From Harding Icefield to Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska is a treasure trove of beauty and wonder to hikers everywhere. Whether it’s your first time hiking in Alaska, or your tenth, you might be asking yourself where is the best hiking in Alaska? This article will introduce you to some of the loveliest and most exciting hiking locations anywhere in the world, and they are all found in Alaska.
Only 12 miles from downtown Juneau in southeast Alaska, you’ll find Mendenhall Glacier. It is 13.6 miles long, and is part of Tonga’s National Forest. With five mapped out trails of varying lengths and difficulties, Mendenhall is a veritable hikers paradise. Near the visitors center is a boardwalk where many guests get to watch bears catching salmon. It is no wonder the visitors center welcomes about 500,000 guests per year.
Named after US president Warren G. Harding, Harding Icefield is found in the Kenai Mountains, on Kenai Peninsula. This great Icefield is part of Kenai Fjords National Park. The hiking trail begins on the valley floor, and takes adventurers on an 8.2 mile round trip. This hike has a high degree of difficulty as a great deal of elevation is gained in the hike, and takes more than six hours on average; but those that make it to the highest point are rewarded with a stunning view of the valley floor. It is recommended that you come prepared with a camera, because you will not want to forget the breathtaking views you will find in Harding Icefield.
Kenai River Trail
Winding its way around the edges of the Kenai Lake, found in Cooper Landing, this 10.1 mile trail offers stunning views. Parts of the trail is above the turquoise waters of the lake, offering a great view for pictures. This is a moderately difficult hike, and bears are seen on these trails regularly, so bear spray is recommended, and be sure to make plenty of noise while you walk. The trail is best to hike from May to October and there are several activities offered. If you are hoping to see a great deal of wildlife, as well as some scenic views, Kenai River Trail is a great choice.
Just a short drive from Anchorage, Winner Creek is a fantastic hiking choice for both beginners and advanced hikers. The lower trail is much shorter, and is mostly flat, so that beginners can enjoy the eight mile hike without breaking their back. For expert hikers, there is the upper trail, which is eighteen miles and much more difficult. The upper trail is much more challenging than the lower trail, and it takes about a full day to complete. For either trail, hikers are encouraged to come prepared to cross both land and water, though the lower trail has a hand tram to take you across Winner Creek. If you are biking, the lower trail is highly recommended so that you can use the tram to get your bike across the water. The upper trail does not offer an easy way across the water for bikers. As with most trails in Alaska, bear spray is recommended.
Lost Lake Trail
Chugach National Forest offers thirty-three different trails for hiking and biking, and Lost Lake Trail is one of the most breathtaking among them. One thing that this challenging, 13 mile trail has to offer is a wide variety of different scenic terrains. It starts in a lush rainforest, which will give hikers a chance to see and listen to the diverse wildlife. From there you will move into open meadows, with nearby lakes that attract a great deal of wildlife as well. This trail includes a roughly 2,600 foot climb, so it is considered to be fairly high difficulty. Hikers are advised to come prepared for a full day, and bring safety items like bear spray and extra rations.
Alaska has so many trails full of striking scenery and lively wildlife, that it can be difficult to choose just one. Remember to come prepared, be safe, and take time to enjoy nature in all its glorious beauty.