Hiking in Alaska

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Hiking in Alaska

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Wed Aug 03, 2011 6:50 am

Will be heading up to Alaska soon for a week and a half vacation up there. Will be doing lots of things maybe including hiking, biking, rafting, canoeing, kayaking, etc. Anyone know some good day hikes around Anchorage? I have a few days there. Also in Denali I understand there are only a few trails around the park entrance, away from that there are no trails and you simply hike off the road thru the wilderness. Anyone hike there? Any good "areas" to day hike? I'm sure we'll be fine and have fun no matter what, but thought I'd see if anyone had any experience up there they wanted to share, thx.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby avs88fan » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:09 am

I was in Alaska last summer for my honeymoon and went on a short hike up Thorofare Ridge(Mountain) in Denali. There is a trail pretty much all the way to the top from the base of the Eileson Visitor's Center inside of the park. You have to purchase a bus ticket since they don't allow public transportation on the road. It was pretty cloudy that day but if you get lucky with weather, I'm almost positive you will have a great view of Denali from the summit of Thorofare. Another great hike was down in Seward, which is about two hours south of Anchorage. We hiked up exit glacier on the harding ice field. Amazing scenery on this one. Below treeline is like being in a rain forest with all of the vegetation and once above treeline, the ice field appears and the views are breathtaking.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby HikerCurt » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:10 am

Went on an Alaska cruise last year with friends and family, first week of Sept. At every port of call, I left the crowds, walked to a TH from the cruise docks and hiked a nearby mountain. They were all pretty easy compared to 14ers, got a couple friends to join me on the first ended up going solo for the rest. After the cruise went to Denali NP, it was fall color time (only 2 weeks long), did the usual tourist bus cruise and saw lots of wildlife. Early one morning left early and climbed Mt. Healy (sp?). It was a neat hike, I was the first to summit that morning, very few other hikers, fall colors, Dall Sheeep on the summit and views of the Alaska range (Denali, Hunter, Forsaker) when above tree line. Highly recommended - Alaska is breathtaking at every turn.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby SummitKathy » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:18 am

I was in Alaska just about a year ago. There are a few small trails around the visitor center in Denali. Most of them don't really lead anywhere significant. We hiked one called the Mt. Healy overlook trail. This was a great hike. The trail is quite steep in some areas, but has great views. The nice thing is that the trail also continues past the overlook all the way up to the summit of Mt. Healy. The trail is less obvious the further up you go, but you have a clear view of the peak the entire time, so it's pretty clear where to go. I would really recommend this hike. The views are great, and because it's a little bit more strenuous than the other little hikes around the visitor center, there are a lot less people. Plus, most people don't hike much beyond the overlook. Have a great time! Alaska is great. I can't recommend hikes around Anchorage since I didn't do any hiking there besides some nice runs along the trail that runs right along the coast. I did however do some hiking in Kenai Fjords national park if you want any recommendations there. PM me if you want any more info or some pictures of the hikes
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby TheKanes » Wed Aug 03, 2011 7:32 am

Very exciting! We traveled to Alaska in 2010 and absolutely loved every minute of the trip. We were fortunate enough to have friends of the family to stay with, get plane rides from, and to borrow a Dolphin trailer. We were in the Wasilla, Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula area. Next time we'd love to get up to Denali area for more hiking. We flew near there in the small plane, but no hiking.

We heard the Flat-top Mountains provide a good view of the Anchorage area. We never got to that hike.
Since we were near Wasilla, we hiked up around Independence Mines near Palmer, AK. Interesting but not too much "hiking". We also canoed along the Susitna River which was very quiet and provided lush landscape. We did a two-day trip and set up our tent right near moose droppings. A little freaky, but with no sightings of the actual moose that night.

We had an excellent hike up above Exit Glacier, the longer hike up to a cabin. We spotted several black bears, some in trees, some just hanging out. This isn't near Anchorage, but if you have the time, it's a great way to see a glacier up close and get in a longer day hike.

Will you be fishing for Halibut? We were able to go on 2 trips out of Homer to catch Halibut. We brought back 100 pounds- SWEET. We still have a few meals left.

Have a great trip and share photos when you return.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby geology101 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:01 am

Hiking near Anchorage? When you step off the plane you will see, as a backdrop to the city, the Chugach Mountains where you will find numerous trails one of which is the popular Flattop hike. There are trailheads all along the Cook Inlet toward Girdwood and the Alyeska Resort all within 30-45 minutes or Anchorage. My experience tells me that for a 10 day vacation it is better to concentrate on one region of Alaska rather than trying to see everything. So decide to explore the Kenai Peninsula, Denali, Talkeetnas, Wrangell-St Elias, etc, but don't try to do all of them otherwise you will find yourself spending all of your time driving. AK is just too big. The USGS has an office with a great map store on the campus of Alaska Pacific Univ.; there is also an REI with very helpful employees who could get you pointed in the right direction. Sea Kayaking out of Seward or Whittier have combo trips of hiking and kayaking. Someone mentioned the Exit Glacier hike - it is a good one as is the Portage Glacier hike near Whittier. My wife calls AK "Colorado on steroids" Have fun!
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby peter303 » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:24 am

Finding significant time to hike on a short first visit will be your problem.
Just catching the basic sights will consume much of your time.

Avoid spending too much time in Anchorage. Its just another city.
I liked the Alaskan Native Heritage Museum the best.

Spend a few days on the south coast and take at least one wildlife cruise.
Kenai Fjords out of Seward is one of the better ones.
You'll see more whales, eagles, puffins, etc than you could imagine.
Seward, Homer and Whittier are all interesting, but you probably have time to hit just one.

The other main wildlife tour is the bus ride through Denali Park.
You see bears, wolves, moose and lots of other animals.
The cheaper park bus is narrated and as good as the tour rides.
Try to get permit to camp inside the park somewhere, near a bus stop.
The entrance area is a tourist zoo.

On my 3rd trip I went up the Stampede Trail a bit, the start of the Into the Wild book.
(but not up to the bus)
Thats just north of Denali Park. Several of Denali Park rivers are same as in the book
but to the south.

Incidentaly most of the Denali mountain and views access is from south in Talkeetna, not the park itself.
This is interesting arts village off the main Denali Highway.

One nice thing is ample camping, including the center of most towns.
I just tossed a WATERPROOF tent and sleeping bag in my luggage and traveled loosely.
Last edited by peter303 on Wed Aug 03, 2011 10:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby mtree » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:31 am

I've done quite a bit of hiking in Alaska, and most of it within 2 hours of Anchorage. There are billions of day hikes right outside Anchorage! I'd start with Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park. It's a good warmup and short. A bit steep near the top along with some scrambling, but no biggy. A fall near the summit could be fatal. Other peaks around this area include Wolverine - longer and more involved - and Williwaw(?). Grab a map. There are enough trails in this park to take you - or drop you off - as far as you'll want to go. You could try the Suicide Peaks off the McHugh Creek trail on the way towards Turnagain Arm (south of town). Even go out to Alyeska and see what's available. Twin Peaks trail (north of town) is another option. Alot of peaks have little or no trail to the summit. Once you get there you'll see why! If you opt to go off trail you'll likely run into alot of undergrowth this time of year and plenty of wet areas. Not recommended.

Of note, Alaska is BIG. As a poster mentioned, it's a long drive wherever you go so you might want to stick to one area.

And just remember, you are NOT at the top of the food chain in Alaska. Be careful. Bears are in full fattening mode. Make plenty of noise when below treeline. August should still give you 17-18 hours of daylight for hiking! September could see termination dust at any time, so be prepared if you're going that time of year. Have fun! It's an unbelievable place.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby bergsteigen » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:37 am

I lived in Fairbanks Alaska for 5.5 years. A great place to visit, tough place to live.

There are tons of very short hikes around AK, but many many more long hikes. Denali NP isn't exactly a place to do day hikes. Healy Overlook is fine, but the only way to see the park is to either do the bus tour, or spend time backpacking. (Or get lucky and be able to fix seismometers within the park, one perk to my job). I preferred the Kesugi Ridge hike in Denali State Park over any hike in Denali NP.

Unfortunately I haven't fully cataloged my time in Alaska, I'm still way behind, but here is my list of various photo albums etc: Moutaineering, climbing, hiking & AK Life, Flights & Road Trips
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby 3rdwoozie » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:03 am

I lived in Girdwood, AK for years. Home town for the Alyeska Ski Area. My daughters still do. There are tons and tons of trails, everywhere. Just get out of Anchorage. They say Anchorage is the Gateway TO Alaska. The Kenai Penn is great for trails. Not much Altitude to deal with but still mountainous. But Denali is a hiking gem if you want to get away. But I liked the back country of the Chugach Range. Beware, the Mosquitoe is the state bird and will be your companion where ever you may go.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby Yikes » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:31 am

My experience in Denali (more than a few years ago)

Took the train up. Went to the visitor center to get the permit to backpack in the park. The park is divided into a lot of grids and only a few people can get a permit to camp in each grid (1 mile x 1 mile?). I didn't know "grid A" from "grid X" so just picked something not terribly far off the road and not too far into the park. I think it was called Mt Margaret (or something). Had to camp at the entrance until the next day (when the permit was valid). Mt Margaret ended up being a smallish hill covered with willows. I don't know how it defied the laws of gravity by having standing water all the way to the top of the hill... but it was a big mess. Everything got really wet (when doesn't it in Alaska), so we called it quits the next morning and ran down to the bus.

When we got back to the visitor center we found a "Guide to the Grid", which shows what to expect in each grid along with a handy rating (which probably said something like "avoid Mt Margaret").

We also took the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway - 4 day backpacking, a little harder than I was expecting.

Fun stuff.
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Re: Hiking in Alaska

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:28 pm

Excellent replies, thank you all!

How about any reccomendations on where to canoe / kayak / or raft? We're going on a guided adventure tour thing for 6 days or so that has lots of daily options (not everyone has to do the same thing). We loop from Anchorage to the Kenai peninsula and head up to Denali and back. We have a few days in Anchorage on our own. Any particularly good rivers or outfitters to connect with in that area?
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

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