not be frozen enough to walk on.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

The Idi­tar­od Nation­al His­toric Trail is Alaska’s sole Nation­al His­toric Trail. This net­work of 2,300-mile win­ter trails evolved to con­nect Alaskan Native vil­lages, estab­lished the dog-team mail and sup­ply route dur­ing Alaska’s Gold Rush, and now serves as a vital recre­ation and trav­el link.

Con­nect­ed to Snow­cat Trail and the Nordic Loop, this win­ter trail pass­es through woods and snowy fields, even­tu­al­ly end­ing at Win­ner Creek Gorge. 

The White Moun­tain Nation­al Recre­ation Area has over 200 miles of win­ter trails that are shared by dog mush­ers, ski­iers, ski­jor­ers, and snow machin­ers and sev­er­al cab­ins have been built along the White Moun­tain win­ter trails to pro­vide vis­i­tors with safe­ty and com­fort dur­ing their adventures.

Known to locals as the Divide Ski Area, this trail was built by ded­i­cat­ed com­mu­ni­ty vol­un­teers from the Seward Nordic Ski Club.

Recre­ation­al and com­pet­i­tive cross-coun­try skiers alike are pas­sion­ate about Birch Hill Recre­ation Area; a favorite among locals with its exten­sive and chal­leng­ing trails that are always well-groomed, for both clas­si­cal and skate skiers.

This pub­lic use area rough­ly 2,000 acres is sand­wiched between Sheep Creek, Gold­stream and Bal­laine roads. The area is criss-crossed with dog mush­ing, ski­ing, ski­jor­ing and snow­ma­chine trails. This is also is a pop­u­lar blue­ber­ry-pick­ing spot.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 3 miles

Access the trails from the end of Alberg Loop. The trails are mod­er­ate to dif­fi­cult for ski­ing and should be skied coun­ter­clock­wise. These are mul­ti-use trails dur­ing the sum­mer and then tran­si­tion to being Nordic only in the win­ter months.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 12 miles

Part of the Abbott Trail Sys­tem, this is a well-defined access trail that drops before cross­ing the South Fork Camp­bell Creek and inter­sect­ing with the Spencer Loop. (Go left, cycling clockwise.)

Difficulty: Moderate

With flat stretch­es and steep hills (that are groomed in win­ter), this trail is very pop­u­lar with moun­tain bik­ers, trail run­ners, and cross-coun­try skiers. It was built on land­fill, so as it expands, these trails will change. Most of it is rolling for­est that has cov­ered the grav­el­ly moraines left by retreat­ing glaciers.

Chena Lake has two dis­tinct per­son­al­i­ties: The Lake Park and The Riv­er Park. The two parks were cre­at­ed at the same time an earth­fill dam was con­struct­ed by the Army Corps of Engi­neers in response to dev­as­tat­ing Chena Riv­er floods in 1967. The dam is 7.1 miles long and con­trols near­ly 1,500 miles of water­shed that would oth­er­wise freely flow into Fairbanks. 

Difficulty: Easy

At its peak, the Inde­pen­dence hard-rock gold mine was home to 206 work­ers and 16 fam­i­lies who lived high above tree line. Dig­ging and blast­ing, these work­ers recov­ered 140,000 ounces of gold before the mine shut down in the wake of World War II. There are 1.5 miles of paved walk­ways through­out the site, with infor­ma­tion­al plac­ards for a self-guid­ed tour. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 4 miles

The Alyeska Mul­ti-Use Path­way is a paved, light­ed mul­ti-use trail that extends from the Seward Hwy to the Hotel Alyeska. The path is pop­u­lar with walk­ers and run­ners, and with a fresh batch of snow it becomes a great clas­sic ski trail.

Con­nect­ed to the mul­ti-use trails and Snow­cat Trail, this recent­ly opened loop is a great way to extend your nordic ski­ing experience.

March is the month to get out­side. The days are longer and the weath­er is start­ing to warm, but win­ter still has its icy grip. To avoid going stir crazy or for some good, clean Alaskan win­ter fun, head north to Trap­per Creek for the Cab­in Fever Reliev­er. Held the sec­ond Sat­ur­day in March in this pic­turesque small town (there are great views of Denali), the cel­e­bra­tion includes a pan­cake break­fast, a raf­fle, cross-coun­try ski races, games,  ...more

An annu­al New Year’s Eve tra­di­tion, the Lumi­nary Ski is a free com­mu­ni­ty event on the Divide Ski Trails (at Mile 12 of the Seward High­way). The trails are lit by can­dle­light, and you can walk, snow­shoe, or ski, depend­ing on your pref­er­ence. Hot cocoa, cider, and a camp­fire are provided.

The Raven’s Way Loop is accessed from the Ster­ling High­way. You will see the Trail­head and large park­ing lot. The trail mean­ders through open spruce and muskeg ter­rain and there it is a great chance to see lots of eagles and ravens.

Difficulty: Moderate

This is a mod­er­ate­ly dif­fi­cult 5 mile long trail that begins and ends at the Wick­er­sham Dome Trail­head at Mile 28 Elliot High­way. This trail offers beau­ti­ful views of the Alas­ka Range and Denali (Mt. McKinley).

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail fol­lows the south end of Coop­er Lake and ends at Upper Russ­ian Lakes Cab­in, 13 miles from the win­ter trail­head. There is lit­tle ele­va­tion gain or loss on this forest­ed trail.

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail­head to this route pro­vides access to Bear Moun­tain and Mt. Eklut­na. It leads along an old roadbed that can be steep and mud­dy in sec­tions. The trail also has a few stream cross­ings with­out bridges for the aver­age adventurer.

This is a triathalon event (not race) that takes place in Seward every spring. It begins with a 3km sec­tion at Mile 12 ski area. For this sec­tion par­tic­i­pants can either snow­shoe, use clas­sic skis or skate skis. Next is a 15 km bicy­cle ride to Seward from Mile 12, end­ing with a 6 km run to a spec­i­fied loca­tion on the Water­front Trail for a picnic. 

Most of the loops in the camp­ground are groomed for cross coun­try ski­ing. Start­ing with the main road into the camp­ground and cross the bridge to see beau­ti­ful win­ter views up and down the riv­er. To access the trails, park before the first road clo­sure gate just off of the Seward Highway. 

Bear Lake is a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for cross coun­try ski­ing (both skate and clas­sic), ski­jor­ing, skat­ing, and snow­ma­chin­ing. Groomed entire­ly by vol­un­teers, the trail fol­lows along the perime­ter of the lake and amounts to rough­ly 5 miles.

This is a groomed, mul­ti-use trail that is most­ly flat and makes great snow-shoe­ing and Nordic ski­ing. The trails are wide and have both skate and clas­sic tracks. Access is from the end of Arl­berg Rd where there is park­ing or the park­ing lot near Aspen Moun­tain Rd. It’s also pos­si­ble to link these trails togeth­er with the new 5k Nordic ski trails just north of the Hotel Alyeska. 

Difficulty: Easy

This is the high­est moun­tain close to town. If you tack­le this hike, you’re in for a climb, but a large por­tion of the trail is in the alpine, with beau­ti­ful flow­ers and tun­dra. You’ll be climb­ing 2,400 feet in ele­va­tion in just two miles. Watch for upland birds includ­ing Wil­low and Rock Ptarmi­gan, and Amer­i­can Pipits.

Difficulty: Easy

A win­ter trail sys­tem con­sist­ing of two north-south trails and one east-west route that allow snow­ma­chin­ers, dog mush­ers and skiers to trav­el the area lying north of Petersville Road and west of the Parks High­way. The com­bined mileage of the trails is over 50 miles.

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