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Wildlife Drive can be driven, but the best viewing is clearly on foot. The waterfowl and wildlife of the area are simply more approachable by foot. The scenery is varied, from areas of hardwood and pine to grasslands and cropland to marshes and the banks of the Chattahoochee River. More than 300 species of birds and 40 species of mammals have been spotted here. Trail Surface: Gravel road.The Alagnak, known locally as the Branch River, originates in Kukaklek Lake and flows west-southwest 74 miles before entering the Kvichak River and Kvichak Bay, which then empties into Bristol Bay. The clear, rocky, and swift twin sources of the Alagnak are among Southwest Alaska's most productive sockeye and rainbow trout streams. The Alagnak has several distinctly different sections, in both difficulty and scenery.No other region in North America possesses the mythical aura of Alaska; even the name ? a derivation of Alayeska, an Athabascan word meaning “great land of the west” ? fires the imagination. Few who see this land of gargantuan ice fields, sweeping tundra, glacially excavated valleys, lush rainforests, deep fjords and occasionally smoking volcanoes leave unimpressed. Wildlife may be under threat elsewhere, but here it is abundant, with Kodiak bears standing twelve feet tall, moose stopping traffic in downtown Anchorage, wolves prowling through national parks, bald eagles circling over the trees, and rivers solid with fifty-plus-pound salmon. Alaska’s sheer size is hard to comprehend: more than twice the size of Texas, it contains America’s northernmost, westernmost and, because the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180th meridian, its easternmost point. If superimposed onto the Lower 48 (the rest of the continental United States) it would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and its coastline is longer than the rest of the US combined. All but three of the nation’s twenty highest peaks are found within its boundaries and one glacier alone is twice the size of Wales. A mere 600,000 people live in this huge state ? over forty percent of them in Anchorage ? of whom only one-fifth were born here: as a rule of thumb, the more winters you have endured, the more Alaskan you are. Often referred to as the “Last Frontier,” Alaska in many ways mirrors the American West of the nineteenth century: an endless, undeveloped space in which to stake one’s claim and set up a life without interference. Or at least that’s how Alaskans would like it to be. Traveling around Alaska still demands a spirit of adventure, and to make the most of the state you need to have an enthusiasm for striking out on your own and roughing it a bit. Binoculars are an absolute must, as is bug spray; the mosquito is referred to as the “Alaska state bird” and it takes industrial-strength repellent to keep it away. On top of that there’s the climate, though Alaska is far from the popular misconception of being one big icebox. While winter temperatures of -40°F are commonplace in Fairbanks, the most touristed areas ? the southeast and the Kenai Peninsula ? enjoy a maritime climate (45?65°F in summer) similar to that of the Pacific Northwest, meaning much more rain (in some towns 180-plus inches per year) than snow. Remarkably, the summer temperature in the Interior often reaches 80°F. Alaska is far more expensive than most other states: apart from two dozen hostels there’s little budget accommodation, and eating and drinking will set you back at least twenty percent more than in the Lower 48 (perhaps fifty percent in more remote regions). Still, experiencing Alaska on a low budget is possible, though it requires planning and off-peak travel. From June to August room prices are crazy; May and September, when tariffs are relaxed and the weather only slightly chillier, are just as good times to go, and in April or October you’ll have the place to yourself, albeit with a smaller range of places to stay and eat. Ground transportation, despite the long distances, is reasonable, with backpacker shuttles ferrying budget travelers between major centers. Winter, when hotels drop their prices by as much as half, is becoming an increasingly popular time to visit, particularly for the dazzling aurora borealis. This eTrail is a chapter excerpted from the book "The Rough Guide to USA." It is packed with information on this state including history, getting there and getting around, major cities and regions, and what to do and where to stay when you get there.From headwaters on the southern slopes of Iprugalet Mountain, the Andreafsky River and East Fork Andreafsky River traverse alpine tundra and rolling hills, then forests of spruce, as these clearwater streams flow to join as one river about 5 miles above the village of St. Marys. In contrast to the low topographic relief of the Yukon Delta wetlands, the Andreafsky and the East Fork Andreafsky offer intimate river travel through a broad range of ecosystems. The upper river segments are within designated wilderness in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and both are National Wild and Scenic rivers.Paved highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska; 1,390 miles (2,238 kilometers). The final leg of the Alaska Highway traverses the upper basin of the Tanana River, a region of lake-studded lowlands and distant mountain ranges. Because the United States has not yet converted to the metric system, distances are now expressed in miles, and you should note that the roadside mileposts indicate the distance from Dawson Creek before the route was shortened by straightening out its curves. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.Poking out above the miles thick and miles wide Chena Hot Springs pluton are the uniquely shaped granite and basalt formations of Angel Rocks. Perched on heavenly ledges above the boreal forest, in the wildflower-ridden subalpine zone, the rocks are a dramatic sight. The 3.5-mile Angel Rocks loop is one of the most popular hikes in the Fairbanks area. An additional 8-mile trail leads hikers to the Chena Hot Springs Resort.The spectacularly natural and wooded University of Alaska? Fairbanks campus is home to dozens of interconnecting trails with a mosaic of combinations. Ballaine Lake is a small but well appreciated lake popular with both canines and humans. An easy 1.2-mile loop through rolling hills and airy birch groves begins at the lake trailhead and travels along some of the classic winter ski routes?which are grassy and dry during the summer.The Alatna River has multiple personalities over the course of its 184-mile journey to the Koyukuk River. Rising from clear, cold lakes at the Arctic Divide in the Central Brooks Range, the Alatna flows through the Endicott Mountains, the Helpmejack Hills, and the Alatna Hills in a southeasterly direction to its confluence with the Koyukuk at Kanuti Flats. The river begins in alpine tundra where the scenery is dominated by mountains, including the Arrigetch Peaks, and descends through dense spruce forests to lowland flats dotted with lakes. The upper 25 miles of the river, from headwater lakes, is shallow, rocky, and very fast. At times, it may be too shallow to paddle and will require that you line boats down. The next 15 miles adds sweepers and small rapids, with continued shallow, swift flow. Just above Ram Creek is a short section of Class 11+ to III rapids, which can be lined or portaged. From Circle Lake, near Arrigetch Peaks, the river deepens and mellows, meandering slowly enough to allow you to thoroughly enjoy the scenery. Below Takahula Lake, the river swings into great oxbows through the boreal forest.A short day hike to Angel Rocks, a group of granite walls and towers, or a long day or overnight traverse between Angel Rocks and Chena Hot Springs. The granite Angel Rocks shoot up out of the forest on the hillside above the Chena River, offering plenty of cracks and crevices to explore and good views to enjoy. The area around the rocks is a pleasant scene of granite, aspen, and spruce. It’s a steep, somewhat rough trail, but this is a much easier hike to see a tor landscape than the hike to the Granite Tors. Keep an eye on the kids, though; there are some steep drops here, and the trail that loops through the rocks and back down to the river is steep and rough. Special features: Angel Rocks: granite outcrops, good views, and rock climbing for experienced climbers. Traverse: an alpine ridge run and a trail shelter.Even though Bartlett Cove is the location of park headquarters, the lodge, and a boat mooring area, it is also a popular place for kayaking day trips. The cove generally offers protected paddling and opportunities to see humpback whales. It is also home to a variety of waterfowl. Occasionally black bears and moose are seen along the shore or even in the campground.This easy, flat trail is an excellent hike for the entire family, with amazing scenery, boardwalks, and viewing platforms.Beaver Creek offers an excellent family or novice float and is one of the few road-accessible streams in Alaska designated as a Wild and Scenic River. Originating at the confluence of Bear and Champion creeks in White Mountains National Recreation Area, Beaver Creek is a shallow, moderately swift clearwater stream flowing through rolling hills and the jagged peaks of the White Mountains before slowing and meandering through the Yukon Flats to the Yukon River. The White Mountains form a dramatic backdrop for the first 127 miles.For remote wilderness, solitude, wild weather, and wilder water, a float trip down the Aniakchak is very special. But don't attempt it unless you are an expert paddler, extremely self-reliant in Alaska wilderness camping, and ready for severe weather and self-rescue. Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is one of the least visited national park units in the U.S. Issuing forth from cerulean Surprise Lake in the heart of the Aniakchak Caldera, the Aniakchak is truly a wild river. After 1 quiet mile, the river quickens and plunges through The Gates, a narrow 1,200-foot-high gap in the crater, dropping an average of 70 feet per mile through frothy, rocky Class II, III, and IV turbulence for about 15 miles. Then it slows to Class I and meanders 17 miles to Aniakchak Bay.This is an excellent hike for the entire family. Amazing scenery, boardwalks, viewing platforms, and an easy, flat trail are the main elements of the hike. The trail descends down along the Eagle River and provides outstanding mountain views, wildflowers, lush vegetation, and numerous areas of beaver activity with ample opportunities for spotting wildlife.This easy self-guided nature trail wanders along placid Beaver Slough. Hikers transcend into wilderness a hop, skip, and jump away from family-friendly North Pole and the premier attractions at the Santa Claus House. The easy mile-long trail hosts interpretive signs, an old homestead cabin rendition, and a flower-enriched peace garden. As you wander along the lush slough, keep your eyes peeled for beavers!Beginning in the mountains northwest of lake-dotted Howard Pass, the Aniuk River flows southwesterly for 80 miles to its confluence with the Noatak River. A small clearwater stream spiked with rocky rapids, the Aniuk flows through a broad, sometimes marshy valley, with a gradient of less than 20 feet per mile. The watershed drains a thousand square miles. As an alternate starting point for a trip on the Noatak, the Aniuk traverses a rarely visited region of Noatak National Preserve. Entirely above treeline, the Aniuk begins in alpine hmdra on the south side of the Brooks Range and traverses upland to wetland tundra habitats. Opportunities for observing wildlife are outstanding, as Howard Pass is a major migratory route and the vistas are expansive.Alexander Creek is one of the most popular fishing and hunting rivers in Southcentral Alaska. From its source at Alexander Lake, Alexander Creek flows southeast about 40 miles to meet the Susitna River. The terrain around the lake is flat, and views of the Alaska Range, including Mount McKinley (Denali), are excellent. Alexander Lake Lodge lies on the south end of the lake, and a halfdozen cabins are scattered around the lakeshore. A platform at the southeast end of the lake provides a dry area for inflating rafts. Otherwise, there is little dry ground on public land near the lake's outlet. Three sites are used informally by campers on private lands around the lake. The creek is 1 to 5 feet deep and from 50 to 200 feet wide with an average gradient of 3-5 feet per mile. It meanders through spruce, birch, and cottonwood forest, often between high banks or through willow thickets and tall grasses, so scenic vistas below the lake are generally poor. Motorboats are not allowed from Creek Miles 23 to 38,3 (almost to Alexander Lake) from May 15 to August 20.Behm Canal is the ultimate Ketchikan Area trip. The canal is a natural waterway that surrounds the west, north, and east sides of Revillagigedo Island and includes some of the trips so far described plus many more. It is a trip of between 120 and 150 miles depending on launch and haul-out points. It could probably be done in ten days, but I don’t consider it worth doing unless you have three weeks to really enjoy the adventure and take time to explore at least a few of the many bays and inlets along the way. Sidetrips can add as many as 100 miles. Trip Highlights: Beautiful scenery, hot springs, bears, waterfowl, marine mammals, berry picking, wilderness camping, Misty Fjords, solitude, old-growth forest.The Anvik is a little-known river outside of well-informed sport fishing circles, yet it is one of the most productive tributaries of the Yukon watershed. With few visitors and just a single sport fishing lodge along its entire length, the river offers a great wilderness float, perfect for a fishing family. There is good hiking in its upper reaches, but little hiking lower down, due to the extensive birch and spruce forests. Beginning in the rolling Nulato Hills, the Anvik River flows southerly for 141 miles, joining the Yukon River 1.5 miles below the village of Anvik. A clearwater river in the Middle Yukon region, the river flows through alpine tundra and forested hills as it winds its way down to the Yukon. Typical of south-flowing Yukon Region rivers, the upper river is clear and swift, and the lower river is slow and meandering.Rising from the Schwatka Mountains of the Brooks Range at Nakmaktuak Pass, the Ambler River flows in a southwesterly direction for 80 miles to its confluence with the Kobuk River. Small and clear, the Ambler is a single channel for the first 15 miles from the confluence of two headwater forks, with many small rapids flowing over sharp rocks. The river passes through a narrow, constricted valley with steep mountains on the right bank. In its midsection, the forested valley broadens and the river is shallow and braided for about 35 miles before becoming a single channel once again a mile above Lake Anirak. From this point, the Ambler meanders 30 miles through a broad floodplain to its confluence with the Kobuk at the Eskimo village of Ambler. The Ambler flows almost entirely through a forested region, except for its headwaters. The best hiking opportunities exist near the upper river, a primitive, remote area that is rarely visited.Berners Bay can be considered a destination or a place to kayak. There are several places along Lynn Canal to put in or take out on the way to or from Berners Bay. Take Glacier Highway the 39 miles from downtown Juneau to Berners Bay or to one of the put-in/take-out spots along the way. If you are renting a kayak in Juneau, you can arrange to be dropped off and/or picked up at these locations. Juneau kayakers often take their out-of-town visitors to Berners Bay for a convenient taste of wilderness paddling. Others go there just to get away from home for a while in the summer when the cruise ship sailors take over down-town. Berners Bay seems to have its own weather system; even when it is rainy and blowy in Juneau, it is generally clear and pleasant out near the bay. Berners Bay is open and exposed to the west and south-west, but there is plenty of protected paddling to be had in its upper (northern) part. Southward from the bay along Favorite Channel lies an area referred to as the Channel Islands. It is possible to put in at various harbors here and paddle to Berners Bay or start at the bay and head south. Trip Highlights: In the vicinity of Berners Bay, there are a lot of eagles to watch. At the mouth of Eagle River, they congregate by the dozens. Individual or groups of humpback whales are generally present along Favorite Channel, and it is not unusual to see them bubble-net feeding. On Benjamin Island there is the opportunity to visit a sea lion rookery.A number of half-day, full-day, and overnight trips can be made conveniently from Pelican Harbor. Just paddling along the waterfront and among the small islands in front of the harbor is enjoyable. With a little more time and energy, continue northwest past Pelican’s “suburb” of Sunnyside and visit the Lisianski Inlet Wilderness Lodge. Day trips or overnighters also can be made by paddling southeast to the head of Lisianski Inlet 9 miles away.For the highly skilled paddler, American Creek offers a brief, yet demanding whitewater float through an exceptionally pristine wilderness, as well as some of the best rambow trout and arctic char fishing in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Nestled in a narrow glacial valley among 3,500- to 4,500-foot peaks at the foot of the Aleutian Range lie jeweled alpine lakes that form the headwaters of American Creek Small mountain streams cascade into 3-mile-long Murray Lake, and a small stream about 2 miles long empties into 5-mile-long Hammersly Lake. From these crystal-clear lakes flows the equally transparent American Creek.A designated National Wild and Scenic River accessible by road at both the put-in and take-out, Birch Creek is an attractive float for people who would like a wild-river experience without the expense of flying into a roadless area. This is an exciting family rafting trip for experienced wilderness campers who also have boating experience or for intermediate canoeists and kayakers. From headwater creeks issuing from Mastodon Dome, Birch Creek flows swiftly through upland plateaus, forested valleys, rolling hills, and low mountains. Nearing the marshy lowlands of Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the river slows and meanders. It joins the Yukon River after flowing for 344 miles.Auke Bay is a good locale for beginning paddlers. It is relatively easy to put in at the boat harbor, and the bay is big enough and sufficiently varied to allow interesting paddling. These are generally protected waters, but if conditions do become unpleasant, it is easy to quit and go home. Under favorable wind and tide conditions, the paddle from Auke Bay to downtown Juneau is an easy day trip through Mendenhall Bar Channel?the shallow upper reaches of Gastineau Channel. Trip Highlights: Spectacular view of Mendenhall Glacier. Opportunity to deal with shallow water paddling in a following current. Lots of eagles.The Inside Passage is an area of land and water that stretches from the U.S.?Canadian border (near Seattle), winding north past Vancouver, Victoria, Ketchikan, and Sitka, and around Admiralty Island to Juneau and the longer inlets of Glacier Bay, Haines, and Skagway. The Gulf of Alaska continues into Prince William Sound to Seward. Because much of this region is roadless, one of the easiest ways for families to see this spectacular terrain of fingerlike fjords, islands, glaciers, and coves is to book an Inside Passage or a Gulf of Alaska cruise. When cruise ships embark from Anchorage, they really leave from Seward, 127 miles south (two and a half to three hours by car). If you can, allow pre- or post-cruise time to see the sites and to enjoy the drive along the Anchorage?Seward Highway. Weather in Anchorage is uncommonly mild for Alaska due to the warm sea current. In summer, temperatures generally hover between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with sunlight stretching nineteen hours. The term "Anchorage Bowl" refers to the orientation of the city: The Chugach Mountains curve around the city on the east, and the northwest and southwest are bounded by the Cook Inlet. Mt. McKinley is usually in sight. This eTrail is one complete vacation written with families in mind. It’s loaded with exciting things to do, family-friendly places to lodge and dine, recommended side trips, local sources of information, and detailed travel directions.With its proximity to downtown, the Birch Hill Recreation Area is practically an urban trail system. Pioneered by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, the park famously lures crosscountry skiers during the snowy months. In spring the slopes melt into casual hiking routes. The easy 1.1-mile Blue Loop lightly gains elevation as it circles through the characteristically lofty birch forest.If you’re eager to explore Campbell Creek Valley beyond the Powerline Trail, visit Avalanche Peak. Easily climbed from Powerline Pass, Avalanche’s southern ridge offers a pleasant hike with little scree and no scrambling. The main drawback is the 6-mile approach hike; bike to the pass to save time, or plan for a long day. Also consider camping at Green Lake and summitting the next morning.Bird Creek takes you through some of the most amazing mature spruce forests in Chugach State Park. The tall, mature trees create a shadowed, somewhat spooky atmosphere, which emphasizes the damp forest floor that’s heavily carpeted with mosses and ferns. The trail is very wet and muddy in spring and during wet periods, is often rutted from ATV use, and has one stream crossing; so plan for wet feet.Bird Ridge is an ideal introduction to the rigors and rewards of hiking in Chugach State Park. After a steep ascent to tree line, views of Turnagain Arm and the park’s wild interior come quickly and dramatically. Due to its southern exposure, Bird Ridge emerges early from its winter hibernation, attracting spring hikers while surrounding mountains remain blanketed by snow. Expect to see plenty of other hikers enjoying the sunny evenings.In the foothills above Eagle River is a bare, rounded knob unofficially known as “Baldy.” Less than a mile from Meadow Creek Trailhead, and with slightly more than 1000 feet of elevation to climb, it is a popular day hike with locals of all ability levels. Baldy also marks the beginning of a long, pleasant ridge leading to Blacktail Rocks and beyond. The trail is smooth, the ridge wide, and the views outstanding.Bird Peak, imposing and remote, is the most arduous trip in this book. The highest point in a vast circular drainage, Bird reigns over some of the park’s most rugged terrain. This route takes you through an overgrown trail and across brushy hillsides to a secluded high valley, up jumbled scree slopes, and finally along a rocky summit ridge so precipitous on one side that it makes the entire peak seem cantilevered. Only strong hikers with some routefinding skills should attempt this trip. Although you can make it in very long day, you’re better off camping for a night in the beautiful high valley and tackling the summit pinnacle the next morning.This is the classic spring conditioning hike, snow-free earlier than many other places because of its southern exposure. The earliest spring flowers can be found here too. Take a picnic lunch, climb as high as you like, stretch out on the ground, and enjoy the warm sunshine and rich smell of earth?all while surrounding mountains remain cloaked in white. The hike is steep but worth the effort because of its sweeping view of fjord-like Turnagain Arm.A half-day or long day hike to the crest of Bird Ridge, overlooking Turnagain Arm. The hike up Bird Ridge, the ridge between Indian and Bird Creeks, offers a chance to see the Anchorage area’s first mountain wildflowers of the year; the ridge is steep and south-facing, so the snow melts early in spring. The sweeping views of alpine mountains, green valleys, and shimmering Turnagain Arm from the ridge are about as good as scenery gets. Locals use the Bird Ridge Trail as a tune-up hike early in the year. It’s an extremely steep trail, so consider taking a staff or ski poles, and be ready for sore quads the next day if this is your first hike of the year. If snowfields still linger on the ridge, there is usually a trail of packed snow to follow. The ridge is exposed and usually windy, so even if the weather is good at the trailhead, pack a hat, gloves, and warm and windproof clothing. Special features: A very steep trail; fine views of Turnagain Arm.A long day or overnight trip from Eklutna Lake to an alpine lookout and a high, wild alpine valley. Mountain wildflowers, great views of milky-blue Eklutna Lake and massive Bold Peak, and one of the best panoramas anywhere in Chugach State Park lie only a few miles (well, okay, they’re steep miles) up the Bold Ridge Trail. Special features: Alpine tundra; massive, glacially carved Bold Peak; views of Eklutna Lake and Glacier. Bike rentals for the Eklutna Lakeside Trail are available near the trailhead.This relatively short yet challenging trail to the ridge offers amazing views of Turnagain Arm. The views alone make this hike worth putting on your to-do list. The very steep yet easy-to-follow trail requires some hiking over rock and loose stone and along the sheer, steep edges of the mountainside. The trail passes through a spruce forest and climbs to the alpine tundra above the tree line. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather and for windy conditions.The Bold Ridge Trail is steep and difficult, but it takes you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Chugach State Park. Outstanding views of Eklutna Lake below, Knik Arm, Twin Peaks, Bold Peak, and the Eklutna Glacier make this hike one of the best. The glacial-carved valleys, high ridges, and open tundra, along with the abundance of alpine wildflowers and Arctic ground squirrels, add to the allure and natural beauty of this hike.The Bird Ridge Trail is a relatively short trail to the ridge, yet it is challenging and has amazing views of Turnagain Arm. The views alone make this hike worth putting on your to-do list. The very steep yet easy-to-follow trail requires some hiking over rock and loose stone and along the sheer, steep edges of the mountainside. The trail passes through a spruce forest and climbs to the alpine tundra above the tree line. Be prepared for changes in temperature, weather, and windy conditions.A long, steep day hike in the Wrangell Mountains to Bonanza Ridge and the remains of the Bonanza Mine. The Bonanza hike leads high into the Wrangell Mountains to the Bonanza Mine, one of the four copper mines that fed the ore concentration mill in Kennecott during the town’s heyday. Just above the remains of the mine, Bonanza Ridge (about 6,000 feet elevation) is a fine place for gaping at rugged peaks and ridges marching off into the distance and for checking out the striking blue-green rock outcrops that made Bonanza Ridge one of North America’s richest copper deposits. First, the big picture: Kennecott company miners dug out the high-grade copper ore of Bonanza Ridge at four mines: the Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, and Erie Mines. Cable cars carried the ore off the ridge and into the valley, where workers processed it in the Kennecott mill. Then the ore went into rail cars for a trip down the Copper River and Northwestern Railway to the port at Cordova. From Cordova, ships carried it to the Lower 48 for smelting and sale. The trail runs along the old wagon road to the mine, more or less following the route of the cable tramway for the ore cars, but with many curves and switchbacks to lessen the grade for the wagons and now, conveniently, for you, the hiker. Special features: Alpine scenery, geology, mining history.From its origins on the Porrupine River Flats of the Yukon Territory, the Black River flows 255 miles through rolling and lowland forests of spruce, hardwoods, and willow, joining the Porrupine River about 16 miles northwest of Fort Yukon. little topographic relief presents itself, though the river has rut an ancient swath through the Yukon Flats, with munerous bluffs and high banks. The upper river flows at a moderate pace (3 to 4 miles per hour); below Salmon Fork, it slows, widens, and meanders through high bluffs. Below Chalkyitsik, the river widens and slows even more, and high banks limit the view of the surrounding forest. Overall, the river is confined and somewhat unchanging in terms of topography and vegetation. Remains of old cabins exist along the river, particularly up the shallow slough to the site of Old Salmon Village. Rich in wildlife prized for their fur, the Black River region is known as "the cradle of the lynx."The Boreal Forest Trail travels along boardwalks and dirt paths through the thick boreal forest. The more exposed Seasonal Wetland Trail travels past the largest wetlands on the property. Both easy trails have wheelchair accessible options.The butte’s dry conditions, perhaps coupled with enough height to stand above a late glacial advance without being overtopped, give the butte unique vegetation for the area. Sage is most obvious. There are also Serviceberries and tiny, quite rare flowers called Draba caesia. It is also one of few areas in southcental Alaska with grasshoppers. Kids will love chasing them.Rising in glaciers of the Chugach Mountains, the Bremner River flows westerly for 64 miles through a coastal trough that separates the Canadian border ranges and the Pacific mountain system (the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains). The Brenmer traverses a vast, rugged wilderness of glaciated peaks and swift, turbid rivers. These barriers are formidable to the would-be explorer. The area is primitive, revealing little of its past human history, and few have penetrated it. Vegetation is influenced by both the Interior and the coast, so there is a mixture of alpine tundra, coastal forests of Sitka spruce and hemlock, and dense alder thickets. The hiking can be very dllficult below the alpine zone, unless you have an affmity for alder.Bold Peak dominates the Eklutna Lake skyline, rising more than 6500 feet from Eklutna’s shores in an explosion of steep rock walls and scree. However, this peak is easier to climb than it looks. Although the cliffs along Bold’s lakeside face prevent a frontal assault, you can sneak up on the mountain when it is not looking: a long, hidden gully winds leisurely up the mountain’s backside. This gully, tucked so deep into the mountain that it practically swallows you, makes for a unique Chugach climb. It’s 12 miles from the Eklutna Lake parking lot to the base of this gully, so only the fastest hikers (even with the aid of a bicycle) will want to attempt a 1-day ascent. Plan instead on staying overnight at one of the Lakeside Trail campgrounds or at the Serenity Falls hut and devoting 2 days to this outing. Bold Peak is not for everyone: it’s a long climb that involves routefinding, some difficult scrambling, and plenty of tiring scree, but also pleasant hiking and unbeatable views.A half-day or overnight hike on a loop trail around a forested lake in Denali State Park. The trail is near campground-style civilization, but it’s wilder than you might imagine. Look for nesting swans and their young (called cygnets) and the beavers that have set up housekeeping near the lake. You can pick blueberries and cranberries in season, enjoy wildflowers like wild iris, dogwood, twinflower, and spirea, and lounge on the lake’s small sand beaches when the water level is lower. By mid-August the pungent smell of highbush cranberries, Southcentral Alaska’s musky odor of fall, is in the air. Check out the bridges on the trail: a long, springy suspension bridge over the inlet stream and a massive gabion-piling bridge over the outlet stream. Special features: Wildlife, backcountry campsites, fishing, fee cabins; adjacent to road-accessible Byers Lake Campground.The hike to Bold Peak valley, good all summer, is an unsurpassed September outing when Bold Peak is topped with white, the alpine valley is carpeted in red, the lower hillsides are sheathed in gold, and Eklutna Lake shines far below. Look for marmots, ground squirrels, hawks, magpies, and ptarmigan. In season, you will find beautiful wildflowers, high-bush cranberries, and blueberries. If you are lucky, you may see moose, Dall sheep, or bears.A short day hike to a view of a mountain glacier near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. Portage Valley is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Alaska, but don’t let that scare you away. The valley’s blue ice and glacial scenery is outstanding, and many visitors simply stop at the Begich,Boggs Visitor Center, enjoy the surroundings a bit, and leave for the next attraction. If you stick around for a short hike to Byron Glacier, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to bring rain gear along, however, in case the valley’s frequent, pelting rains strike while you’re on the trail. Special features: A mountain glacier and a permanent snowfield.Climbing through mixed forests and idyllic alpine meadows, the Bold Ridge Trail is hard to beat for scenery both above and below treeline. The trail follows an abandoned roadbed through a canopy of birch and alder to treeline, then enters a large cirque at the base of Bold Peak’s striking north face. A short climb up the tundra to Bold Ridge rewards you with an expansive view of Eklutna Lake, distant Knik Arm, and Eklutna Glacier.This wide gravel trail is a delightful walk for families with small children, for Aunt Minnie, and for spry great-grandfather. An easy hike with no climbing, the trip is exciting for those who have never seen rugged mountain and glacier terrain up close. Bring a picnic lunch and relax in the heart of snow-and-ice country.Caines Head, with an abandoned World War II army fort and exquisite bay views framed by coastal rainforest, offers a blend of historical curiosity and natural wonder. The area has great beaches, rock outcrops, and soaring coastal cliffs. The main access trail is not a trail at all but a beach walk that appears only at low tide. A fantastic side trail leads to alpine country. Look for a variety of seabirds, shorebirds, and songbirds en route, along with bald eagles, black bears, and spawning salmon. If the tides are wrong the only time you can go, consider launching a sea kayak and exploring this area from the water.An overnight hike along the Resurrection Bay coastline to Caines Head, in Caines Head State Recreation Area. This hike along the coastline of Resurrection Bay offers ocean wildlife, coastal scenery, fishing, history, cabins, and camping. Caines Head is the site of Fort McGilvray, a military garrison built to protect Seward’s harbor during World War II, and the state recreation area it anchors also features fee cabins at Callisto Canyon and Derby Cove, backcountry camping areas at Tonsina Creek and North Beach, a side trail into alpine country below Callisto Peak, and a trail to the more remote South Beach. Harbor seals, Steller sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and humpback whales cruise the coast, and the seabird population includes pigeon guillemots, cormorants, murrelets, scoters, oystercatchers, and harlequin ducks. Don’t forget the rain gear; the Gulf of Alaska coast is notoriously wet. Special features: Coastal scenery and wildlife, World War II?era Fort McGilvray, two fee cabins, beach walking, and surf fishing. The beach section of the hike, 2.5 miles long, is passable only at a tide of 4 feet or lower.A botany lover’s delight, this easy loop trail is located on the campus of University of Alaska?Fairbanks on a knoll above the extensive Georgeson Botanical Garden. The Calypso Orchid Nature Trail is known for a spectacular spring orchid bloom, when the rare and delicate flowers shoot from the mossy forest floor. Allow plenty of time to read the interpretive signs at any time of year.High in Clear Creek Valley, a remote glacier sits atop bare cliffs, spilling ice and water down hundreds of feet. Few animals and even fewer humans ever see it, as most eschew this rugged valley in favor of more gentle terrain. Like many of the park’s hidden corners, Clear Creek Valley remains largely untouched. But you can easily explore this valley on a day hike from Girdwood, or as side trip from the Historic Iditarod Trail. Make a short trip to the glacier, or press on to Steamroller Pass, a high saddle dividing the Raven Creek and Bird Creek watersheds. From there, follow a ridge to Camp Robber Peak, or descend to the diminutive Archangel Lakes. In either case, expect rugged terrain and solitude.Beginning in low Mountains of eastern Alaska, the Chena is a subarctic clearwater river that flows westerly for 141 miles to its confluence with the Tanana River near Fairbanks. Draining about 1,980 square miles, the Chena ruts through forested Mountains and hills and traverses muskeg and scrub thickets. The upper 100 miles of the river are generally clear, though this has not always been the case. The Chena is typical of many Alaskan subarctic rivers that in the past were polluted by gold mining activities, which have now been drastically curtailed. Unfortunately, the lower reaches of the river, particularly the lower 30 miles, are polluted by domestic and industrial wastes from Fairbanks. Still, boaters in Fairbanks love the accessibility of the Chena, which is the most popular and intensely utilized sport-fishing river in Interior Alaska.A free-flowing stream in the heart of Alaska's largest city, Campbell Creek is a resource to treasure and protect. Many Anchorage paddlers use the creek for early season paddling practice; others enjoy the quiet paddling amidst a protected greenbelt in the city.Campbell Creek forms in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, flowing west through the wetlands of Campbell Tract, the last large undeveloped piece of land within the Municipality of Anchorage. A small stream with a width of 7 to 12 feet, Campbell Creek is normally only 7 to 12 inches deep. Early in the season, swollen with snowmelt, the creek may be up to 3 feet deep, exceeding its banks and making sweepers even more hazardous than later in the summer. The creek meanders through a residential, office, and industrial area of South Anchorage. Campbell Lake is a great place to canoe or kayak and is a safe location to practice paddling techniques before you head out for a wilderness adventure.This bike path pumps through the golden heart of Fairbanks showcasing downtown’s main attractions and the lovely Chena River. The portion described stretches from Pioneer Park through Golden Heart Plaza past the World War II memorial to the cusp of Fort Wainwright. The route is level, paved, and popular year-round for recreation and commuting.Chilkoot Trail leads north from the trailhead, sometimes on level ground and sometimes climbing sharply to skirt river cliffs. Take the trail north to Finnegan’s Point, Canyon City, and return. There are no other trails or trail junctions to cause confusion.The Campbell Creek Trail stretches from south Anchorage near Minnesota Drive and Dimond Boulevard and heads northeast toward Tudor Road. This popular multipurpose trail follows the scenic Campbell Creek, making it an excellent year-round recreational trail for fishing, picnicking, kids, families, hikers, bicycling, dog walkers, and winter skiers. Numerous access points along the entire trail make it easily accessible from many Anchorage neighborhoods. Campbell Creek is an important watershed and provides excellent salmon viewing, wildlife habitat, and natural flood control.A 2-to-3-day trip to China Poot Lake, Poot Peak, and Moose Valley in Kachemak Bay State Park. The dock at the head of Halibut Cove Lagoon may be busy with boaters and salmon anglers in midsummer, but decent solitude is just up the trail. Since the tides control when you can get in and out, you might as well relax and stay awhile, at least overnight?and two or three nights is even better. There’s a fee cabin at China Poot Lake and good backcountry camping at the lake, on Moose Valley Creek, and in the subalpine country of Garden Lakes south of Poot Peak. You could also opt to dayhike the trails, overnighting in one of the three fee cabins at the head of the lagoon or camping in the camping area near the West Cabin. Special features: A lake, alpine scenery, fishing, fee cabins, good camping. Access is by water taxi from Homer.Chena Lakes Recreation Area is a bustling weekend destination just twenty minutes from Fairbanks. Despite the crowds, the Chena River Nature Trail is something of an unspoiled gem tucked away in a forested corner of the park. Accompanied by an excellent interpretive guide, nature lovers will experience a great day hike on this older earthy trail passing through a variety of phases of boreal forest succession.Conveniently located within Anchorage, the Campbell Tract Loop fits into most any schedule. An easy hike for the entire family, the level and well-maintained trail passes through prime wildlife habitat and along scenic Campbell Creek. It also passes the Campbell Creek Science Center, an outdoor education center that’s visited by thousands of Anchorage school children each year.Boaters with good intermediate paddling skills and wilderness survival skills will find the Chitina to be an excellent wilderness trip in the heart of the nation's largest national park-- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, encompassing more than 13 million acres. Born in the St. Elias Mountains where four glaciers meet at the Canadian border, 100 miles northwest of Yakutat, these glaciers flow about 30 miles to become the terminus of the Chitina Glacier. The Chitina River begins at 2,000 feet and flows 112 miles in a profusely braided manner past spectacular mountain scenery, carving its way through a glacial valley with peaks rising more than 16,000 feet, before emptying into the Copper River. The Chitina Valley is a rift separating the Wrangell Mountains from the St Elias Mountains. One of the scenic highlights is floating past MacColl Ridge, where waterfalls cascade from steep cliffs of multicolored rock, carving deep ravines through bedrock to expose rich strata of geologic history. Hiking is excellent in the upper river, especially in the desertlike terrain surrounding the Chitina Glacier, where the river first emerges.Originating in the azure waters of Twin Lakes and surrounded by peaks in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, the Chilikadrotna races west 60 miles through forested hills in western Alaska to its confluence with the Mulchatna River. At the outlet of Lower Twin Lake lie scattered boulders and some whitewater. The first 8 miles of the river are Class I to II, followed by 31 miles of continuous Class II with one Class III rapid. The riverbed is narrow and winding, and races through a forested valley where sweepers, boulders, rocky rapids, and shallows are a constant threat. On one stretch the river drops 50 feet in less than a mile. About halfway through this section, a Class III rapid appears (about 5 miles below the little Mulchatna River). Below here, the rapids subside and the river glides through lowland forest The last 21 miles are Class I to the Mulchatna River, which is also Class I.Cantata Peak, one of the more imposing mountains in Chugach State Park, is not an easy climb. It involves a long approach hike, some difficult scrambling, and extensive routefinding. For competent and experienced Chugach scramblers, though, it’s a rewarding trip. Cantata can be climbed in a day from South Fork Trailhead, though routefinding challenges on the upper mountain make it sensible to start early. Most hikers will prefer to camp near Eagle Lake and devote 2 days to the climb.The three forks of the Chulitna River have their origins in the southern slopes of the Alaska Range in the vicinity of Broad Pass. The East Fork Chulitna River begins as a small clearwater stream at the edge of the Mountains near Denali National Park. Swift and rocky in its upper reaches, it is usually so clear that you can see salmon and arctic grayling swimming below the surface. The Middle Fork, too, is swift and clear. These two tributaries offer outstanding whitewater runs. The Middle Fork is a slightly longer run (by 7 miles) and is generally more technical; count on it being shallow, rocky, and full of wood. Be prepared to lift your boat over riverwide sweepers on both the Middle and East forks.In the Chilkat Inlet area there are a variety of paddling destinations in a very scenic setting of forests and glaciers and snowy peaks in the background. Along shore there is the possibility of seeing bears. Eagles and waterfowl are always present. Whales, seals, and porpoises are often present in the inlet.A half-day, long day, or overnight hike to a high valley and alpine ridges in the Mentasta Mountains. A relatively simple hike on an old all-terrain-vehicle track, the Caribou Creek Trail leads into alpine country about as painlessly as possible, and from there the choices are yours.The rugged, high valley above the end of the trail invites exploration, and a few steep but nontechnical routes lead up the ridges on either side of the creek. You can also hike all the way to the summit ridge of the Mentasta Mountains, at the head of the drainage. The view is spectacular from the divide, particularly to the east toward Noyes Mountain, and the ridge rambling is fine, if steep in places, for several miles east and west along the ridgeline. Special features: A relatively easy trip into alpine country; fantastic views on the high ridges.Clover Passage, 15 miles northwest of Ketchikan, is a nice area for a variety of day trips or longer kayak-camping excursions. Even on breezy days you can usually find protected water in the lee of the numerous islands within the Passage. Marbled murrelets, scoters, and in late spring, Barrow’s goldeneyes are found here in great abundance. I have seen black bears along the shore, and eagles and ravens are always present. Harbor seals typically haul out on the rocky islets behind Hump and Betton Islands. Naha Bay at the northeast end of Clover Passage contains the old cannery town of Loring and scenic Roosevelt Lagoon with its well-maintained hiking trails.This is a fascinating trip into Chilkoot Inlet and upper Lynn Canal. It is wilderness kayaking on seldom-visited islands. It offers remote camping with incredible scenic views of the Chilkat Range and the Coast Mountains. The Chilkat Islands extend south from Seduction Point on Chilkat Peninsula and include Talsani, Anyaka, Shikosi, Katagun Islands, and Eldred Rock. Trip Highlights: Wildlife viewing, unique wilderness island camping, and excellent mountain scenery.For the advanced rafter, canoeist, or kayaker, the Charley offers many miles of whitewater challenges in a remote, seldom-visited wilderness. Known for its exceptional clarity, the Charley rises in the Tanana Hills, flowing from headwaters about 4,000 feet above sea level and descending at an average gradient of 31 feet per mile to meet the Yukon at 700 feet above sea level. With an average current of 4 to 6 miles per hour, the Charley is never dull over the course of its 88 miles and is considered to be Interior Alaska's premier whitewater river. During high water, usually late May to July, the upper two-thirds of the river is lively and challenging. High water ocrurs at breakup and during rainstorms. Water levels rise dramatically within hours. At low water levels, exposed gravel bars and boulders require vigilant maneuvering and scouting as you thread through whitewater rapids.The Colville is the largest river draining the Arctic Slope of the Brooks Range and is one of the most remote rivers in Alaska. It flows east out of the western end of the Brooks Range, then bends north to Harrison Bay on the Beaufort Sea 428 miles later, draining an area of 24,000 square miles. For about 300 miles, the river traverses treeless arctic foothills and ridges. The lower river meanders over the treeless arctic coastal plain, a vast expanse of wet tundra, winding streams, and thousands of lakes, imparting a stunning sense of wide-open space. High cliffs along the river provide excellent habitat for raptors, and the Colville is one of the most productive peregrine falcon areas in Alaska. The lower Colville (the delta) continues to be a traditional fishing area for residents of Nuiqsut and Umiat.In settled weather, partial and full-day trips can be made spontaneously in this area, launching from Chilkat State Park or from Portage Cove in Haines. Overnight and longer adventures can also be planned. Views across and along Chilkoot Inlet are spectacular. Trip Highlights: Scenic views and observation of waterfowl and whales.The Chatanika is a great river for a one-day family outing or a five-to seven-day trip. With headwaters in the rolling hills north of Fairbanks, the Chatanika River flows westsouthwest 128 miles through spruce and birch forests to its confluence with the Tolovana River. A clearwater stream, the Chatanika courses mostly through a mature U-shaped valley, with low hills surrounding the valley and with mountains in the distance. The lower river traverses Minto Flats, an area covered with many small, clear lakes. The Elliott Highway crosses the river at midpoint and the Steese Highway crosses and parallels the upper reaches of the river. State and Bureau of Land Management roadside campgrounds and waysides dot the river. The historic Fairbanks-to-Circle gold trail follows the upper Chatanika, and some cabins may be found along the river near the town of Chatanika. While not a remote wilderness trip, the Chatanika offers an excellent recreational experience, with good wildlife viewing and a bit of gold mining history.Alaska has two Copper Rivers. Glacier-fed, the first carries some steelhead and rainbows in its tributaries, the second is the one everybody raves about. Alright, the first thing you gotta know about the Copper River in Alaska is that there are at least two of them. The closest one to civilization flows into Prince William Sound in a big delta east of Cordova. The other is a much smaller river that drains a trio of lakes in the narrow isthmus that separates Iliamna Lake from the salty waters of Iliamna Bay, at the southwest end of Cook Inlet. The former is more challenging and if you’re making the trek to Alaska by car from the Lower 48, it might just be worthwhile to poke around on that Copper’s tributaries before heading into Anchorage and points west. The far more famous Copper is the object of our attention here?the one down in the Iliamna region. Mack Minnard calls it “a beautiful piece of water with all the attributes of a first-class rainbow river.” He should know. An Alaska Fish and Game biologist, he worked in the drainage for 18 years. Species: Rainbow, Pacific salmon. Angling methods: fly-fishing only.The Chilkat River offers a delightful, swift float through the Chilkat Valley. Glacial in origin, the Chilkat runs silty for much of the year except January through April, when its clear waters sparkle with the movement of Dolly Varden trout. The Chilkat river system drains an area of 958 miles, with tributary rivers coming off glaciers and mountain lakes in British Columbia. The Chilkat itself flows 52 miles to Chilkat Inlet. The Tsirku River, a major tributary, begins in the Takhinsha Mountains and courses 25 miles to meet the Chilkat at the village of Klukwan. Tsirku is the Tlingit name for "big salmon." If Six-mile-long Chilkat Lake feeds into the Tsirku. The Klehini River, beginning as meltwater on Mineral Mountain in British Columbia, flows 42 miles to meet the Chilkat.A 2-to-4-day loop hike on alpine ridges that circle the Angel Creek watershed. A hike for true animals, the Chena Dome Trail loops around the Angel Creek watershed on an alpine ridgeline with views that go on forever. About 3 miles of developed trail lead to the ridgeline from either trailhead, and from there the hike is an alpine route marked with rock cairns and mileage posts. June and July are the flower months on this hike; August is the berry month. Look for migratory birds like plovers and surfbirds nesting on the tundra, and for resident ptarmigan. Stay alert for bears, especially in the wooded saddles where visibility is limited. The trail is open to bicycling and horseback riding but isn’t really suitable for either beyond tree line. Special features: Alpine rambling, great views, and wildflowers.From its headwaters above Meadow Lake, the Copper River begins as a series of lakes (Meadow Lake, Upper Copper Lake, Lower Copper Lake) and flows westerly for 32 miles into Intricate Bay on Iliamna Lake. (This Copper River is not to be confused with the glacier-fed Copper River, described elsewhere in this guide, which flows into the Gulf of Alaska.) Traversing spruce and cottonwood forests, the run from Upper Copper Lake begins with 2 miles of Class III to IV whitewater. Then you paddle across Lower Copper Lake to the outlet, which features 3 miles of Class III whitewater. The water moves swiftly over a boulder-strewn bottom to two waterfalls. The first waterfall drops 15 feet, the second drops 32 feet. Approaching the falls, watch for a tall cutbank on the right, half a mile above the first falls. Just upriver from the falls is a tall cutbank on the left. Take out on the left side of the river before reaching this cutbank and follow a portage trail half a mile to a point below the two falls. From this point, 6 miles of Class II and occasional Class III water leads to 6 miles of Class I to Intricate Bay. Approach sharp bends in the river with caution; they often include whitewater.Chilkoot Lake is Haines’s most unique kayaking venue. Chilkoot Lake almost always offers protected paddling and is an excellent place for inexperienced kayakers to practice. There is camping at Chilkoot Lake State Park near the kayak put-in location. Kayakers will see lots of eagles around the lake, and it is a good place to watch bears during summer when salmon are spawning.The Copper River originates on the north side of the Wrangell Mountains and flows south 287 miles to the Gulf of Alaska, draining an area of more than 24,000 square miles. Thirteen major tributaries contribute to the flow. The drop-in elevation between Copper River headwaters and the ocean is 3,600 feet, or an average of about 12 feet per mile, giving the river a swift current, averaging 7 miles per hour. Though accessible by road from many locations, the Copper offers a wilderness whitewater experience on a high-voltume glacial river through varied magnificent scenery.Three short interpretive trails at Creamer’s Field, a small migratory waterfowl refuge in Fairbanks. Creamer’s Field offers short hikes in the heart of Fairbanks, good migratory-bird viewing in spring and fall, and a chance to explore a sample of the forests and wetlands of Interior Alaska. Creamer’s is a historic dairy that operated until 1966. The Creamer’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the old farmhouse has been renovated as the refuge’s visitor center. In spring and fall Creamer’s attracts great flocks of migratory birds such as geese, ducks, cranes, and plovers, which stop to rest and feed here on their long journeys between their summer and winter grounds. Some of the birds, including a large group of young sandhill cranes, remain on the refuge all summer. The first of the migratory birds, usually Canada geese, arrive in mid-April. The height of the northward spring migration is from mid-April to mid-May, and mid-August to mid- September is the height of the fall migration to the south. There are sometimes as many as 2,000 cranes and 2,000 geese resting and eating at Creamer’s. Special features: Birding, interpretive trails, guided walks, a visitor center, and a piece of Fairbanks history.A 3-to-5-day traverse through the Coast Mountains from Alaska into Canada, following the route of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. An outdoor museum, a beautiful hike, and the only long trail traverse in Southeast Alaska, the Chilkoot Trail attracts hikers from all over the world. The hike is amazingly diverse, taking in coastal and interior forests, a large river, a snowy mountain basin, rocky country above tree line, sparkling alpine streams, and huge lakes. Large numbers of hikers, designated campsites, cooking shelters, and ranger stations make this not exactly a wilderness hike, but there are compensations: a chance to meet hikers from all over the country and the world, and the experience of hiking through a landscape littered with artifacts from the gold rush, for starters. (Please leave all artifacts in place and take only photos for your memories.) If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, do the trip outside the peak season, which most years is from mid-July to mid-August. Special features: Forests, streams, lakes, alpine country, and a hike that’s dripping with history. The north trailhead, Lake Bennett, is not on a road; access is by train or foot. No firearms allowed and pets are strongly discouraged. Canada Customs requires post-hike check-in at Fraser, British Columbia, or Whitehorse, Yukon.Half-day and long day hikes or a 2-to-3-day backpack to subalpine lakes in the Kenai Mountains. Crescent Lake, 6 miles long and 0.5 mile wide, wraps around the rocky alpine peaks of Wrong Mountain, in the shape of a narrow (you guessed it) crescent. It’s brushy and subalpine at the east end, and partially forested with spruce and cottonwood on the south and west sides. Carter Lake is a smaller subalpine lake set in meadows, brush, and scatterings of weather-beaten mountain hemlocks. Special features: Subalpine lake and mountain scenery, fishing, 2 fee cabins.Take a picnic lunch to a blue-green alpine lake at the base of precipitous peaks and spires. The short walk is just right for families with children, but don’t overlook this easy hike to Dogsled Pass as an entrance to outstanding, if more-difficult, wilderness hiking deep into the Talkeetna Mountains.Hidden in a cluster of mountains north of Kenai Lake and south of the Y where the Sterling and Seward Highways split is smile-shaped Crescent Lake. Trails lead to it from each of the highways. Both the Crescent Creek Trail and Carter Lake Trail take hikers to high country right at tree line where open forests and patches of stunted evergreens give way to areas of tundra and grassland. The Crescent Creek Trail leads to the west end of Crescent Lake and is longer, gentler, and drier than the Carter Lake Trail. With more deciduous trees, it makes a glorious September hike through the golds and reds of autumn. The Carter Lake Trail climbs through rocky switchbacks for quicker access to tree line at Carter Lake and a beautiful, sometimes muddy trek across high wildflower meadows to the east end of Crescent Lake. The Crescent Creek Trail is especially good for families with children if they have reservations for overnight use of the U.S. Forest Service cabin at the west end of Crescent Lake. A rowboat goes with the cabin, and fishing for grayling is good. Nine miles of primitive trail connect the two ends of Crescent Lake along the lake’s south side.Improved gravel road from Paxson to Cantwell. This rugged gravel highway connects the Richardson and Parks highways by crossing the high tundra in the heart of the Alaska Range. Before the construction of the Parks Highway in 1971, this road was the only access route to Denali National Park. The scenery along the way rivals that found in the park, without the crowds of tourists and bothersome travel restrictions. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The hike to Crow Pass offers a pleasant day trip into a beautiful mountain wilderness with gold mine relics, glaciers, alpine lakes, and wildflowers. The route follows a dogsled route once traveled by mail carriers, explorers, and prospectors. Experienced hikers can take a 2- or 3-day point-to-point trip on the old Iditarod Trail through Chugach State Park to the Eagle River Nature Center.Mt. McKinley is the highest point in North America at 20,320 feet. The almost-four-mile-high giant was known to the Native Americans of Alaska as Denali ? “The Great One” ? a fitting tribute to one of the world’s best known mountains. But Denali National Park is more than just this single peak. Besides numerous other mountains (some of which are among America’s highest), there are other features rarely or never seen in the Lower 48. Tundra, an arctic landscape, is one, and the underlying permafrost is another. Numerous glaciers, including the largest in the United States, are a part of the Denali scene, as is a diverse wildlife that encompasses about 200 different species. Despite all of these wonders it is, perhaps, the simple vastness of Denali that is most overpowering to the visitor; that, and the wilderness spirit which pervades the mountain and the area around it. So, come share that spirit. This eTrail explains in detail how to tour the park. In addition to a park map the details include driving tours, outdoor recreation, accommodations, campgrounds, dining, and more.A long day or overnight hike to Crow Pass, or a 2-to-4-day traverse over the pass to Eagle River. Glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, and mining ruins add some spice to the hike to Crow Pass, as if it needed any; the pass is the highest point on the historic Iditarod Trail and one of the finest day hikes in Southcentral Alaska. If you’re backpacking, you can continue over the pass to the Eagle River Nature Center on a grand, 24- mile traverse through the Chugach Mountains. Arctic ground squirrels, marmots, and mountain goats inhabit the high country near Crow Pass, and bears, moose, and Dall sheep are frequently spotted too, especially on the Eagle River side of the pass. The Eagle River valley has a significant bear population. Salmonberries and blueberries can be a trail prize for hikers later in summer. The trail is relatively snow-free by late June, though the Crystal Lake basin south of the pass and some of the gullies north of the pass may hold snow well into the summer. The mining history starts even before you reach the trailhead: The Crow Creek and Girdwood Mines, both just off Crow Creek Road, were two of the earliest mining claims in this part of the state. The Monarch Mine, 1.7 miles up the trail, was a lode (vein) mine active from 1909 to 1938. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, hundreds of prospectors heading for other parts of the state on the Iditarod Trail passed the Monarch’s undiscovered vein without knowing it. Special features: An alpine pass, mountain glaciers, mining and Iditarod Trail history, wildlife, and access to off-trail wilderness rambles; one of Southcentral Alaska’s classic alpine traverses.A long day hike or 2-to-4-day backpack up the Devil’s Creek valley to Devil’s Pass and the Resurrection Pass Trail. A gradual climb into high alpine country, the Devil’s Creek Trail follows its namesake valley into the high country near the Resurrection Pass Trail. Special features: Alpine terrain, a fee cabin, and options of longer backpack trips.Wide gravel highway from junction with Elliott Highway to Deadhorse on the North Slope; 414 miles (666 kilometers). The Dalton Highway, known to many Alaskans as “The Haul Road,” is a truly wild and remote stretch of gravel highway that connects Fairbanks with the North Slope oil fields at Prudhoe Bay. It was originally constructed to support the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which follows the highway along its entire length. The road was initially closed to public traffic, but it is now open as far as the oil-drilling center of Deadhorse. The roads through the oil fields and to the shores of the Arctic Ocean remain closed to travelers, but several Deadhorse companies offer bus tours of these attractions. The road begins in the rolling uplands of the Alaskan interior, traverses the remote and rugged Brooks Range, and runs onto the tundra-clad lowland of the Arctic coastal plain. Services are available at the Yukon River, Coldfoot, and Deadhorse. Bring extra gas and two spare tires along for the trip, and be sure that your vehicle is in top running condition before attempting this road. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The Dew Mound Trail runs parallel to the historic Iditarod Trail. This easy 7.0-mile loop trail offers three return loop options along the way to shorten the hike, should you decide to head back sooner. The trail passes through a variety of plant communities showcasing tall grasses, shrubs and thickets, and beautiful spans of spruce and birch trees. Large boulder fields and rocky ravines add to the adventure of this hike. Interesting things to see along the trail include the Rapids Camp Yurt and the river access point, Eagle River, and a chance to see one of the park’s public use log cabins.A half-day or overnight hike up Kowee Creek to Dan Moller Cabin, and off-trail hiking into the high country beyond. The Dan Moller Trail, a boardwalk trail, is a good antidote for the rain-forest claustrophobia that can strike anyone who has been in Southeast too long. The hike follows the course of Kowee Creek, meandering along a string of wet meadows that come alive with wildflowers early in summer. There’s a view of forests and mountains nearly everywhere except for a short stretch or two in the trees, and the trail is close enough to the creek that hikers can hear it singing away on its run to Gastineau Channel. Special features: Meadows, a subalpine basin, a fee cabin, and an off-trail route to the crest of Douglas Island.Short day to overnight hikes to a series of mountain lakes above Skagway. There are two Dewey Lakes, and they are very different places. Lower Dewey Lake lies in the trees 500 feet above downtown Skagway, and the hike is easy if a bit steep. Upper Dewey Lake, in a subalpine basin at 3,097 feet elevation, is a long, very steep haul up the mountain slope above the lower lake. Devil’s Punch Bowl is an icy lake in an alpine cirque a little less than a mile above and south of Upper Dewey Lake. Special features: Lakes, alpine country, and a trail shelter at Upper Dewey Lake.A half-day hike to Deer Mountain, a long day hike to Blue Lake, or a killer day hike/2-to-3-day backpack traverse of alpine ridges across Revilla Island. Popular with both locals and visitors, the Deer Mountain Trail climbs a 3,001-foot peak above Ketchikan with a panoramic view of mountain peaks, forests, islands, and ocean. From there, you can continue to alpine Blue Lake and beyond; the route crosses the island on high ridges to the Silvis Lakes Trailhead on George Inlet. Whatever your destination, this is a good hike for travelers, as the trailhead is a walk of only a mile from downtown Ketchikan. Special features: Mountain scenery, an alpine traverse, trail shelters below Deer Mountain and at Blue Lake. The trailhead is accessible on foot from downtown Ketchikan.Dixie Pass is one of the few backcountry trips in the Wrangell Mountains that can be done without an airplane. It offers the chance for a close-up view of massive, glacier-covered, 14,163-foot Mount Wrangell and of 16,390-foot Mount Blackburn. The hike follows beautiful, crystal-clear Strelna Creek along successively smaller branches until it disappears at its source just below the pass. The countryside is wild, rugged, big, and beautiful, changing from open spruce and willow forest at lower elevations to willow-covered gravel bars somewhat higher, and then becoming alpine tundra below the pass. Watch for bears, moose, Dall sheep, ground squirrels, and ptarmigan. Although the hike is not long, it is not easy. There are no maintained trails. Part of the route has only intermittent animal trails, and the hiker must choose between walking the gravel bars, crossing and recrossing the stream, or following animal trails through thick willow. Map-reading and routefinding skills are necessary to find the pass. Despite this, the trip is popular with Alaska visitors because it is one of the few easily accessible routes in the Wrangell?St. Elias National Park.Rising from tributaries off Granite Mountain (Sawmill Creek; North Fork; Granite River), and upwellings in the Tanana Valley east of the Gerstle River, the Delta Clearwater is the largest spring-fed tributary of the Tanana River. This crystalline gem is 20 miles long and flows into the silty Tanana River a couple dozen miles upstream of the Richardson Highway Bridge. Bordered by dense vegetation, the river provides excellent fish habitat, supporting interior Alaska's largest runs of coho salmon, as well as large populations of arctic grayling. It is a sweet weekend run, and a fly fisher's dream, with a peaceful little state campground and boat ramp at the put-in. A boardwalk located along the river behind the campsites provides opportunities for plant, bird, and wildlife viewing. In the spring or fall, Clearwater State Recreation Site is an excellent place to observe sandhill cranes, swans, geese, and other migratory birds.A 2-to-4-day backpack to a high alpine pass in the Wrangell Mountains. The Dixie Pass hike follows Strelna Creek to its headwaters, climbing to the 5,150- foot alpine pass through alpine meadows and Dall sheep country. The view from the pass is magnificent, taking in the Chugach Mountains and the lower slopes of the Wrangell Mountains to the south, and to the north a cluster of jagged, glacier-carved peaks and the massive rock glacier at the head of Rock Creek, the drainage north of the pass. In good weather you can also see the ice-covered volcanic summits of the Wrangells to the north. Special features: Mountain scenery, Dall sheep, and challenging hiking on a trail/route with multiple stream crossings.The Delta is a small river flowing north out of Lower Tangle Lake through the highly scenic Amphitheater Mountains into the foothills of the Alaska Range. Beginning as a 16-mile string of clearwater lakes, the river flows for 22 miles before becoming cloudy with glacial silt. The scenery changes from open tundra to spruce and aspen forest as the valley widens. Vistas of 13,700-foot Mount Hayes and the rugged peaks and glaciers of the Alaska Range are outstanding. This is a popular float with intermediate boaters because of its road access and its length (it can be done in a three-day weekend). It's also popular with expert boaters because of the challenging whitewater at Black Rapids. Beginning at the boat launch at the Tangle Lakes campground, paddle through four of the Tangle Lakes, which are collected by shallow channels of moving water. During low water levels, lining canoes and rafts may be necessary for short distances.Dundas Bay is a special place that relatively few kayakers visit. Its upper reaches are definitely off the beaten track. It is part of Glacier Bay National Park, but since it lies 18 miles west of Bartlett Cove and only 6.5 miles north of Elfin Cove, it is described here. You are sure to see a lot of sea otters, river otters, black bears, deer, moose, and if you are lucky some wolves here. Ducks and geese are plentiful as well.Five miles up South Fork Eagle River lie silty-green Eagle Lake and its brilliant blue twin, Symphony Lake. These two lakes, one fed by glacial runoff and the other by rain and snowmelt, pose a vivid contrast best seen from a lookout point 900 feet above their shimmering waters. You can reach the lakes on a gentle trail worn by day hikers; a short climb up bare slopes past the trail’s end reaches the lookout. This hike is easily done in a day, but Eagle Lake also makes a good base for exploring more distant reaches of the park.A long day or overnight hike up Eagle River to Eagle Lake, Eagle River Falls, and a view of Eagle Glacier. Overall a pleasant forest hike with a few ups and downs, the trail to Eagle Lake ends with a bang, suddenly opening out on a grand view of Eagle Lake, the wild peaks and waterfalls above it, and Eagle Glacier as it twists its way down the canyon at the head of the lake. Also known as the Amalga Trail, the hike follows the route of what was once a horse tramway and trail leading to the now-vanished mining settlement of Amalga, which had its heyday from about 1905 to 1927. Special features: Eagle Lake and Glacier, a thundering waterfall, a fee cabin on the lake, and a rough, brushy spur route to an overlook of the glacier.Beginning in the Chugach Mountains of Chugach State Park, Eagle River emerges from Eagle Glacier as a cold, turbid, swift glacial stream. In its upper reaches, it is most known to those who traverse from Eagle River Valley over Crow Pass to Girdwood. This icy, knee-to waist-high crossing is forbidding to some but is only a minor inconvenience to the people who run the 28-mile Crow Pass Marathon. This section of the river is not generally accessible to boaters.Alaskan explorer Walter Mendenhall once called Eagle River Valley “a miniature Yosemite,” and every year more than 50,000 visitors find out why. In addition to stunningly sheer valley walls, these visitors find a wealth of gentle, wooded trails and the Eagle River Nature Center. The nature center, funded entirely by public donations and parking fees, offers natural history exhibits and educational programs such as guided nature walks, lectures, and children’s events. On any given day you might take part in a wild mushroom hunt, watch beavers build a dam and king salmon spawn, attend an astronomy program, or learn how to make syrup from birch sap. The nearby trails boast almost as much variety as the nature center itself. Within a few minutes’ walk of the center are a salmon viewing deck, a self-guided geology tour, and the banks of Eagle River. Longer walks lead farther up the valley, where a public-use cabin and two yurts (teepee-like domed tents constructed over wooden platforms and equipped with stoves) are available for nightly rent.This popular trail is utilized year-round by local Alaskans for most every type of outdoor recreational activity. The well-traveled, extremely scenic, and easy-to-follow trail allows for various means of travel. Many people bike this trail or use ATVs (on designated days), allowing them to make the out-and-back trip in one day. If you hike it, you will probably want to make it a two-day trip. The trail follows the Eklutna Lake shoreline for most of the way and then runs along glacial gravel bars. Waterfalls, steep canyon walls, and wildlife such as bears, moose, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and numerous bird species are prominent in the area.A variety of day hikes and backpack trips from the Eagle River Nature Center into the glacially carved Eagle River Valley. Eagle River Valley has so much going for it: miles and miles of hiking trails, a gorgeous, wildlife-rich setting, and the best nature center in Alaska. What more could you ask for? The valley and its trails have a colorful past. The Crow Pass Trail between Eagle River and Girdwood is part of the historic Iditarod Trail, the famous gold-rush-era trail between Seward, Iditarod, and Nome, and this segment crossed the highest summit on the historic trail. Further back in time, the valley lay under a wall of ice 4,000 feet thick at the height of glaciation a few thousand years back; the classic U-shape of the valley and the remnant ice hanging from some of the peaks are hints of its icy past. Moose, black bear, and grizzly frequent the valley, and there is a large Dall sheep population on the high ridges and in the upper reaches of the valley, with a permit-only sheep-hunting season in August and September. And, with as many as fifty species of wildflowers, good mushroom hunting, waterfalls, side canyons to explore, and challenging mountaineering for experienced climbers, there is plenty to keep you busy here. Hiking, scenery, and wildlife are the main events, but the private, nonprofit Eagle River Nature Center has a lot more to offer: natural history exhibits, a small bookstore, trail maps and information, and programs focused on everything from bears, beavers, berries, birds, and butterflies to galaxies, glaciers, and GPS receivers to “hunts” for mushrooms, orchids, and owls. For younger outdoor lovers, the center sponsors school and junior naturalist programs. Special features: A Yosemite-like valley, birding and wildlife watching, a wide variety of trails, an interpretive trail, a fee cabin and yurts, good backcountry camping, and one of Southcentral Alaska’s classic alpine traverses.When it established Chugach State Park in 1970, the Alaska Legislature insisted the new park’s lands and waters remain open to diverse uses. This is certainly the case with Eklutna Lake: in addition to being an outdoor mecca, it generates a substantial share of Anchorage’s electricity and provides the city with 35 million gallons of drinking water each day. Yet Eklutna?a gray-blue arc of a lake surrounded by sharp peaks?remains unspoiled. A typical summer day sees families strolling along the lakeshore, hikers heading for the alpine tundra at East Twin Pass, backpackers setting up tents at two campgrounds along the Lakeside Trail, boaters enjoying calm water along the lake’s 7-mile length, and mountaineers setting off on the demanding 30-mile Whiteout Glacier traverse to Girdwood. Eklutna takes these sundry visitors in stride, with room enough for all. The area’s main thoroughfare is the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, which runs 13 miles from the lake’s western shore to the doorstep of Eklutna Glacier. It provides access to several farther-flung trails, and also makes for a pleasant outing in its own right.This historical gold-rush route once connected the miners of Circle City to the supply post of Fairbanks. Today the rugged trail is accessible at several points along the Steese Highway and creates attractive easy day hikes. Some of the most scenic portions stretch through the high alpine tundra of the Twelvemile Wayside area.A long day trip or 2-to-3-day backpack up a striking river canyon into subalpine and alpine country. The East Fork Eklutna River is a swift glacial stream sandwiched between imposing mountain walls. To the west the cliffs of The Mitre, elevation 6,600 feet, plunge into the valley; to the east Chugach State Park’s highest peaks, topped by Bashful Peak at 8,005 feet, rise more than a vertical mile from the canyon floor. Waterfalls tumble from the heights to meet the river, and Dall sheep and mountain goats range high on the mountain walls. Special features: A vertical-walled valley, hanging valleys and waterfalls, remote alpine country, Dall sheep and mountain goats, and hunting access. Bike rentals for the Eklutna Lakeside Trail are available near the trailhead.Climb a narrow, stream-cut valley, unusual for the Chugach Mountains, from the seaside to an alpine lakeshore. Less well known than other valleys near Anchorage, the Falls Creek valley leads quickly to alpine country, nicely framed views of Cook Inlet, and impressive rock outcrops and cliffs that rise above the lake.This popular trail is utilized year-round by local Alaskans, with most every type of outdoor recreational activity available and extraordinary foliage colors in the fall. It is well traveled, extremely scenic, and allows for various means of travel.This small trail branches from the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, winds along Eklutna River’s eastern tributary, and leads past spectacular Tulchina Falls to the gateway of a backcountry wilderness. It’s best hiked as a day outing from Eklutna Alex or Kanchee Campgrounds (located at miles 8 and 10 of Lakeside Trail), though if you bike the Lakeside Trail you can easily make it a day trip from the trailhead. Adventurous hikers may want to press on past trail’s end and explore the upper East Fork Valley. Travel may be difficult below the brush line, but several clear side valleys beckon higher up. If you venture deep enough into the valley, you’ll even glimpse the icy fingers of Whiteout Glacier. Bring a topographical map and your sense of adventure.A long day hike or overnight trip to an alpine basin and a high ridge in the Chugach Mountains. A steep hike to a high tundra basin, the Falls Creek Trail threads its way up a narrow valley into the region of some of the highest peaks along Turnagain Arm. Wildflowers, wild mountains, Dall sheep, and the headwater tarn known locally as Falls Lake are all highlights of a visit to the Falls Creek drainage. In late summer the berries come out: blueberries, cranberries, crowberries, watermelon berries, salmonberries, and the poisonous baneberry. Two huge peaks?Indianhouse Mountain (4,350 feet) and South Suicide Peak (5,005 feet)?loom above the basin. Allow most of a long summer day for this seemingly short hike; the trail is rough, steep, and slow, and you’ll want to linger and enjoy the beauty of the place once you’ve expended the energy it takes to get here. The trail is steep and brushy, especially in the alder zone, which begins about a mile into the hike. There are two potentially confusing spots in the first 0.5 mile. Take a switchback to the right where a left fork stays low along the creek, and a bit higher, take the path to the left in a small rocky opening. Special features: Alpine scenery, wildlife, cross-country hiking from the end of the trail, and Chugach Range ridges and peaks.Paddling in the cove, to the nearby islands, and into Port Althorp makes for some pleasant day trips in generally protected waters. The directions here are for those staying in Elfin Cove or camping on nearby George Island. Trip Highlights: This is a very scenic area with truly spectacular views of Brady Glacier in Taylor Bay. Sea otters and a variety of seabirds, including puffins, will keep you entertained as you paddle the ocean swells along spectacular granite cliffs.The East Fork Trail to Tulchina Falls is an excellent waterfall hike. The falls are spectacular from the bottom and can also be climbed?carefully?for a different view. The biggest drawback with this trail is getting to it. It is a relatively short hike to the falls, but it is a 10.5-mile venture to the trailhead. The path parallels the east fork of the Eklutna River, travels through the valley and across a variety of terrain, including mixed forests, rockslides, riverbanks, unbridged stream crossings, and shrubby vegetation.If you like cascading waterfalls, a great stream, and exceptional views of Turnagain Arm, you don’t want to miss this hike. The rumbling stream with gradual cascading falls and mountain views provides a picturesque valley setting unique to this trail. The trail is rough and steep and climbs high enough that you’re likely to see Dall sheep, golden eagles, and Arctic ground squirrels in the higher elevations. Spruce grouse can also be spotted along the heavily forested path at the beginning of the hike.Paved highway from Fox to Mile 28, gravel road for remaining distance to Manley Hot Springs; 152 miles (245 kilometers) overall. This gravel road runs northward through the forested high country of the Yukon-Tanana uplands and then jogs westward to reach Manley Hot Springs. The road is paved as far as Wickersham Dome, is broad and graveled as far as Livengood, and becomes narrower with some twists and turns in the final stretch. It provides access to the Dalton Highway at Livengood and parallels the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline to this point. The Elliott traverses an empty quarter of the state that retains much of its primeval wilderness character. Service stations are a rarity; you can get gas at Mile 5.5, at Minto, and at Manley Hot Springs. The road is passable in all weather, but the final stretch between Livengood and Manley Hot Springs may become potholed following rainstorms. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.A variety of day hikes in the glacier and forest landscape near the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. The East Glacier and Nugget Creek Trails lead beyond the crowds at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center into the forest and glacier landscape above the Mendenhall Valley. The visitor center, set on a hill on the south shore of Mendenhall Lake, was the Forest Service’s first-ever visitor center, built in the 1960s.The lake and glacier are the premier destination for the thousands of cruise-ship tourists who visit Juneau, but they don’t venture much beyond the visitor center and the short trails just outside it, leaving the mountains above the center very quiet in comparison. Mendenhall Glacier flows 12 miles off the Juneau Icefield, terminating on the floor of the Mendenhall Valley, the home of a Juneau bedroom community. The Mendenhall is Alaska’s southernmost road-accessible glacier, not to mention the only one in a suburban setting. The glacier is the focus of the visitor center; be sure to check out the center’s exhibits, and if you need a book or map, stop at the small Alaska Natural History Association shop inside. Special features: Alaska’s southernmost road-accessible glacier, a visitor center focused on glaciers and glacial landscapes, waterfalls, and successional and old-growth forests.Falls Creek tumbles down an intimate valley, cut off from the outside world by steep mountainsides. At the head of the valley you’ll find Falls Creek Tarn, nestled beneath South Suicide Peak. The Falls Creek Trail follows the creek from Turnagain Arm to the tarn, an inviting route to both the isolated lake and the mountain beyond. Come up for a picnic, explore the valley, and climb the peak, all in a comfortable day’s hike.For every valley in Chugach State Park with a hiking trail, many others remain untracked. Ewe Valley is one such area, included in this guide as a place to explore. There is no specific trail information or map here because there’s no trail to follow. In fact, this valley has no official name; we call it Ewe Valley after the massive, craggy peak towering at its eastern edge, and for the herds of Dall sheep that call it home. It’s stunning to see so many of these elegant, agile creatures confidently scrambling across endless slopes of black scree.Follow the Twin Peaks Trail to tree line, and continue on a footpath through alpine tundra to East Twin Pass and a sudden, magnificent view over the Matanuska Valley to the Talkeetna Mountains. On the way up, shimmering Eklutna Lake is visible southward far below. The trail wraps around a broad ridge, leaving the lake vista behind, and climbs into a confined valley, with the dramatic rocky ramparts of the Twin Peaks containing the view until vistas break open again at the pass. With these peaks often in sight during the ascent, the hike is mysterious on gray days when clouds swirl around the summits. Chances of seeing Dall sheep are good, and the route crosses well-defined sheep trails near the pass, opening possibilities for easy traverses and further exploration of the upper bowl.The Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge offers the best birding in the Fairbanks region along a small system of easy urban trails. Each year over 150 different species of birds at some point call this farm home, a third of which can be seen in the short summer season. Sandhill cranes and Canada geese have trademarked the refuge and flock here in the hundreds from spring through fall.no city of Anchorage, and railroad construction was just beginning, but there was a Mount Marathon race. The runners in this mountain marathon start from the town center near sea level, climb to Race Point (elevation 3,022 feet on the southeast ridge of Marathon Mountain), and return. The record is 43 minutes, 11 seconds, set in 1981 by Bill Spencer. Independence Day is the most exciting time to make the climb, whether you are in the race or not, but it is a good hike anytime during the summer. A hikers’ trail and the runners’ trail climb toward Race Point, although the hikers’ trail has easier destinations as well. The hikers’ trail is steep, the runners’ trail steeper. Fortunately, both provide spectacular views of Resurrection Bay, giving a ready excuse to pause. You may choose to go up the hikers’ trail and down the runners’ trail; the two lower ends are within easy walking distance.Half-day to overnight hikes from Eklutna Lake to the alpine country of East Twin Pass. Mountain slopes bursting with wildflowers, bright creeks tumbling over rocky streambeds, bands of Dall sheep grazing in high meadows, and golden eagles riding the air currents above?this is what the country around East Twin Pass is all about. The 2.5-mile Twin Peaks Trail, an old roadway that’s closed to motor vehicles and bicycles, is the hiker’s highway into the alpine terrain below the craggy summits of Twin Peaks. The maintained trail ends at a fine viewpoint, and several unmaintained hiking routes branch off from there. East Twin Pass, 1.5 miles beyond the end of the trail and a full-day round-trip hike, is a gap on the prominent ridge to the north at 4,450 feet elevation. Twin Peaks, west of the pass on the same ridge, are rugged, crumbling masses of rock that are difficult and dangerous to climb, so the pass and the walk-up peaks nearby are the best longer hiking trips in this part of the park. Special features: Alpine meadows and peaks, abundant Dall sheep.Thanks to easy access, Flattop is probably the most frequently climbed peak in Alaska, and the trip to its broad summit has long been the classic afternoon hike near Anchorage. The view from the top extends from Denali (Mount McKinley) in the northwest to Mount Redoubt volcano in the southwest. Although parts of the climb are steep, most of the ascent is not difficult. Novices may have problems, however. Do not take small children unless they are cautious, experienced hikers. Boots with good traction and ankle support are recommended for safety. On the shortest and longest nights of the year, the Mountaineering Club of Alaska holds overnight outings on the summit (despite the lack of water). Flattop is a good winter climb for those properly equipped, but avalanches have killed people here on the north and southwest slopes and even on the low hills leading up to Flattop.Three short day-hiking loop trails near the face of Exit Glacier, in Kenai Fjords National Park. Exit Glacier is one of the thirty-five glaciers that flow off the 500-square-mile Harding Icefield, the central feature of Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Exit Glacier area is the only road-accessible section of the park. The glacier is now approximately 3 miles long, but it has retreated rapidly in the last couple of hundred years; in earlier days the terminus was 8 miles down the Resurrection River valley, roughly where the valley meets the Seward Highway today. These three short trails are a good introduction to glaciers and the landscape they leave behind as they retreat?an especially “hot” topic these days as so many Alaska glaciers are shrinking in the warming climate. There is a seasonal ranger station and nature center near the trailhead and a small, tent-only, walk-in campground nearby. Special features: Exit Glacier, interpretive displays, guided hikes and programs, and a small nature center/bookstore.Paved road from Richardson Highway to Chitina; 35 miles (56 kilometers). Narrow gravel road from Chitina to McCarthy; 61 miles (98 kilometers). This route is the primary road into Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, the largest park in the United States (six times as big as Yellowstone). The first 33 miles to Chitina are paved. Beyond this point, the McCarthy Road follows the abandoned grade of the Copper River and Northwestern Railway. This route is extremely narrow, so pass oncoming vehicles with caution. Even if you are driving a passenger car, you may have to find a wide spot to pull over to allow another vehicle to pass. This part of the route runs through Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park, but most of the roadway is flanked by privately owned land. The road dead-ends on the banks of the Kennicott River. The town of McCarthy and the abandoned Kennecott Copper Mine lie across the river, and at the time this book was written, they could only be reached via a hand-powered cable tram above the water. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.Flattop is climbed more often than any mountain in Alaska, and that is a mixed blessing. It boasts a high trailhead with plenty of space for parking, a short and well-maintained trail, and gorgeous summit vistas from Cook Inlet to Denali. And yet Flattop is somehow… un-Alaskan! Alaska is famous for its beautiful wilderness, not for its crowds. Flattop has an abundance of both, bringing to mind Yogi Berra’s oft-quoted lament about a favorite restaurant: “Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded.” On most other trails in Chugach State Park, you’ll likely see a mere handful of fellow hikers; on Flattop, you might as well be strolling down Anchorage’s Fourth Avenue. Still, Flattop is an undeniably beautiful hike and the flagship of Chugach State Park’s “accessible wilderness.” It’s almost a tradition: sometime during the summer, enjoy a sunny evening with your friends and family atop Flattop Mountain. Just don’t expect to be the only ones.This is a good hike if your time is limited or if you came to the park for biking or spending an afternoon at the lake and want another activity. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, with relatively low elevation gain, making it ideal for the entire family.Flattop Mountain is the most climbed peak in all Alaska, so plan on plenty of company on this trail. Don’t let the difficulty rating discourage you. A little extra effort to Flattop plateau will gain you extraordinary views of the Alaska Range, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, and Anchorage?and a high point of 3,550 feet.Flattop Mountain is the most climbed peak in all Alaska, so plan on having plenty of company on this trail. But don’t let the crowds discourage you if you have never ventured up Flattop. There are extraordinary views of the Alaska Range, Turnagain Arm, Cook Inlet, and Anchorage and a high point of 3,550 feet. The well-maintained trail is fun to hike and a tradition for many.Eydlu Bena Loop Trail is an easy forested walk. It begins on a wide old roadbed, narrows into a dirt and gravel path, and eventually loops down to join the Eklutna Lakeside Trail. This is a good hike if your time is limited in this section of the park or as an extra activity if you came to the park for biking or just for an afternoon at the lake. The trail is well marked and easy to follow, with relatively low elevation gain, making it an ideal trail for the entire family. This trail can also be hiked in early spring, when other trails in the park are stilled closed.Despite their proximity to popular Eagle Lake, the windswept glacial erratics, lichen fields, and meltwater rivulets of Flute Glacier Valley see few human visitors. Hikers exploring the 4-mile length of this valley will find easy walking, abundant room for camping, and the chance to walk right up to the base of a massive glacier. The truly adventurous might also find their way up Eagle Peak, a challenging scramble. While it’s possible to reach both Flute Glacier and Eagle Peak in 1 long day from South Fork Trailhead, most people will want to make this an overnight trip and camp out on Eagle Lake’s shores or halfway up Flute Glacier Valley.Short to half-day hikes in a popular, scenic alpine area above Anchorage. On summer weekends and evenings after work, scores of Anchorage residents visit the Glen Alps entrance to Chugach State Park for short walks, berry picking, or the hike to the top of Flattop. The trail to Flattop, a high, level summit in the first tier of peaks in the Chugach Mountains, is a very popular hike to great views of mountains, ocean, and Alaska’s largest city. The peak is a great destination, and you can camp on top if you carry your own water. An Anchorage outdoor tradition, begun by the Alaska Mountaineering Club, is to spend the nights of the summer and winter solstices on the summit. Special features: Awesome views, an accessible trail, and the most visited mountaintop in Alaska. The last pitch of the climb to Flattop is a bit rough and requires some care.Spreading like fingers on a hand across the southern side of the Upper Yukon Valley, the five forks of the Fortymile River begin as nunerous small, clear headwater streams. A major tributary of the Yukon River, the Fortymile flows generally northeasterly to empty into the Yukon in Canada. The Fortymile and its tributaries drain approximately 6,600 square miles of the Yukon-Tanana Uplands. The Fortymile offers mining history, scenic country, and a road-accessible river trip. The North Fork of the Fortymile is formed by the confluence of Slate and Independence creeks, which flow from 5,000-foot mountains in the Yukon-Tanana Uplands. The North Fork flows east, then south, and after the Middle Fork empties into it, flows southeasterly to its confluence with the South Fork, for a total distance of 55 miles. Average gradient of the North Fork is 10 feet per mile.A long day or overnight loop hike to an alpine ridge topped with granite pinnacles and towers. The Granite Tors are granite towers, pinnacles, and slabs that crown Munson Ridge, the alpine ridge at the head of Rock Creek, southwest of the Chena River. (A tor is a large, isolated outcrop of rock). The Plain of Monuments, about midway on the hike, is Alaska’s natural Stonehenge. There are scattered tors west of the Plain of Monuments, including the Lizard’s Eye, a tor with a round, eyelike opening near the top. A 0.5-mile spur trail off the East Trail leads to the North Tors, an outlying group of granite towers. Special features: Great views, scenic granite outcrops, a rock-climbing area for experienced climbers, and a trail shelter. Limited water on the trail.A half-day or overnight hike to 2 lakes near tree line on the Kenai Refuge, with access to higher country from the lakes. Nestled into subalpine bowls between the alpine summits of Round Mountain and the Mystery Hills, the Fuller Lakes are relatively easy to reach on foot. The trail offers good camping, fishing, and off-trail access to the high country. The entire hike is in the Mystery Creek portion of the Kenai Wilderness. Special features: Lakes, fishing, access to alpine ridge hiking.This heart-pumping but immediately rewarding hike leads to spectacular vistas of the Globe Creek valley and a series of rock outcroppings popular with area rock climbers. The strenuous but short mile-long loop is heavily traveled through the summer and maintained solely by climbers.Fuller Lake, a tempting jewel, lies at tree line surrounded by scattered hemlock, spruce, willow scrub, and grassy meadows. Lower Fuller Lake, smaller and nestled just below tree line, is a good destination for families. Hikers can make Fuller Lake their goal or continue up the ridge to the west for a panoramic view. A point-to-point route for really energetic hikers connects these lakes and the Skyline Trail, farther west, via the ridge of the Mystery Hills.Kachemak Bay State Park offers hikes for everyone?from families with infants to experienced backpackers?and even the easiest comes complete with a glacier lake, icebergs, towering peaks, and a spectacular coast. This book covers some of the most accessible trails. One leads to a large, iceberg-dotted lake at the foot of Grewingk Glacier; one to a high ridge overlooking the lake, the ice, and the ocean; and one to Grewingk Glacier itself. The park, across Kachemak Bay from the city of Homer, requires boat or airplane access. Water taxis and air taxis are available in Homer. Experienced ocean kayakers can cross the bay but only on the calmest days. Water taxis can carry kayaks on other days. This hike description includes the following trails: Alpine Ridge and Grewingk Glacier Trail.George Inlet lies a few miles southeast of Ketchikan and is easily accessible from town by road. Much of the time George Inlet offers protected waters for kayaking?especially in its upper reaches. Trip Highlights: Scenic paddling, waterfowl, wilderness camping, marine and terrestrial mammals.A variety of hikes, from an easy half-day to a rugged 2-to-3-day backpack, to Grewingk Lake, Grewingk Glacier, and alpine ridges overlooking the valley. The glacier is named after a Russian geologist, Constantine Grewingk, who wrote a grand treatise on the geology of Alaska and the rest of northwestern North America in the nineteenth century, though he never came to Alaska himself. Special features: A glacial lake, views of Grewingk Glacier, alpine ridge rambling. Access is by water taxi from Homer.The steep but easy-to-follow Glen Alps to Williwaw Lakes Trail is a popular day hike to alpine tundra lakes. Wildlife such as moose, bears, Arctic ground squirrels, and willow ptarmigan is present in this area. The trail includes a bridged stream crossing; great views of Mount Williwaw, Flattop Mountain, and Wolverine Peak; and the Williwaw Lakes at trail’s end. An optional loop trail from the lakes follows Campbell Creek back to the trailhead.Plan well before undertaking a hike to Grizzly Bear Lake. To reach the lake, you’ll have to cross miles of untracked backcountry, climb over a steep pass, and pick your way through a daunting moraine field. And that’s the easy route! Because it is so difficult to reach, Grizzly Bear Lake is among the wildest spots in Chugach State Park. The small signs of human presence one expects to find in the more traveled parts of the park?a rusted tin can from a decade-old hunter’s camp, an overturned rock once used to pin down a flapping tent?are entirely absent. Wilderness sprawls around the lake on all sides, devoid of human imprint.Paved highway from Anchorage to Glennallen; 189 miles (304 kilometers). The Glenn Highway runs eastward from Anchorage, passing through the Matanuska Valley on its way to the Copper River basin. The highway follows a trail that was blazed in 1898 by Lieutenant Joseph Castner and his guide, mountain man H. H. Hicks. Castner’s superior, Captain Edwin F. Glenn, took the lion’s share of the credit for the expedition even though he was absent during most of it. A railway line was built through the lower reaches of the Matanuska Valley in 1916, but the land to the east remained a hostile wilderness. The eastern portions of the Glenn Highway existed as a pack trail through the 1930s. It was not until World War II that it was upgraded to a highway to link Elmendorf Air Force Base with the rest of the Alaska highway system. The route follows the Border Ranges Fault, which defines the northern edge of the Chugach terrane. The modern highway is paved, and highlights include views of the glaciers that descend from the Chugach Mountains and vistas of the Wrangell volcanoes, clad eternally in snow. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The Gulkana, a National Wild and Scenic River, is one of Alaska's most popular whitewater rivers because of its road accessibility and because of the outstanding fishing opportunities it offers. From its headwaters in the lake and plateau country at the foot of the Alaska Range, the beautifully clear Gulkana flows through forested rolling hills for 83 miles before meeting the Copper River. It has two major tributaries, the Middle Fork and the West Fork. To run the Main Fork of the Gulkana, you must row or paddle 3 miles down Paxson Lake to its outlet. The first 3 miles out of Paxson Lake are shallow, rocky Class II rapids. Here the river drops about 25 feet per mile; continuous fast water and small rapids require alertness. Several old cabins with sagging sod roofs can be seen on the riverbanks.The Goodnews is an easy river with beautiful scenery and wonderful fishing. Short, and crystal-dear, it produces all five species of salmon as well as arctic grayling, rainbow trout, and Dolly Varden. Beginning at a small lake in the Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, the Goodnews River flows about 15 miles to Goodnews Lake, nestled within the Ahkhrn Mountains, then flows southwesterly more than 60 miles before emptying into Goodnews Bay. For more than half its length, it flows through designated wilderness in the Togiak Refuge. While western Alaska and the Bristol Bay region is generally characterized as flats and wetlands, the Goodnews stays in the emerald-green, tundra-covered Mountains for much of its length. The lower river has a slow or nonexistent current due to the tidal influence of Goodnews Bay. Upriver winds can make downriver travel more difficult.To enjoy an easy trail with intermittent views of the ocean, take this woodsy path to Gull Rock along the southwest side of Turnagain Arm. Watch for moose on land, beluga whales in the water, and bald eagles in the air. The views of the Arm and the mountains beyond are especially nice in spring and fall when the trees bordering the trail are free of leaves. Hikers of any age will appreciate this gentle trail. The trail, an old wagon road built in the late 1920s, leaves the Hope area and parallels Turnagain Arm west for 5.1 miles. Although today’s trail ends at Gull Rock, the wagon road?no longer maintained or free of brush? once connected with the broad flat area west of the Kenai Mountains, where a tractor trail now follows a natural gas pipeline from the Swanson River oil field to a crossing of Turnagain Arm. The reminders of earlier days are fascinating: the remains of a cabin and stable on Johnson Creek near the end of the trail, a mossy old bridge that once crossed the creek, and the ruins of a sawmill.Granite Tors is traditionally a strenuous 15-mile trek showcasing granite pinnacles high in the alpine zone. The revamped addition of an easy 2-mile loop to the trail offers an excellent alternative to the challenging haul. With distant views of the tors, the 2-mile loop stretches along the North Fork Chena River and diverts through vast burn patches that enable spanning vistas despite low elevations.A long day hike or overnight trip to a prominent point along the south coast of Turnagain Arm. The trail crosses the forested slope above Turnagain Arm to Gull Rock, a prominent headland that projects well out into the arm. This is one of the earliest hikes to open on the Kenai Peninsula in the spring. Watch for mountain bikes; the trail is popular with bikers, and the narrow trail dips and twists enough that visibility is limited. The trail is a popular hike or ride for campers at the Porcupine Creek Campground. The Gull Rock hike is loaded with variety: leaf-carpeted birch woods, bluffs with mountain and ocean views, small streams gushing through quiet forest, a pretty talus and tundra slope, an avalanche gully that can hold snow into June (take care crossing it), and dark, mossy forests of hemlock and Sitka spruce. The trail crosses several small creeks, but the only large stream is Johnson Creek, about 0.3 miles from the end of the trail. Special features: Coast and forest scenery, historic interest.Paved highway from Haines Junction to Haines, Alaska; 244 kilometers (152 miles). This route was originally one of the famed “grease trails” used by the Chilkat band of the Tlingit Indians to carry rendered candlefish oil, baskets, and seashells inland to trade for caribou hides, moccasins, and birchwood bows made by the interior Athapaskan tribes. Each Tlingit chief had an Athapaskan counterpart with whom he had exclusive trading rights. Trade routes extended as far inland as the site of Fort Selkirk on the Yukon River. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The Haines to Skagway trip appeals to a lot of folks, but it should only be attempted by experienced kayakers. The distance is not great, only about 17 miles, but the way is not always kayaker friendly. It is a scenic trip going either north or south through a fjord with views of snowfields and distant glaciers. The abrupt walls that rise from the waters of Taiya Inlet offer few opportunities to haul out or camp. This can be a problem because the constricted topography tends to focus winds, making for challenging paddling. It is quite reasonable to paddle one way and use the Auk Nu or the AMHS ferry for the other half of the trip. Trip Highlights: Scenic views?especially Sawmill Creek Waterfall, which cascades down the east side of Taiya Inlet across from Taiya Point.Off the main trail to Eagle Lake lies Hanging Valley, named for its striking geologic origin. A hanging valley is created when a glacier retreats up a large valley (in this case South Fork Eagle River), leaving smaller side valleys still filled with glacial tongues. As these smaller glaciers retreat, they leave U-shaped valleys with floors higher than that of the main valley. The smaller valleys therefore appear to “hang” halfway up the sides of a larger valley. Chugach State Park boasts many such hanging valleys, but few are as accessible as this one. An easy trail leads through the valley to an isolated tarn and climbs to a high point on the valley wall. Such a quiet and beautiful place, so near a trailhead, is a rarity.This trail is an offshoot of the South Fork Trail that leads to Eagle and Symphony Lakes. It provides some awesome views of the Eagle River Valley and South Fork Eagle River as it works its way up into the hanging valley perched above the Eagle River Valley floor. The final destination for most hikers, near the end of the valley, is the hidden Hanging Valley Tarn, nestled in a secluded cirque. This is an excellent camping area garlanded with wildflowers and alpine mosses, accompanied by the scurrying activity of Arctic ground squirrels. The lake provides a tranquil environment for camping and a stopping ground for several species of waterfowl such as gulls, harlequin ducks, and Barrow’s goldeneye.Just off the Powerline Trail, a narrow track leads up a side valley to a trio of grand destinations: Hidden Lake, The Ramp, and The Wedge. Each is worth a visit, and with an early start and enough energy you can see all three in the same day. Hidden Lake?so named because you will not see it until you’ve almost stepped in it?is the easiest of the three destinations. The Ramp, an elegant triangular peak rising above Ship Lake Pass, boasts a tiny summit and expansive vistas. The Wedge is altogether different, a crumbling mess of a mountain cleaving South Fork Campbell Creek Valley in two. It’s worth a visit for precipitous views over both halves of the valley.A long day or overnight traverse on the alpine ridge above Sitka. The Harbor Mountain?Gavan Hill hike traverses the open ridgeline above Sitka, skirting the watershed of Cascade Creek and leading to great sea, island, and peak views, including a close look at Baranof Island’s wild, icy summit range. Other highlights are a side trip to climb the first peak of Harbor Mountain, a fine wildflower slope on the south side of the mountain, and stretches of alpine heather around the head of Cascade Creek. Eagles ride thermals above the heights, and deer wander the high country in summer. Special features: Subalpine and alpine hiking, views, and a trail shelter on an alpine ridge.Access to the western trails in Chugach State Park is gained from the hillside of east Anchorage. Four major trailheads access the assortment of trails called the Hillside Trail System, ranging from easy, wide old roadbeds to more difficult routes requiring mountaineering skills. Trail highlights include excellent alpine scenery and lakes, wildflowers, wildlife, fall berry picking, and outstanding views of Anchorage, the Alaska Range, and Cook Inlet. This area of the park has something for everyone.On the southwest side of the West Arm of Glacier Bay is one of the park’s most scenic areas. There are no tidewater glaciers here, but there is great scenery?plus a lot of serenity and wildlife to watch, including bears, moose, and wolves. Scidmore Bay and Charpentier Inlet are off-limits to motorized boats in the summer time. You can take nice hikes up toward Hugh Miller and Scidmore Glaciers.A long day hike in the Exit Glacier area of Kenai Fjords National Park to an overlook of the Harding Icefield. Start early and pack a camera and plenty of film for this hike to the edge of the Harding Icefield, where dark peaks poke out of a sea of ice. The trail climbs gradually through forest and brush, alpine wildflower meadows, and finally rock and snow to an overlook of the icefield. The moderate, switchbacking grade comes to you courtesy of Student Conservation Association trail workers?high school students hailing from all over the United States?who worked for several years building this spectacular trail. Fog, rain, and poor visibility are common, and weather can change quickly, so carry warm, waterproof clothes even on sunny days. Be prepared to retreat if bad weather moves in; you probably couldn’t see anything anyway. If the weather is decent, be ready to be amazed. Special features: Exit Glacier and the Harding Icefield, great views and wildlife, especially mountain goats.The Historic Iditarod Trail, also known as the Crow Pass Trail, has something for everyone and is rich in wildlife, history, and adventure. The trail is very well maintained and marked and offers extraordinary scenic views with glaciers, fast-moving mountain streams and rivers, numerous large waterfalls, deep gorges, and mountain lakes?all in a 26-mile span.Idaho Inlet, a deep bay that extends 12 miles south from South Passage, is “just around the corner” from Elfin Cove. In this remote location you are sure to see a lot of sea otters, Sitka black-tailed deer, and a few brown bears as you paddle along shore. In July and August this is a great area for pigging out on salmonberries, blueberries, and huckleberries. Trip Highlights: Remote area paddling with lots of solitude and opportunities to see a variety of animals.The simple 0.5-mile nature trail of the Harding Lake State Recreation Area hosts quiet wildlife viewing and a horde of red squirrels. A more rustic mile-long extension through the old-growth spruce forest can be tacked on for a longer hike.For a grand tour of the best Chugach State Park has to offer, head to the Historic Iditarod Trail. More commonly known as the Crow Pass Trail, it leads through quiet stands of birch; over a swift, cold river; and past high valleys, deep gorges, sapphire-blue tarns, and an immense glacier. Add several jagged peaks and scattered remnants of Alaska’s gold mining days, and you’re in for an unbeatable backpacking experience. Regular maintenance and heavy traffic (by Alaskan standards, that is) make the Historic Iditarod Trail less remote and wild than other hikes in this guide, but do not even think about missing it. You’ll be hard pressed to find a lover of Chugach State Park who hasn’t hiked this trail multiple times. Of course, you need not hike the whole trail. Excellent out-and-back trips are possible at either end. From Girdwood, hike to Crow Pass in an easy afternoon, lounge at Crystal Lake, and perhaps climb a nearby mountain. Start at Eagle River for walks of a different character, where you can hike through serene forests at the river’s edge and camp in the shadow of forbidding peaks named Korohusk, Kiliak, and Yukla?all derived from Dena’ina words meaning “evil spirits.”Short day hikes in Independence Mine State Historical Park in the Talkeetna Mountains. Independence Mine State Historical Park commemorates the Alaska-Pacific Consolidated Mining Company gold mines near Hatcher Pass, the second-richest lode (vein) mines in Alaska’s history. The park’s trails are all alpine hikes, beginning at 3,500 feet elevation. There are many acres of alpine tundra to explore, and wildflowers are out in force by late June or early July. Special features: Mining history, alpine tundra, and the rugged Talkeetna Mountains. Independence Mine is on the National Register of Historic Places.Improved gravel road from Palmer to Willow; 49 miles (79 kilometers). This gravel road (also known as the Fishhook-Willow Road) climbs over a high tundra pass in the Talkeetna Mountains, linking the Glenn and Parks highways. It travels through the Willow Creek Mining District, site of the Independence Mine State Historical Park and other abandoned structures from the hard-rock gold-mining days of the early 1900s. One of the first roads in the original Alaska Territory ran between the town of Knik and the Grubstake Gulch placer fields on Willow Creek. Another road was later built from Palmer to the Independence Mine. The alpine scenery along this road is fantastic, including brilliant wildflower displays and possibly some of the wildlife that lives above the timberline. The road is closed in the winter and opens when the snow has melted, usually by late June or early July. It is quite narrow and steep in sections and has no guardrails. It is not recommended for wide vehicles or trailers. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.Take a walk into history through Keystone Canyon, along the route used by seekers of gold more than 100 years ago. The Historic Valdez Trail climbs the mountainside above the south end of Keystone Canyon, and then traverses the west side of the canyon several hundred feet above the Lowe River. After the first initial climb at the south end, it’s an easy walk on a mostly level trail through a thick forest of Sitka spruce with occasional glimpses of spectacular waterfalls plunging down canyon walls and misty mountains looming overhead. Access points every 2 to 3 miles make several variations possible.This scenic trail is totally paved and follows the Turnagain Arm, the Seward Highway, and parts of the Alaskan Railroad. It has several bridge crossings, an underpass, scenic overlooks with viewing scopes, picnic areas and toilet facilities, and opportunities to view numerous varieties of Alaskan wildlife such as beavers, moose, Dall sheep, beluga whales, and various birds. This is also a popular bike trail that can be easily completed in a day.A short day trip on an interpretive trail through the forest at the edge of the Copper River delta. The Haystack Trail is an out-and-back interpretive trail that climbs a low double knob at the edge of the Copper River delta. Steps and boardwalk lead through a mossy forest of Sitka spruce and hemlock, some of it old growth and some second growth. In the early 1900s, railroaders cut some of the timber here for ties for the Copper River and Northwestern Railway, the line that connected the rich Kennecott Copper Mine near McCarthy with the port at Cordova. The knob is the “haystack,” an enormous chunk of granite left behind when the last river of ice ground through the delta, shaped something like a stack of drying silage in a field after haying. This haystack is a raised island of forest, a higher and drier environment than the wetlands of the delta below. Special features: Forest scenery and an interpretive trail.The Holitna, a meandering Interior river flowing through an isolated region, is recommended for paddlers with good wilderness skills. Beginning at the confluence of the Kogrukluk River and Shotgun Creek, the Holitna flows northerly for about 200 miles to its confluence with the Kuskokwim River near the village of Sleetmute. With a watershed of 4,180 square miles, the Holitna is the largest in the lower Kuskokwim basin. The river meanders across a broad, low valley, with gentle slopes rising to thousand-foot hills. In the southwestern part of the Holitna basin, northeast and southwest of the Chukowan River and lower Oksotalik Creek, are high, smoothly rOilllded hills. The most conspicuous feature is Kazik Hill, an isolated sharp pinnacle about 8 miles northwest of Kashegelok Village.If Chugach State Park has a specific birthplace, it is Indian Creek Valley. In 1969, a petition to log the valley’s towering old-growth spruce spurred a group of citizens to action. They sought to protect not only this valley, but the whole of Anchorage’s vast backyard by campaigning for a state park. The park they proposed was larger than any ever created by a state, nearly two-thirds the size of Yosemite National Park. Backed by a coalition of local groups and widespread public support, they prevailed. Indian Valley is testament to their achievement: it remains, as it was then, a serene and pristine slice of Alaska’s wilderness.A half-day or overnight hike up the Herbert River valley to a view of the Herbert Glacier. Deep forest, a large river, a glacial “beach,” bedrock, and blue ice make a fine setting for this 4-mile trail up the Herbert River. The maintained trail ends on the Herbert Glacier’s outwash plain, with Herbert Glacier in the distance. Special features: Lush forest and Herbert Glacier.A delightfully different Alaska experience in summer or winter, a walk along the Homer beach takes you away from the bustle of the town. Kachemak Bay, with its mountain backdrop, is one of Alaska’s loveliest areas. Overlook Park, located halfway between two access points, is a special treat in the spring. On the beach at low tide, look for sea stars (starfish), many kinds of clam shells, mussels, whelk (neptune) shells, rocks covered with barnacles, sea urchins, snails, crabs, small shorebirds, gulls, scoters, loons, Harlequin ducks, and kittiwakes. Coal and sometimes fossils can be found below the cliffs that border the beach. Bald eagles often soar along the steep, eroding shoreline bluffs. Waterfalls cascade to the beach; driftwood logs thrown up by storm waves provide ready benches and tables for picnics. Walkers of all ages will enjoy a walk in the brisk salt air.A long day or overnight hike on a low-elevation forest-and-river trail to a waterfall. Indian River is as good a low-elevation, forest-and-stream hike as there is in Southeast. The small river is a beautiful clear-water stream full of rocky riffles, deep green pools, and bouldery rapids. The hike features several crossings of forks of the river and its tributaries, all over log bridges. The forest is the signature spruce-hemlock-cedar forest of Southeast, with cathedral-like, open, mossy pockets of giant Sitka spruce. Wood thrushes, Steller’s jays, and winter wrens are common, and runs of silver, pink, and chum salmon make their way up the river in late summer and fall. Hikers sometimes spot deer and bears in the valley. Special features: A pretty, clearwater stream, deep forest, and a waterfall. The trailhead is within easy walking distance of downtown Sitka.The Talkeetna Mountains, which invite endless wandering, are a fascinating wilderness of peaks, tundra, alpine valleys, and clear mountain streams, most of it far from civilization. The trip over Chitna Pass is nearly circular and includes unmaintained trails. Using the trails as access and topographic maps as a guide, many other trips are possible, limited primarily by time and food supply. According to old-timers, prospectors traveled parts of this trail in the early 1900s. The route took them from Knik (which was accessible by boat from Seattle in the summer) and Chickaloon, up Boulder Creek, over Chitna Pass, and along Caribou Creek to Alfred Creek. Their destinations were gold prospects and mines on Alfred and Albert Creeks. Today, many of these routes are all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails, still used by miners and by hunters in the fall. The route described here starts on an ATV trail known as the Hicks Creek Trail or Pinochle Creek Trail and ends on an ATV trail known as the Purinton Creek Trail, connecting these with routes over Chitna Pass.The trip from Hoonah to Point Adolphus is not outstanding but the destination is. Point Adolphus is arguably the best place in Southeast Alaska to watch humpback whales. I don’t think there is any summer day when you will fail to see several humpbacks feeding and cavorting in the nearshore waters. This is also the place to see a pod or two of sea lions, orcas, porpoise, and most anything else that comes in pods?except peas. An occasional sea otter will swim by, while eagles soar overhead. There is excellent camping in Pinta Cove and on the west side of Point Adolphus.Indian Valley offers a good family hike along Indian Creek through a delightful combination of forests and meadows to alpine tundra and tiny lakes high in the mountains. In the early 1900s, dog mushers drove their dog teams from Indian to Ship Creek. They crossed over Indian Creek Pass, a part of the Iditarod Trail system between Seward and Interior goldfields. The route over Indian Pass was used alternately with the route over Crow Pass. The Indian Creek section of the trail has been cleared and is generally easy to find; the Ship Creek section is brushy, often boggy, and difficult to find. The traverse is most often done in winter by strong crosscountry skiers.A short day or overnight hike to the mouth of Hidden Creek and Skilak Lake. At 15 miles long and 2 to 4 miles wide, Skilak Lake is more than the average puddle; it’s the second-largest lake on the Kenai Refuge. This hike to the lake offers views of the alpine ridges and peaks of the Kenai Mountains, good picnic and camping spots, and fishing. Special features: Lake and mountain scenery, lakeshore camping, fishing.This is a fascinating trip to the head of Port Frederick, where you make a short portage before continuing down Tenakee Inlet. It ends with the compelling option of soaking in a hot spring at the town of Tenakee Springs, a fascinating town with a population of 101. The ferry Le Conte stops here four times a week and will take you back to Hoonah or on to Juneau. Although this is a car ferry, there is no off-loading of cars in town. In fact there are no cars or roads in Tenakee. Amenities do include a post office, a library, a small grocery store, and a liquor store. There’s also Rosie’s Blue Moon Cafe, synonymous with Tenakee Springs, a gathering place for the town’s eclectic and eccentric population. This adventure in protected solitude is an opportunity to see lots of wildlife, including brown bears, deer, river otters, mink, humpback and killer whales, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. The time spent on this route can be short or long depending on the weather and your energy. It can be pleasantly extended with a variety of side-and-add-on trips. In July and August the forest around Tenakee Springs is loaded with salmonberries, blueberries, and red huckleberries.A long day or overnight hike to a subalpine pass in the Chugach Mountains. The Indian Valley Trail features lush coastal forest, mountain meadows, and subalpine Indian Pass. For longer trips, you can continue through the pass into the upper Ship Creek valley and explore its three headwater forks, do the 20-mile, mostly cross country traverse between lower Ship Creek and Indian Valley, or cut over Ship Lake Pass on the 16-mile traverse between Glen Alps and Indian Creek. Indian Creek is holy ground in the history of Chugach State Park. In 1969, a proposal to log the valley ignited a citizen movement to protect the Chugach, and, as hard as it is to imagine in today’s political climate, the Alaska Legislature responded almost immediately, creating the half-million-acre park in 1970. Special features: A pretty forest walk; subalpine mountains; longer hikes beyond the pass, including traverses of 16 and 20 miles.Spectacular, though very steep for a while, the route to Hope Point offers impressive views of Turnagain Arm from a different angle than is usually available. The vista north across Turnagain Arm puts into perspective familiar Chugach Mountains southeast of Anchorage. Check the Chugach State Park map to help locate favorite spots.Ketchikan is Alaska’s southernmost major city and is reputedly the wettest spot in Alaska, with an average 165 inches of rain each year. Totem poles, salmon, and nearby Misty Fjords National Monument make it famous. Ketchikan, the fourth-largest city in Alaska, is one of the centers of the salmon industry. This eTrail is one complete vacation written with families in mind. It’s loaded with exciting things to do, family-friendly places to lodge and dine, recommended side trips, local sources of information, and detailed travel directions.Exploring around and among the Inian Islands can make for a nice day trip or even an overnighter with camping on the islands. There are sure to be a lot of waterfowl in this area, along with sea lions, seals, and sea otters. Residents report there is one lonesome resident bear on the largest island. Trip Highlights: Exploring scenic coves and wildlife viewing.From headwaters on the north side of the Arctic Divide in the Philip Smith Mountains of the Brooks Range, the Ivishak flows north 95 miles to its confluence with the Sagavanirktok River. A large clearwater stream, the Ivishak begins in a narrow glaciated valley surrounded by peaks rising to almost 7,000 feet. Several of the small headwater streams that contribute to the Ivishak stem from relic Pleistocene glaciers hanging high in the valley. Porrupine Lake, east of the river in a glacial trough, is a natural reservoir for the upper river drainage. The river begins as a single channel, and as it flows north, it braids and increases in size, taking on the Echooka and Saviukviayak rivers as major tributaries and coursing through a broad floodplain. Due to permafrost, water levels fluctuate daily, rising and falling dramatically with rainfall. Occasionally during dry spells in the Summer, parts of the river may disappear beneath the broad gravel channel. Shallow and swift, the upper 12 miles of the river drop more than 100 feet per mile. Below here, the gradient averages 32 feet per mile. Tributary streams have steep gradients. The stream collecting Porrupine Lake to the Ivishak has an average gradient of 167 feet per mile.Haines, along the Inside Passage on the northern end of North America’s largest fjord, Lynn Canal, is on a narrow peninsula between the Chilkoot and Chilkat inlets. John Muir first visited Haines in 1879, and in 1903 the U.S. Army selected Haines for its first permanent outpost in the Alaskan Territory. The city is known for its scenic setting and for its fall gathering of bald eagles. Another plus: In fall, winter, and spring, the northern lights, the aurora borealis, are visible from Haines. The average July temperature hovers around 66 degrees Fahrenheit; the average January temperature is 17 degrees but can go as low as ?15 degrees. Dress appropriately. Remember that in fall and winter daylight is limited. While mid-October has about ten hours of daylight, mid- November has about seven and a half hours, and by December there are only six hours of daylight, with sunrise about 10:00 A.M. and sunset as early as 2:30 P.M. This eTrail is one complete vacation written with families in mind. It’s loaded with exciting things to do, family-friendly places to lodge and dine, recommended side trips, local sources of information, and detailed travel directions.The Kantislma, a good family wilderness float on anonteclmical, meandering Interior river, begins in the foothills of Mount McKinley and heads northerly for more than 200 miles to its confluence with the Tanana River. From the outlet of Lake Minchumina, Muddy River flows about 50 miles to Brich Creek, which quickly joins the McKinley River near Chilchukabena Lake. The Kantishna flows through forests of spruce and hardwood, before leaving the foothills beltind. More advanced paddlers may want to float 50-mile-long Moose Creek from the edge of Wonder Lake.Although Crow Pass often throngs with hikers, nearby Jewel Mountain remains overlooked and rarely visited. It was not always such a quiet place, however. The mountain’s western slopes?dotted with old trails, littered with rusted cans, punctured by mine shafts?attest to a different era, when miners spent decades digging through Jewel’s heaps of scree in search of gold. Although Jewel’s mining days are long past, it now offers something even more valuable: solitude. This isn’t a trip for the beginner. Climbing Jewel requires some scrambling, and takes you closer to a glacier’s edge than some might care to go. The upper part of the route can stay snowy late into the summer. But navigate carefully and you’ll find Jewel’s secluded summit just a short walk from the well-worn Iditarod Trail.Short day hikes on 3 interconnected trails in the hill and lake country of the Kenai Refuge. The trail system is a good snapshot of the refuge: small lakes, wetlands, and spruce-birch forest, heavy on the white-barked, deciduous birches. The environs here are made up of low hills covered in fern-carpeted birch forests and interrupted occasionally by small lakes with wetland fringes. The mosquitoes can be thick in midsummer. Special features: A viewing deck on Headquarters Lake; interpretive signs; a nice loop through forested hills, lakes, and wetlands.Beginning on the south side of the Arctic Divide in the Central Brooks Range, the John River flows 145 miles through alpine tundra and forested valleys. From its headwaters on Soakpak Mountain, it flows south through Anaktuvuk Pass, an important migration route for the Western Arctic caribou herd. The scenery is outstanding throughout the entire river valley, with the jagged peaks of the Enclicott Mountains rising from the spruce-covered valley. Explore many tempting side valleys and tributaries, or spend a couple weeks in the watershed, hiking and floating. At Anaktuvuk Pass, the fiver is at 2,200 feet in elevation. Where it empties into the Koyukuk River about 5 miles downriver from Bettles, the elevation is less than 600 feet The river can be divided into three floatable sections. The upper section is suitable for experienced paddlers; the middle section, from Hunt Fork Lake, is the most popular section and is suitable for paddlers with intermediate skills. The lower section is a great family float.Beginning at Kenai Lake, the Kenai River flows west 75 miles through spruce-cottonwood forests surrounded by the Kenai Mountains to Cook Inlet at Kenai. Most of the river lies within Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Ranging from Class I to III, with excellent fishing, the Kenai is one of the most popular rivers in Southcentral Alaska. The Kenai River boasts runs of four Pacific salmon species-- king, sockeye, coho, and pink, as well as trophy-sized rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. Kenai River kings, or Chinook salmon, are among the largest North Pacific salmon, often weighing from 50 to more than 85 poounds. Runs of wild Kenai River salmon combine to support Alaska's largest recreational king, sockeye, and coho fisheries. In fact, the river is reputed to support the largest chinook salmon in the world. Exceedingly productive, with a variety of habitats, the river corridor supports large concentrations of bald eagles and migratory waterfowl.Between 1908 and 1910, the Alaska Road Commission constructed a trail for packhorses and dog teams through Johnson Pass en route to the gold fields of the Iditarod area. The first shipment of gold, more than a half million dollars worth, left Iditarod in December 1911 and took 54 days to reach Seward. This popular point-to-point trail follows portions of that route, now designated the Iditarod National Historic Trail. The country is a beautiful mix of forest and alpine terrain, placid lakes, and rowdy streams. The terrain is good for mountain biking, although the trail can be muddy, and there is potential for conflict with hikers.A variety of short day, half-day, and overnight hikes along the Kenai River on connecting trails from 2 trailheads. The Kenai River Trail meanders along two sections of the river through forests of spruce, aspen, cottonwood, and birch. The hike crosses sections of the 1991 Pothole Lake Fire and a smaller 2004 wildfire. This trail is the only place to hike anywhere along the Kenai, a world-class trout and salmon stream. Scenery, fishing, and late-summer berries are all in good supply. Eagles, waterfowl, terns, and gulls hang out along the river, and bears are fairly common here during the big sockeye-salmon runs in June and July. The Pothole Lake Fire burned 8,700 acres of forest, but now the old burn is full of shrubs that add up to a moose delicatessen; look for fireweed, wild rose, and raspberries. For more information on the Pothole fire and on fire ecology in general, check out the interpretive panels on the south side of the Skilak road at Mile 2.5, 0.1 mile west of the Lower Kenai River Trailhead. Special features: A forest and river hike, fishing.A popular 2-to-4-day traverse or a long, out-and-back day hike to 2 large lakes and an alpine pass in the Kenai Mountains. One of the easier overnight hikes on the Kenai, Johnson Pass makes a good, longer family backpack with kids who can carry their own gear. Think of it as a shorter Resurrection Pass hike without the cabins. There is good camping and decent fishing at both Bench and Johnson Lakes, which are less than a mile apart on opposite sides of gentle, alpine Johnson Pass. Steeper, cross-country hiking into the higher country from Bench Lake is excellent, though best in the first half of the summer before the brushy vegetation has grown up. The trail over Johnson Pass, first known to Europeans as the Sunrise Trail, was one of the Kenai’s earliest “highways.” Wranglers led pack trains over the pass, connecting the port at Seward with the gold-rush towns of Sunrise and Hope. The trail is one of the segments of the historic Iditarod Trail from Alaska’s gold rush era, and the hike today still follows some of the original sections of the trail. Groundhog Creek, about 5 miles from the north trailhead, was the site of an early mining operation; the original, bench-cut wagon road is still visible there. Special features: Alpine country, lake fishing, varied scenery.Historic buildings of the Kennecott Copper Corporation and nearby onceboisterous town of McCarthy sit beside the Kennicott Glacier. High above, on precipitous mountain slopes, mines once disgorged precious blue-green ore onto aerial trams for transporting to the mill 4,500 feet below. Abandoned wagon roads leading to three of the mines, Erie, Jumbo, and Bonanza, are trails into history. This hike description includes the following trails: Erie Mine, Jumbo Mine and Bonanza Mine.Juneau and Douglas line the northeast and southwest sides of Gastineau Channel. Paddling around the town docks is of only questionable interest. On the Juneau side there are huge cruise ships alongside the city docks or anchored in the channel. Things are more peaceful on the Douglas side. Farther down channel (southeast) on either side, the density of commercial operations and homes drops off rapidly, and you soon find yourself with a scenic shoreline.These tributaries of the Copper River are alternative floats for getting onto the Chitina River. The Nizina gushes forth as silty meltwater from the Nizina Glacier. Big water and waves are encountered immediately. The scenery along the Nizina is outstanding and there is good hiking in the upper river area. Folded gray limestone cliffs rise from the water, topped by lava and igneous rocks, with jagged peaks towering above. Sourdough Peak stands out for its unique rock glaciers-slides of rock mixed with ice that flow slowly down the mountain, creating the visual effect of a glacier.Short to half-day beach hikes just west of Homer. Just outside Homer, the beach hike between Bishop’s Beach and Diamond Gulch is a fine sample of what makes Kachemak Bay special. The bay is a National Estuarine Research Reserve, a designation that recognizes the bay’s importance as an intact, very productive northern ecosystem. (An estuary is a body of water where salt and fresh water meet and mingle.) Recommendation number one for this trip is to leave plenty of time for glassing the water for sea otters, seals, and seabirds, watching eagles and shorebirds, exploring the tide pools at Overlook Point and Bluff Point, and just generally enjoying yourself and the views along the beach. Rubber boots are the best footwear choice; exploring tide pools, strolling on soft, wet sand, and crossing tidal rivulets and streams are part of the package on this hike. Pick a minus-tide day for the best in tide pooling, and don’t forget the binoculars. Special features: Beach walking, mountain views, tide pools, birds, and marine mammals. Impassable at extreme high tides; best walked at low to midtide levels.With superlatives in scenery, weather, and physical challenge, Kesugi Ridge captures the diversity of southcentral Alaska backpacking on one route. The name “Curry Ridge” is often applied to this hike. This may be a holdover from previous decades, before Parks Highway construction, when railroad passengers would stop to hike to the Curry Lookout on Curry Ridge for the view. The lookout, an historic structure, sits on Curry Ridge, an extension of the Kesugi Ridge system, but there is no trail there now. Trending north?south between the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains, Kesugi Ridge offers miles of walking on alpine tundra along its broad, rolling top. This Kesugi-Curry ridge system is the central feature of Denali State Park. The hike comes complete with wee tundra flowers, outrageous rock formations, shining tarns, and tumbling streams. But it is not only an alpine ridge. The traverse drops into stands of beautiful old birch trees, open cottonwood groves, and spruce forests.While hikers frequently climb the mountains bordering North Fork Campbell Creek on its south side (Near Point and Wolverine), the peaks bordering this valley to the north are often ignored. Kanchee Peak, Knoya Peak, and Tikishla Peak?ascending in both height and order of difficulty? all make for excellent hikes, either from Stuckagain Heights Trailhead or from a campsite in Campbell Creek or Chester Creek Valleys. The mountains take their names from the Dena’ina language: Kanchee means “porcupine,” Knoya “beaver,” and Tikishla “black bear.” You won’t see any of these lowland animals on the peaks themselves, but keep an eye out for Dall sheep, marmots, and bald eagles.A 2-to-4-day high traverse in the alpine country of Denali State Park. Kesugi Ridge, a long alpine ridge across the Chulitna River basin from the Alaska Range and Mount McKinley (Denali), is a fine two-to-four-day backpack. It can be done in two days, but plan on three or four or even more to make the most of the trip. It’s a glorious 20-plus miles of alpine hiking in “real Sound of Music country,” as one of the park bulletin boards used to say. And yes, it is tempting to go bounding around singing “Edelweiss” up there. Many Alaskans think of this as the Curry Ridge hike, but Curry is the next ridge to the south. Kesugi, 2,500 to 4,700 feet in elevation, is a big raised block of earth between the Chulitna and Susitna Rivers, thrust into the sky by the same faulting that produced the Alaska Range and Denali. Kesugi means “the ancient one” in the Dena’ina Athabaskan language. The hike is challenging. Besides the climb to the ridge, there are several ups and downs of hundreds of feet while on the ridge route. Special features: High, wild country; ridge rambling; views of Denali and the Alaska Range.From its source at Kagati Lake (an Eskimo word meaning "the source") in the Ahkhrn Mountains in Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, the Kanektok River flows westerly for 85 miles to Kuskokwim Bay near the village of Quinhagak. Draining an area of 752 square miles, the river has an average width of 200 feet and a gradient of 15 feet per mile. The upper river flows through a valley lined with mountains; the lower river meanders in a braided fashion across a broad floodplain of flat tundra. Several fishing guide camps are in the area. Motorboats are allowed, so if you want a pristine wildemess experience, don't float the river between mid-July and mid-August, the height of sportfishing season. The highly scenic Kanektok is crystal-clear, gravel-bottomed, and full of fish. Like many other streams and rivers in the Kuskokwim drainage, the Holitna is a fly-fisher's paradise, with all five species of salmon, rainbow trout, Dolly Varden char, and arctic grayling.Rising amid the massive peaks of the Endicott Mountains in the central Brooks Range, the Killik River flows northward through an open, treeless, glaciated valley for 135 miles, where it joins the Colville River. The Killik's classic U-shaped river valley has deep blue lakes, sand dunes, large lateral moraines, and rolling alpine tundra. Dramatic 6,000- to 7,000-foot peaks surrounded the headwaters. In the upper river the valley is about 2 miles wide and offers good hiking. As the river flows through the arctic foothills, the valley opens up, becoming 3 to 5 miles wide. Below Sunday Rapids, fossils are evident in rock outcroppings. The river becomes braided several miles above its confluence with the Okokmilaga River, coursing swiftly through willow islands, then across broad gravel flats that create aufeis in winter.The Kisaralik is an exciting whitewater trip for experienced to intermediate paddlers. The Kisaralik offers diverse scenic contrasts--blue-green waters and rugged mountains of sandstone and shale; smooth tundra-covered hills and beautiful forests; challenging whitewater rutting through rocky bluffs; deep pools and huge, smooth boulders; narrow, twisting valleys that carry tributary streams into the river. Beginning at Kisaralik Lake, bordered by the snow capped Kuskokwim Mountains, the Kisaralik flows northwest 111 miles to the Kuskokwim River, 20 miles northeast of Bethel. A deep, clearwater river, the Kisaralik flows swiftly along a rocky streambed spiked with rapids for most of its course, with an overall river gradient of 14 feet per mile.The Knik River offers a short float on a glacial river. This wide, V-shaped river basin originates in the northern Chugach Mountains. In the high country, the watershed is born of glaciers and mountains, including Mount Marcus Baker, the loftiest peak in the Chugach Range at 13,176 feet. Flowing swift, cold, and silty out of Knik Glader, the river courses about 26 miles through the lower Matanuska Valley, in the shadow of Pioneer Peak, to Knik Arm in Upper Cook Inlet.From headwaters on the southern slopes of the Arrigetch Peaks, the Kobuk's 347-mi1e course lies north of and just about parallel to the Arctic Circle. This normally clearwater stream begins swiftly, flowing through tall forests of birch and white spruce for about 40 miles before joining an unnamed tributary originating at Walker Lake. Rarely is the upper 30 miles of the Kobuk floated; most trips begin at Walker Lake or below the Upper and Lower Kobuk River canyons. Below the confluence of the Kobuk with the Walker Lake tributary, the Kobuk flows into deep canyons, then becomes a broad channel that meanders through a wide forested valley. The Kobuk traverses some of the finest wild country in Alaska before emptying into salt water in Kotzebue Sound. Headwater lakes, such as Walker, Selby-Narvak, Minakokosa, and Nutuvukti, provide many choices for floating all or part of the Kobuk. Moving from the headwaters to the coast, the forests become thinner and the trees stockier. In the upper Kobuk (its name means "big river") and its tributaries, hiking opportunities are excellent. The trees are widely spaced and the forest floor forms a soft mat of lichens. The upper and middle regions are scenically spectacular. South of the river lie the windsculpted Kobuk Sand Dunes, covering more than 25 square miles, and beyond, the rounded hills of the Waring Mountains offer a contrast to the snow-capped peaks to the north. Downriver, willows create short, entangled, near-impenetrable jungle.Le Conte is the southernmost tidal glacier in the United States. Though not often mentioned as a major attraction in the literature, it is also one of the most accessible. The setting is beautiful with a magnificent waterfall nearby, a variety of seabirds, and nonstop views of seals lounging on floating ice blocks. In the background are impressive views of glaciated peaks, hanging glaciers, and snowfields.Originating in the central upland of NorthwestAlaska's Seward Peninsula, the Koyuk begins at an unnamed lake 140 miles northeast of Nome on the north side of the Bendeleben Mountains. The river flows for 150 miles, first in a generally easterly direction for 125 miles. Then, at the confluence with its East Fork, the river swings south, traversing tundra wetlands for 25 miles to the village of Koyuk on Norton Bay. The Koyuk drains about 2,000 square miles. The uppermost 20 miles of the river are within Bering Land Bridge National Momunent. Ridges and Mountains to the north, east, and south form a horseshoe-shaped ring around the upper and middle Koyuk and range from 2,000 to more than 3,000 feet in altitude. The Koyuk is a clear stream flowing across rolling tundra-covered hills and ridges, with land elevations along the river usually less than 50 feet except for occasional ridges rising more than 100 feet. Below Knowles Creek, willows, spruce, and birch appear along the river and the domes of Granite Mountain and the Bendeleben and Darby Mountains offer scenic vistas. From its lake of origin to Caviar Creek, the Koyuk drops an average of 40 feet per mile. Downstream from its confluence with Caviar Creek, the Koyuk drops 33 feet per mile. Here the river is about 30 feet wide and 1 to 2 feet deep. About a half mile below Knowles Creek, an illlllamed tributary comes in from the south, almost doubling the Koyuk to about 60 feet wide and 2 to 4 feet deep. Downstream, the river gradually increases in width to more than 250 feet, reaches a depth of5 feet, and becomes a slow-moving body of water.Lester Island provides the opportunity for a nice day trip or an overnight camping excursion that is close to Bartlett Cove and yet takes you into quiet and solitude very quickly. This is good bird-watching country, and along the shore you may see black bear and porcupine.Lutak Inlet and Taiyasanka Harbor provide scenic paddling at any time of the summer, but their main attribute is the opportunity to see a lot of marine mammals (sea lions, humpbacks whales, and orcas) in the spring during heavy fish runs.Beginning at Kroto Lake, Kroto Creek flows south through forested hills, flats, and wetlands to meet Moose Creek, forming the Deshka River. Kroto Creek meanders and twists freely across the Susitna Valley, roughly paralleling the Susitna River, providing paddlers an opportunity to explore a stream free of powerboats. Moose Creek begins at a small unnamed lake several miles east of Kroto Creek and flows roughly parallel to that creek for about 40 miles before the two join to become the Deshka. The upper reaches of Kroto and Moose creeks offer rolling hills and forested flatlands. The Deshka meanders southward with many shallow riffles and mid-channel gravel bars over the course of nearly 30 miles before entering the Susitna River about 8 miles southwest of Willow. For most of its course, it traverses rich wetlands.Draining off obscure lakes in the eastern edge of the Copper River drainage, the clearwater Little Nelchina River wanders south, crossing the Glenn Highway and continuing for several miles to join the Nelchina River, a swift and rocky glacial river issuing from the Nelchina Glacier in the Chugach Mountains. Twisting and braiding through a forested valley, with ridges rising above the river, and spectacular views of the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains, the river reaches Tazlina Lake 27 miles from the put-in at little Nelchina State Recreation Site. Tazlina Lake, 21 miles long, deep, and cold, is the product of the mighy Tazlina Glacier, largest north-flowing glacier in the Chugach Range.The Magoun Islands lie in a beautiful remote area not very far from Starrigavan Campground or even from Sitka Harbor. Here you will enjoy a lot of small bays and islands that are well protected from most winds and seas. There is an opportunity to see a variety of waterfowl. Sitka black-tailed deer are abundant as are mink and river otter. If you are lucky you may see a brown bear or two.Second in size to the Yukon River, and nearly paralleling it southwesterly to the Bering Sea, the Kuskokwim is one of Alaska's greatest rivers, draining 50,000 square miles. Several large tributaries drain into this mighty river, which flows 540 miles to the sea. The North Fork Kuskokwim River begins in the rolling hills of the Kuskokwim Mountains and flows 260 miles to meet the South Fork just above the village of Medfra. The East, Middle, and South Forks drain extensive silty flats. The South Fork flows 152 miles to its confluence with the North Fork. These forks are sluggish, meandering bodies of water, characterized by many oxbows. The main Kuskokwim River officially begins at the junction of the North and South forks above Medfra. From here the river is wide and meandering, flowing through forests of spruce, birch, and willow and across swampy wetlands.Because of easy road access and closeness to Anchorage and Palmer-Wasilla, the Little Susitna (Susitna means "sandy river" in Dena'ina) is one of Southcentral Alaska's most popular fishing streams. The lower river is a perfect paddle for novices who enjoy getting out into the wilds and doing some fishing. Full of twists, turns, and sharp bends, the river widens as it descends through the Susitna Valley. Beginning as meltwater from the Mint Glacier in the Talkeetna Mountains, the little Susitna, or little Su, begins as a clear, rushing mountain stream flowing through a constricted canyon over huge rocks and boulders, dropping at a rate of 160 feet per mile to the Fishhook Road bridge. It eventually slows to just 2 to 4 miles per hour, meandering muddily across marshy lowlands, and reaches Cook Inlet after 110 miles. The terrain changes from steep mountain and hillsides to flat and rolling lowlands covered with forests of spruce and hardwood. The middle section of the river, particularly in the Nancy Lake Creek area, is characterized by wetlands.Flowing out of 27-mile-long Matanuska Glacier, the cold, swift and glacial gray Matanuska River is a popular choice for strong intermediate boaters, offering a genuine knock-your-socks-off Alaska experience with its start literally at the terminus of a glacier. The Matanuska flows through scenically spectacular landscape. From the terminus of Matanuska Glacier, the river cuts between the glacier-clad peaks of the Chugach Range and the rugged Talkeetnas, through colorful canyon walls in the river's narrows, then flattens, spreads, and slows through the populated Mat-Su Valley, entering Knick Arm about 25 miles northeast of Anchorage. The river is graced by trees, including spruce and aspen in the upper reaches and rough-barked cottonwoods in lower areas. On autumn runs, the foliage is brilliant.From Chelatna Lake in the foothills of the Alaska Range, Lake Creek flows southeast 54 miles to its confluence with the Yentna River. Seven-mile-long Che1atna Lake is the largest lake in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley. A beautiful clearwater run, Lake Creek varies in width from 20 feet to 200 feet and falls an average of 25 feet in elevation per mile. A popular fishing stream, Lake Creek offers outstanding views of Mount McKinley, Mount Foraker, and the Alaska Range. After the first couple miles of placid water, Lake Creek becomes swift, rocky and wild.A short day or overnight trip to a forested lake. Long Lake, a skinny, mile-long lake, is a quick trip off the Forest Service’s Wrangell Island road system. Another Southeast hike where your feet don’t even have to touch ground, the trail is entirely planked and bridged, mostly across wet meadows, with two sets of log stairs thrown in for good measure. The walk also features a short section of dark, mossy hemlock forest and small, bouldery creeks. Special features: A trail shelter and rowboat, wildlife, trout fishing.The McHugh/Rabbit Lakes Trail climbs steadily through mixed forests, high grasslands, and open tundra to McHugh and Rabbit Lakes, two azure tarns walled by steep mountains. The trail starts near sea level and gains considerable elevation, but it does so at a gentle grade. It’s a manageable out-and-back day trip, but Rabbit and McHugh Lakes abound in beautiful (and popular) camping spots. Consider spending a night under the stars and exploring the lake environs the next day.Three main trails in the Anchorage area are considered part of the Anchorage Greenbelt: the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, the Campbell Creek Trail, and the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail, described below. This is another multipurpose trail that is heavily used throughout the year. The trail begins at the popular Westchester Lagoon and traverses toward the Chugach Mountains in the east. The easy paved path affords great scenery and a variety of wildlife-viewing opportunities along the way as it connects many major sectors of the city.A long day trip or a 2-to-3-day backpack to a large alpine lake in the Kenai Mountains. Lost Lake is an alpine lake 2 miles long, set at the edge of a huge expanse of alpine country. Long, low tundra ridges finger into the lake at several points, and many smaller lakes and ponds dot the low hills to the east of the lake. To the west, Mount Ascension looms more than 3,000 feet above. Good camping, fishing, and miles of alpine rambling are the big draws to Lost Lake. An alpine cross-country route to the west leads across miles of tundra, and Mount Ascension attracts mountaineers. Special features: Alpine meadows, tundra rambling, fishing, and one fee cabin near the trail.With its blue-black waters set below 2,000-foot walls of the Suicide Peaks, Rabbit Lake is a scenic beauty. Smaller McHugh Lake is just next door. The lakes make good destinations for an overnight or a long day hike. Camping is good, and there are several options for additional hikes and climbs from the lakes.A half-day or overnight hike up the Skagway River to the Laughton Glacier. The sight at the end of this trip is awesome: a five-fingered ice fall spilling out of a riot of jagged, dark peaks onto the flat ice of the Laughton Glacier. The glacier flows off the Sawtooth Range into a cold, north-facing valley in the upper watershed of the Skagway River, and it’s a relatively simple hike to see it. The trip follows the roaring river through a band of sweetly aromatic subalpine fir forest for 1.5 miles to the Forest Service fee cabin at Laughton Glacier. This upper valley, known as Warm Pass Valley, was the route of a historic gold-rush trail to Atlin, British Columbia. Special features: Laughton Glacier, subalpine fir forest, a fee cabin. The trailhead is a flag stop on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, not accessible by road.In July this is perhaps the most beautiful trail the Kenai Peninsula has to offer. Climbing through a hemlock and spruce forest, the trail emerges above tree line on tundra and flowered meadows. The area was at one time heavily glaciated. Now brilliant blue and green lakes fill every depression, reflecting the snow-covered summits of surrounding mountains. Lost Lake, the largest, is forced into a strange shape by the topography. Parts of the alpine portion of trail are accented by stands of weathered, gnarled hemlocks. The area invites camping and exploring. Water is plentiful. A few small fish populate Lost Lake, and marmots abound in the nearby rock slides. The trail is good for family outings and ski or snowshoe trips. There are two trailheads. The northern trailhead is in Primrose Landing Campground on Kenai Lake, and the southern trailhead is in a housing subdivision outside Seward. Lost Lake is halfway between these points. The following pages describe a traverse from north to south, as the views are best looking south, but hikes out and back from either end are grand as well.A long day or overnight hike to two alpine lakes. The McHugh Trail leads through forest, meadow, and brush into alpine tundra and lake country below the craggy Suicide Peaks. Great views, two lakes, and McHugh Creek’s alpine basin are the highlights of the hike. Moose, Dall sheep, grouse, ptarmigan, and bears frequent this wild valley. A grizzly killed two runners in 1995; the bear is believed to have been feeding on a carcass in brush just off the trail. Special features: Alpine tundra, mountain lakes, access to cross-country hiking.Lazy Mountain is a steep hike with a nice summit that lets hikers know they are finished. The Matanuska Peak Trail in the adjacent McRoberts Creek valley is somewhat easier but has a less distinct hiking goal. These primitive trails, with variations on the same fine views, are close enough to connect, and a loop trip is possible. Looming beyond both is Matanuska Peak, a summit for the truly hardy. The trails are suitable for children, although kids will take more time. The views are principally of the Matanuska Valley farming district, the silver waters of Cook Inlet, and Pioneer Peak jutting above the Knik River. The lower portions of both trails wind through tall grass, which, even on a clear day, may be wet with dew, so take rain pants. Wildflowers abound; new species introduce themselves with every hundred feet of elevation gained, culminating on the Lazy Mountain ridge crest and at the upper end of McRoberts Creek in minute lichens, with brilliant pinhead-sized sporangia, clinging to the rocks. Three hike variations and the Matanuska Peak climbing routes are described here. Lazy Mountain Recreation Area also offers winter skiing and hiking opportunities.This hike follows a wide, mainly level path through a mixed spruce-birch forest with views of the Eagle River and surrounding mountains. Wildflowers and beautiful vegetation abound. However, this trail’s biggest attraction is South Fork Eagle River Falls, probably one of the most striking falls in the entire area.The McHugh Lake Trail traverses in a northeasterly direction along the McHugh Creek Valley and parallel with McHugh Creek, finally ending at two pristine alpine lakes?Rabbit and McHugh. This excellent full-day hike guarantees outstanding scenic views of Turnagain Arm and Cook Inlet, mountain peaks, glacially carved valleys, mature forests, wildflowers, and Alaskan wildlife.Half-day to overnight hikes to the high country and peaks of the Chugach Mountains “front range” outside Palmer. Lazy Mountain (3,720 feet) and Matanuska Peak (6,119 feet) are the prominent peaks east of Palmer. Lazy Mountain is the rounded peak nearer town, and Mat Peak is the tall, stately peak behind it. A trail leads to each summit, and it’s possible to connect the two trails for a very long high-country adventure just a stone’s throw from Palmer. These trails are a bit rough. Lazy Mountain is extremely steep in places and can be very slick when wet. The lower 2.5 miles of the Mat Peak Trail are thick with tall grasses and cow parsnip by late summer, and if the vegetation is wet even with dew, you’ll be soaked to the neck if you don’t have rain gear on. Watch for cow parsnip and stinging nettle on both trails; long pants are a good idea. Special features: High ridges and peaks, fine views, wildflower meadows.This hike follows a wide, easy path. The trail is mainly level and travels through a mixed spruce and birch forest with views of the Eagle River and surrounding mountains. Wildflowers and other beautiful vegetation make this hike a nice weekend jaunt with the family. However, the biggest attraction of this trail is the South Fork Eagle River Falls, located at approximately mile 3.0. These impressive falls, probably one of the most striking falls in the entire area, make this hike well worth doing.Rising in a great massif from McHugh Creek Valley, McHugh Peak is not so much a distinct mountain as a 5-mile long ridge punctuated by craggy pinnacles. Though it borders south Anchorage, it lacks both the ease of access and the crowds you’ll find at neighboring Flattop Mountain. Getting to the ridge crest involves a tiring climb, but easy walking atop the ridge?which overlooks South Anchorage and Turnagain Arm?rewards the effort.With Denali (Mount McKinley) and the Alaska Range dominating the view, a float down this section of the swift, powerful Susima is a pleasure. Ten miles into the trip that begins at Gold Creek, Curry Ridge rises on the west side of the river between the Parks Highway and the Alaska Range. Be sure to take the far left channel above Talkeetna if you want to go ashore at Talkeetna. The Susitna is highly braided, with many shallow riffles and sweepers. A cold, glacial river, it cannot be taken lightly. Paddle carefully, and enjoy the scenery.A short day or overnight hike to a large rain-forest lake with a fee cabin and an old mine site. The McKinley Lake hike can be a wet one, but if you want to spend the night, there is a dry cabin waiting for you at the lake. There is also a cabin just off the road, only 250 feet from the trailhead; both are available through the Forest Service reservation and- fee system. Campsites are very limited. The trail meets the shoreline of McKinley Lake in just two places: the southern lobe of the lake at Mile 1, and the cove at the upper end of the lake by the McKinley Lake Cabin. The cabin is nestled into the woods just above the lake. This end of the lake is full of spawning red salmon by late July, and bears may be nearby looking for a fish dinner. Beyond the cabin is all that’s left of the Lucky Strike Mine, which must have been named before the results were in. Though over 100 claims were staked and about $200,000 spent on development, the mine yielded only sixteen ounces of gold and nine ounces of silver. Rusting machinery, pipe, tram track, and a collapsed tunnel are the most obvious evidence of the mine. Faint paths branch back into the forest where the mine once operated, but take care exploring around the shafts, and don’t drink any water from the mine area?it may be contaminated with heavy metals. Special features: Fishing, spawning salmon, a historic mine, and 2 fee cabins.The Mendenhall, with incredible views of the Mendenhall Glacier and the Juneau Icefield, is a popular spot for Juneau residents to hone their whitewater technique in the spring and summer and for cruise ship passengers visiting Juneau. Originating in Mendenhall Lake about 10 miles west of Juneau, the Mendenhall River flows southward about 5 miles, emptying into the Gastineau Channel. Mendenhall Glacier sits at the head of the lake and, with a 7,000-foot-high spine of Mountains and the Jillleau Icefield rising steeply above, offers a dramatic backdrop to the lake and river.The Melozitna provides an excellent float for a family or for those who want to take a long trip in a remote, rarely traveled region of abundant wildlife, where you're likely to encounter few or no other people. The Melozitna flows out of the Ray MountainS and meanders in a southwesterly direction for 270 miles before entering the Yukon River opposite the village of Ruby. Clear and free-flowing, the river is slow and winding, except for the lowest section where it flows through a canyon.A network of trails around Syncline Mountain provides access into the backcountry of the Talkeetna Mountains, inhabited primarily by caribou, sheep, miners, and?during the last part of summer?hunters. Two different trips are possible, a circumnavigation of Syncline Mountain and a steep but otherwise straightforward traverse over it. In late June, watch for the Nelchina caribou herd migration through this area. And look for sheep, black bears, grizzlies, coyotes, wolves, and other wildlife any time. In season, there are blueberries and the gamut of Alaska wildflowers. Both trips are rugged and require routefinding skills and backcountry experience.The Middle Fork Koyukuk offers an interesting journey through historic gold mining country on a river that is accessible by road. The trip is suitable for families well-practiced in wilderness camping and makes a nice combination road and wilderness vacation. From beginnings in limestone mountains on the south side of the Arctic Divide, the headwaters of two rivers, the Bettles and the Dietrich, meet to become the Middle Fork Koyukuk about 30 miles south of the Arctic Divide. "Where the 3-to 4-mile-wide glacial valleys of the Bettles and the Dietrich meet to form the Middle Fork, the gray limestone peaks of Wiehl Mountain and Sukakpak Mountain rise precipitously above low hills.This popular family trail starts out on a gravel road that heads uphill and then levels out to travel through a segment of thick alders before climbing above the tree line. The easy-tofollow trail provides good views of the town of Eagle River and Eagle River Valley.A wealth of trails cover the western Chugach foothills, perfect for days when the time or energy for a longer hike is lacking. Lying on the outskirts of Anchorage, these trails are mostly flat and keep to forested lowlands, offering any number of quiet afternoon rambles. Though popular with locals, especially for skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, the trails are hardly crowded. Start from any of the trailheads mentioned below and design a loop to suit your ambition. Keep track of your way back to your trailhead, since not all trails are well-marked. There are several smaller trails in the area and still more in the Municipality of Anchorage Far North Bicentennial Park, northwest of Prospect Heights. What follows is not a complete listing, only the major trails in this extensive network.Mount Eklutna and Bear Mountain, tiered hills above the town of Peters Creek, sit at the tip of a ridge stretching from the heart of the park like emissaries to civilization. Neither mountain is heavily traveled, yet both are easily reached. The Mount Eklutna Trail meanders through a lupine-filled meadow, then climbs a sculpted ridge to the summit. Bear Mountain is a shorter but less pleasant hike, steep and eroded in some sections. Nevertheless, it sees a steady trickle of locals eager to visit the peak towering so dramatically above their community.A half-day to longer day loop hike in the subalpine country of Campbell Creek. The Middle Fork Loop Trail is a fine Chugach Mountain sampler, taking in spruce/birch forest, the range’s infamous subalpine brush zone, singing clear-water creeks, wildflower meadows, a hint of alpine tundra, copses of gnarled, wind-beaten mountain hemlocks, and views of dark, craggy peaks. The trip connects the Prospect Heights and Glen Alps Trailheads, yielding some other hiking options. Special features: A Chugach Mountain sampler; a lower elevation and therefore good marginal-weather hike.Half-day to overnight hikes high in the Granite Creek valley, to Mount Juneau, and across Juneau Ridge. The alpine country of Mount Juneau, Juneau Ridge, and Granite Creek is a fine hiking destination in Juneau’s backyard. These hikes are all more difficult than the Perseverance Trail, with which they share a trailhead. The Mount Juneau hike, 3 miles one way, climbs a relatively short but very steep trail to the peak, at 3,576 feet elevation, which overlooks mountains, ocean, snow, and ice. The trail up Granite Creek, about 4.5 miles one way, leads into the creek’s alpine upper basin below the 4,453- foot dome of Olds Mountain. The strenuous loop route across the ridge linking Mount Juneau and Granite Creek can be 12 miles of alpine fun and beauty if you tackle it on a clear day. Special features: Alpine ridges and valleys, incredible views, wildflowers. Allow at least 10 hours for the loop hike.A long day hike or 2-to-3-day backpack to a high glacial valley in the Talkeetna Mountains. Following the valley of the upper Little Susitna River, the Gold Mint Trail leads to the river’s headwaters in the high basin below the Mint Glacier, an awesome landscape of waterfalls and serrated peaks. The area is popular with mountaineers, and there is good off-trail hiking as well. The Mint Valley is the big attraction of this hike; there are really no great intermediate destinations on the Little Su, although the river and distant mountain views about 4 miles from the trailhead may be appealing if your agenda calls for a less demanding hike. Special features: A rugged mountain and glacier landscape, mountaineering access.Homes and roads pile atop one another throughout the lower Eagle River Valley, pushing ever higher up the hillsides. Above this sprawl, however, is one of the most scenic ridge walks in Chugach State Park. An unbroken string of gentle peaks extends the length of Eagle River Valley, beckoning walkers of all abilities. The hardest part of the hike is finding the pint-sized trailhead. It’s tucked halfway up the hillside, only minutes from downtown Eagle River.This beautiful area is still one of Alaska’s secrets. The most famous?and therefore most popular?places within Misty Fjords National Monument are Rudyerd Bay and Walker Cove. But don’t overlook the rest of the area. There is a lot of scenic grandeur in other inlets and bays that few of Misty’s visitors ever find. Most of Misty Fjords is remote and wild country, a haven for ducks, brown and black bear, Sitka deer, mink, river otters, and in a few places, moose. Humpbacks and orcas, porpoise, sea lions, and seals ply the waters of Behm Canal and the inlets. The steep and sometimes sheer fjord walls are keys to the area’s scenic allure, but they also make camping sites hard to come by. It is possible to reach Misty Fjords by paddling to and/or from Ketchikan. However the round-trip distance to Walker or Rudyerd is more than 40 miles, and paddling will add at least two days on each end of your trip. Many kayakers therefore choose to use one of the delivery and pickup services from Ketchikan.In 1915, a bet in Seward started a race up Mount Marathon that is still repeated every Fourth of July. Back then, there was no Seward Highway, no city of Anchorage, and railroad construction was just beginning, but there was a Mount Marathon race. The runners in this mountain marathon start from the town center near sea level, climb to Race Point (elevation 3,022 feet on the southeast ridge of Marathon Mountain), and return. The record is 43 minutes, 11 seconds, set in 1981 by Bill Spencer. Independence Day is the most exciting time to make the climb, whether you are in the race or not, but it is a good hike anytime during the summer. A hikers’ trail and the runners’ trail climb toward Race Point, although the hikers’ trail has easier destinations as well. The hikers’ trail is steep, the runners’ trail steeper. Fortunately, both provide spectacular views of Resurrection Bay, giving a ready excuse to pause. You may choose to go up the hikers’ trail and down the runners’ trail; the two lower ends are within easy walking distance.A long day or overnight traverse through mid-elevation country to a forested lake, or a short day/overnight hike to the lake from the nearer trailhead. The trip from the Montana Creek Trailhead to Windfall Lake, the only overnight trail traverse near Juneau, features lush forest, pretty creeks, meadows and wetlands, and half-mile-long Windfall Lake. The best camping is at the northwest end of Windfall Lake, which is an easy, popular hike from the north trailhead and a good family overnight trip. There is a Forest Service fee cabin on the northeast shore of the lake. The trail is planked across wet sections. Special features: A creek walk, forests, wetlands, a large lake, fishing, and a fee cabin. Windfall Lake is a good family trip.Highpoint rank by height: 1st. Mount McKinley is the "Great One" ? Denali, as the Athabasca Indians call it. Denali is the "mother" of all the 50 state summits. If you like to freeze your buns off, be subjected to jet stream winds, drag heavy loads around behind you for days, sleep in cramped quarters with a bunch of other stinking human beings and generally stress yourself out, then Denali is the place for you! Charlie spent two birthdays in a row (not on the same trip) climbing on Denali. One year he was on the West Rib Route and the next year he was on the West Buttress Route. His team's motto was "No brain, no pain." At least that was the suggestion of Denali team member Randy "Rat Lips" Murphy. Yes, you can expect to be cold, as cold as you've ever been. If you go in early May, temperatures of -40 degree F with wind speeds of 100 mph can routinely be experienced on the upper mountain. Compute the wind chill on those figures! Go later in the season and the weather is warmer but it snows a lot more and those crevasses become absolutely awesome in size. Guess you can't call them "crevices" any longer. Climbing Denali can be a very rewarding and demanding experience. It is probably the biggest and highest mountain that most folks will ever attempt to climb. It has been said that climbing to the summit of Denali is like reaching the summit of a 23,000 ft. (7,010 m) Himalayan peak. This is due in part to the lower barometric pressure experienced in the Alaska Range which is farther from the equator. Combine this with the fact that you can expect your mental faculties to be reduced by as much as 50% as you climb over 19,000 feet (5,791 m). All in all, it makes for an interesting adventure. Still determined to go? It is beyond the scope of this book to delve into all the subject matter relating to high altitude expeditionary mountaineering. Questions such as mode of travel using skis or snowshoes, hauling gear using a sled or drag bag and all of the medical problems associated with high altitude and extreme cold need to be researched and understood by each individual team member. You are responsible for your own safety and expertise. A climb of Denali is not to be taken lightly. You must be physically and psychologically prepared to endure the hardships associated with this type of a climb. This sure isn't Mt. Sunflower!The historic Chena Hot Springs Resort is home to an impressive array of trails. The Monument Creek Trail is an easy hike that wraps around a small creek and links most other trailheads at the resort. The 3-mile loop can be extended or shortened with a mile-long interpretive Nature Trail, where year-round dogsled teams tour.A half-day to long day hike to the high point on the Chilkat Peninsula south of Haines. Mount Riley, at 1,760 feet elevation, is the highest point on the Chilkat Peninsula. The peak, a rock outcrop in a sea of forest, offers sweeping views of Haines, Chilkat and Chilkoot Inlets, Taiya Inlet, and Lynn Canal, and the glaciated mountains all around. The Mount Riley Trail from Mud Bay Road is the shortest and most direct route to the top. The Battery Point/Riley Summit Trail from Beach Road is slightly longer, but it’s also more varied and scenic. Special features: Forest hiking, summit views, a side trip to the coast.Visit Mount Alyeska and you’ll find a touch of the Swiss Alps: a chalet, complete with a four-star restaurant, sits halfway up the mountain. You can either reach it the old-fashioned way (on foot), or hitch a lift on the Alyeska Tram and enjoy a graceful ride high above the ski slopes. From the chalet, take a short walk to a small glacier or spend an afternoon climbing Alyeska’s southwestern ridge. Whether you walk or ride up the mountain, the tram (which is free on the way down) makes for a scenic and speedy descent.A long day hike or 2-to-3-day backpack on the alpine ridge just north of Haines. Mount Ripinsky, the peak at the top of the vertical rock wall north of Haines, is the first of a string of alpine summits in the Takshanuk Mountains, which divide the Chilkat and Chilkoot River watersheds. The hike, a ridge ramble taking in Ripinsky, Peak 3,920, and 7 Mile Saddle, is the only high-elevation trail trip near Haines. It’s a beauty, with glorious views of wild peaks and valleys, ocean on two sides, and the broad, gray Chilkat River as it empties into the Pacific. This fine trail was conceived and built primarily by local volunteers. Special features: An alpine ridge hike, sweeping views. Allow at least 8 to 10 hours for the day hike across the ridge.Mount Williwaw, partially tucked from view behind closer peaks, looks unremarkable from Anchorage. Yet it’s the highest of the mountains rising behind the city, a massive pyramid whose true dominance over the landscape is best measured from its summit. This route is not easy, involving a long approach and the negotiation of a steep gully. It can be climbed from Glen Alps in a long day or as a challenging side trip for backpackers camped at the Williwaw Lakes.Muir Inlet is one of the most attractive parts of Glacier Bay. Only a few cruise ships visit this area, and in some parts of the East Arm, motorized vessels are not permitted during the summer months. Most paddlers heading up bay do so by catching a ride on a camper-kayak transport boat to the drop-off at Mt. Wright, near the mouth of Muir Inlet. Doing so cuts about two days of paddling off a trip from Bartlett Cove and can be a significant time-saver when on a limited vacation schedule. However you miss out on the Beardslee Islands, an intriguing scattering of remote islands and solitude campsites. If you have the time, don’t pass them up. They are at their most glorious with wildlife galore between mid-May and mid-June. Trip Highlights: On this trip you see the complete vegetation and geologic transition that accompanies glacial retreat. Along the way there is the possibility of seeing black and brown bears, seals, sea lions, wolves, moose, and an array of waterfowl as well as puffins and kittiwakes.One of Alaska's most productive clear-water river systems, the Nushagak River drainage has origins in the jeweled alpine lakes of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. The federally designated Mulchatna Wild River offers paddling experiences from swift Class III rapids to a gentle float through pristine forested lowlands. From Turquoise Lake in the Neacola and Chigmit Mountains, the Mulchatna flows roughly southwest for 220 miles to its confluence with the Nushagak River, 65 miles northeast of Dillingham.Flowing from the terminus of the Nabesna Glacier on the north side of the Wrangell Mountains within Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, the Nabesna River moves northerly for about 80 miles to its confluence with the Chisana River, where the two streams become the Tanana River. The Nabesna cuts through a deep canyon-like valley before entering a broad outwash plain. The river is steep and swift in its upper reaches, gradually lessening as it enters Tetlin National Wildlife Refuge. Once in the flats, the Nabesna flows across an undulating plain broken by hills, forests of spruce and birch, lakes, and extensive marshes.The Nenana River is interior Alaska's most popular whitewater river, with thousands of cruise ship visitors and private users on the river each season, yet it remains largely a wild river, except for jetboat traffic on the Denali Highway section. World-class whitewater, a variety of paddling experiences, road accessibility, and proximity to Alaska's urban centers combine to draw paddlers to the Nenana. Beginning on Nenana Glacier at an elevation of 3,200 feet in the vicinity of Broad Pass in the Alaska Range, the Nenana River flows north 140 miles to empty into the Tanana River. Draining about 3,920 square miles, the river is swift and cold. Braided in some sections, especially the lower 30 miles, it cuts through incised canyons where turbulent and dangerous whitewater thrill the experienced paddler.Improved gravel road from Tok Cutoff to end in Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park; 42 miles (68 kilometers). This gravel road begins at the Tok Cutoff and runs through the wild northern reaches of Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park. Sport hunting is allowed within the national preserve north of the road, subject to state and federal regulations. All-terrain-vehicle use requires a permit from the National Park Service. The road is passable to all types of vehicles as far as Trail Creek, at Mile 29.4. Beyond this point, the road fords several substantial streams, and you shouldn’t attempt to cross unless your vehicle has high clearance. The streams may rise and become completely impassable in early spring and after rainstorms. Check at the Park Service ranger station at Slana for current conditions. The last three miles of the road into the privately-owned gold-mining settlement of Nabesna require four-wheel drive and may not be passable. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.For a short but outstanding whitewater run on one of Southwest Alaska's most productive sockeye and rainbow trout fishing rivers, the Newhalen does not disappoint It is one of the few rivers in the region that is accessible without the use of a charter floatplane. The sheer numbers of sockeye salmon that migrate up to its headwaters offer a world class viewing and fishing experience. Beginning at Sixmile Lake, the Newhalen flows southerly for 22 miles to empty into Iliamna Lake at the village of Newhalen. A large, swift, and unusually turquoise-blue river, the Newhalen is rarely run in its entirety due to waterfalls and difficult Class IV whitewater below the falls. The upper 11 miles, to Upper Landing at the end of the Iliamna Road, are a pleasant Class I paddle. If you decide to continue down the river past Upper Landing, pull out on the left side of the river at the sharp right-hand bend at Mile 17 in order to avoid a nearly river-wide Class V ledge. Then portage on a trail for more than a mile to skirt the ledge.Pinnacled and precipitous, O’Malley Peak towers above South Anchorage in dramatic relief. Wild and windy, exposed yet safe, and on the edge of town, the mountain should by all rights be crowded with hikers. But it remains a quiet place. Climb O’Malley in an afternoon or combine it with a longer trip to Williwaw Lakes. For a shorter outing, visit Little O’Malley, perched at the end of O’Malley Peak’s long western ridge. Much less traveled than neighboring Flattop Peak, Little O’Malley is a great climb for kids and less experienced hikers.A tidewater, river, and lake trail that can be done as a long day hike or 2-to-3-day backpack. The Naha River Trail features a saltwater lagoon, a fine river with rapids and waterfalls, good fishing, two lakes, and a Forest Service fee cabin with a skiff and oars at each of the lakes. The river’s lake-dominated watershed is one of the richest aquatic environments in Southeast Alaska, providing homes for a terrific variety of fish. Besides

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