Hiking in Alaska is always going to be an adventure. Whether your family decides to conquer a hiking trail during the summer or the middle of winter, there is always going to be a little prep work on your part. But, hey, that is what you always do when you want to hit a hiking trail, even back home! So, I say you should embrace your adventurous side and tackle at least one hike when you decide to take a family vacation in Alaska. After all, there is no better way to see the vast outdoor scenery of this state than from one of the numerous hiking trails! There are even plenty of hikes near Anchorage, so you won’t need to leave your comfort zone too much during your time away from home.
This is one of the best hikes near Anchorage if your family is new to the whole hiking scene. The trail begins right in downtown Anchorage. And while it is eleven miles long, you can do as little, or as much of it, as you want. The trail is paved and has a gentle grade. There are also benches and picnic tables along the way, so you can stop to rest as often as you wish. I recommend sitting on a bench and looking out towards the water. Beluga whale sightings are common from this trail, so make sure you don’t miss any during your visit!
The Thunderbird Falls Trail is another easy one-mile hike near Anchorage. You will find this trail to the north of Eagle River. Your leisurely stroll will take you through a birch tree forest until you reach your destination in front of a two-hundred-foot waterfall.
The Byron Glacier Trail is another easy hike near Anchorage. Once you park your car, you can walk with your family down a one-mile-long groomed hiking trail. At the end, you will discover stunning views of the glacier and the nearby valley. If you are really ready for an adventure, you can wander up the glacier to the ice cave to do a little exploring.
This hike near Anchorage can be quite busy, depending on the time of year and time of day you visit. As your family starts to walk along this three-and-a-half-mile trail, you will quickly realize why so many people choose this hiking adventure. The views are simply gorgeous, so make sure you have your camera ready for all those photo ops.
One thing to note if you do hike the Flattop Sunnyside Trail. You must obtain a daily use parking pass for Chugach State Park to park your vehicle at the trailhead. This is common for any of the trails you want to hike that are within the park.
The Rendezvous Peak Trail is slightly over three miles long. This is a looped trail, so you won’t need to backtrack to return to your vehicle. The trail is moderately difficult, so it is best to make sure you are prepared with sturdy hiking boots and water. It is best to hike this trail from the month of March through October. The rest of the year, the trail is too difficult due to the snow.
One of the more difficult hikes near Anchorage is the O’Malley Peak Trail. This is a seven plus mile trail located within Chugach State Park. The best times to hike this trail is from the months of June through October. There is a river near this hiking trail, so you will want to be prepared for the possibility that you will get wet during your adventure.
If the length of the O’Malley Peak Trail is too long for your family, I recommend considering the Little O’Malley Peak Trail. That trail is only four and a half miles long and it is not nearly as difficult. And if you time your visit right, you can see a plethora of wildflowers growing along the trail.
If your family loves thrills with their adventures, you must do the Lower Winner Creek hike. The trail will take you through the rainforest until you reach a gorge. The trailhead is located just past the aerial tram at the Hotel Alyeska. This hiking trail is three miles long, but that only gets you to the hand tram at the canyon. You will need to use the hand tram to get across the canyon to Crow Creek Mine Road.
It is important to note that the hand tram does not open until Memorial Day weekend. Therefore, we must plan your vacation in Alaska carefully if you want this hike to be on your family’s list of adventures.
The Twin Peaks Trail begins at the edge of the parking lot for Eklutna Lake. At the two-and-a-half-mile mark, your family will be rewarded with magnificent views of the lake from above. At this point, you can either turn around and head back to your car or you can continue to hike to other destinations. If you continue north, you will have the chance to do the rest of the Twin Peaks Trail. And if you go to the east, you will find yourself hiking a ridgeline to reach the summit of Pepper Peak.
These are some of the best hikes near Anchorage that you will want to add to your family’s list when you are taking a family vacation in Alaska. Of course, hiking is only one of the dozens of things you can do when you are on vacation in Anchorage. So, do not think that you must spend all your time outdoors, unless of course you really want to!
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