Some 50 miles north of Anchorage, this 1.5-mile trail makes for a fine family outing. From the picnic table at the uppermost end of the trail, you’ll find a satisfying panoramic view of the Matanuska River and Knik River valleys. It’s a view as good, or better, than that from many summits.
If you only have a limited amount of time in Anchorage but want go out for a great hike, consider Kincaid Bluff Trail. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown Anchorage, this is a 6-mile loop hike to Kincaid Chalet. Along the way, you’ll find 3 miles of rugged trail that skirt the summit of precipitous bluffs at the end of the Anchorage Peninsula.
This trail quickly gains elevation on its way to an alpine meadow framed by the dramatic Twin Peaks and Goat Rock, but climbs to magnificent views overlooking the entire valley. Dall Sheep are often spotted above the timberline. From here there is a spectacular view of the lake below. This is also a good place for berry picking in the fall. Because of the crushed rocks, the trail is hardly ever muddy.
This is a rarely visited group of islands south of Chilkat State Park. Unpredictable winds, huge tides, and strong currents make them a challenging destination to visit. Combined with the lack of any public transportation, these islands remain a near-pristine wilderness left for the serious boater to explore.
The park has a few campsites, but no outhouses. The dock at the park provides public access to Mosquito Lake, which offers great fishing, especially for cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden char. The lake fills with migrating ducks in the spring and fall, and trumpeter swans use the lake as a stopover on their migrations. Up to 80 swans have been seen at one time on the lake. In the winter, locals like to ice fish and cross-country ski on the lake and nearby areas.
Chilkat State Park, seven miles south of Haines, is less visited than Chilkoot Lake, probably because it’s further from town and the road is gravel. But don’t let that stop you. The park is quiet, it’s one of the best local areas to look for moose, and the view of the Rainbow Glacier—a hanging glacier with a huge waterfall dropping from its face—is world-class.
This small campground, less than one mile south of the cruise ship dock in Haines, is for bicyclists and others arriving on foot—no vehicles are allowed to here. Don’t miss the nice overlook in the forest above the campground, with views over the water to the Chilkat Mountains.
Mt. Ballyhoo is a lure for hikers wanting a moderate climb and an outstanding vista. Both the airport and city dock are located right at its base, so the south face of Ballyhoo is the first thing you’ll notice when you get here. Its 1,634-foot-peak is the highest point on Amaknak Island, with a panoramic view that helps orient you to Unalaska/Dutch Harbor geography.
Anvil Rock perches above Nome, an early landmark for gold miners and an easy hike for those who want to take in spectacular views of Nome, the Bering Sea, and the Kigluaik Mountains. Its resemblance to a blacksmith’s anvil generated names for many nearby landscape features, including Anvil Mountain and Anvil Creek. The hike also promises a good chance to see musk oxen, a variety of birds, and maybe even reindeer or red fox.
If your travel group includes a WWII enthusiast, a wildlife devotee, a birder, and a kid who enjoys rolling around on the tundra, Bunker Hill is the perfect spot. Plus, it has the best photo ops, with a 360-degree view of the entire area: Captains Bay, Amaknak Island, Unalaska Bay and Iliuliuk Harbor.
The mild stroll around Strawberry Hill offers great views, wildlife and some historic flavor. Old military roads cover the area, providing easy walking. Adventurers can bushwhack or scramble short distances for better views of the surrounding area or get up close to WWII-era trenches and the remains of old bunkers.
Jutting half a mile into the center of Unalaska Bay, the Dutch Harbor Spit offers a short, sea-level hike for all ages, with beach access, wildlife viewing and birding. The trail follows an old roadbed, which makes for an ideal hiking surface. You’ll want to stop frequently with a ready camera for close-up views of marine mammals on either side of the spit.
The Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve is the site of the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world. Each November, up to 3,600 bald eagles descend upon this 48,000-acre preserve to take advantage of a late-season run of chum salmon. There’s a roadside pull-off at 19-mile Haines Highway with informational displays and a two-mile paved trail along the Chilkat River. Much of the preserve is inaccessible, but in the summer, rafting and jet boat tours are a great way to see more than you would along the road
This is a privately maintained trail, located at Mile 187 on the Glenn Highway. In Glennallen, turn north on Co-op Drive, trailhead and parking area are marked with a sign that says “Aspen Interpretive Trail.” Trail is rated “easy,” allow about 1 hour for 1 mile round-trip. The beginning of this trail has been re-routed. At the trailhead, look for signs to the right, indicating the new route. The trail passes through three distinct ecosystems within the boreal forest. It continues along a well marked dirt and gravel path and loops back to the trailhead.
Take in many dimensions of Unalaska in just an hour on a 2-mile hike around a spot called "Little South America." Watch boats in the harbor, look for whales, spot birds (including puffins nesting in the cliffs), walk the beaches, search tidepools, and talk with locals who are also hiking or enjoying a beach party.
The Agamgik Bay trek is a bit longer than the others, has some difficult spots not easy for the very young or the very old, and offers access to an even longer hike over to English Bay, where Captain Cook arrived in 1778. As a longer, more difficult trail, it is also less frequented, a bonus for those who yearn for a more solitary journey.
Just south of the Chilkat Island is Sullivan Island, and at its southern end, you’ll find Sullivan Island State Marine Park. It has the same accessibility issues as the Chilkat Islands; the easiest way to see these islands is to look for them as you cruise via ferry or cruise ship down the Lynn Canal between Haines and Juneau.