Summer in Chugach State Park
Here are several ways to enjoy a summer day in Chugach State Park.
Hiking: Take a short walk on a paved trail, spend an afternoon strolling through the quiet woods or gear up for an arduous cross-country trek, finding your own route in a trailless wilderness. There's more information on this topic, later on this page.
Picnicking: You can picnic anywhere in the park, but if you would like a table and a fire, try the day use areas at Eklutna
Lake, Eagle River Campground, Bird Creek Campground, or McHugh Creek Picnic Area. More information on these facilities.
Bicycling: There are several old roadbeds that are excellent routes for bicycles and mountain bikes.
Horeseback Riding: is allowed in most of the park.
Riding ATVs: Small off-road vehicles are allowed on the Eklutna Lakeside Trail Sunday through Wednesday, and on the Bird Creek Trails below 500 ft elevation.
Climbing: For the serious mountaineer, there are many challenging peaks in Chugach State Park. The careful beginner can take on Flattop Mountain in an evening, or spend a day climbing Wolverine Peak. Most of the rocks that make up the Chugach Mountains are greywacke, a rock that breaks easily and makes climbing precarious. There are some areas where the rock is more stable, and you may see climbers practicing their art along the cliffs on Turnagain Arm. A pullout and short trail at Mile 112.1 of the Seward Highway lead to Boy Scout Rock, developed for trained climbers.
Glacier Travel: There are more than 50 glaciers in the park, many of them unnamed. Several large glaciers merge on the east side to form a large ice field that connects the Eklutna, Eagle River and Crow Creek drainages. Adventurers with glacier travel skills and the proper equipment can explore these wild areas. Contact park rangers for information about routes.
Boating: Non-motorized boats, or boats with an electric motor, can be used on Eklutna Lake, where they must be hand launched. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are permitted on Eagle River.
Fishing: Dolly Varden can be found in the spring at Eagle River and in the feeder streams at Eklutna Lake. Bird Creek hosts pink salmon in June and July, and silvers in August. A new fishery for king salmon has opened in Eagle River. Many other lakes and streams throughout the Anchorage area are stocked with rainbow trout. For information and regulations, contact any park ranger or The Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Berry Picking: From late July until late August, berries ripen throughout the park. You will find currants and high-bush cranberries in woodlands. Bogs and tundra areas yield blueberries, crowberries and lingenberries or low-bush cranberries. Beware of poisonous baneberry and red-berried elder, and the berry picking bears!
Wind Surfing: Strong steady winds and large waves produce world class windsurfing at the mouth of Turnagain Arm. The cold waters and strong currents in this area also produce world-class hazards.
Looking for Adventure?
Do you want to make a quick getaway into the high country but don't know how to get there? Are you looking for something new to do with the family? Perhaps you're here on business and want to escape for the afternoon and breathe the scent of sun-warmed spruce needles, listen only to the chatter of squirrels or the sweet song of a Swainson's Thrush.
The possibilities for adventure in Chugach State Park are endless, but the following are some good suggestions for getting started. Driving time is from "downtown" Anchorage. "Wild" hikes will lead you to solitude or contain some physical challenges. "Not-so-wild" hikes are those where you are likely to find other people, developed facilities or organized activities. For more information, see the park map and trail descriptions.
Wild/Under 2 Hours
Drive to Prospect Heights (20 minutes), and hike to Campbell Creek. Spruce forest, moose tracks. 2 miles round trip.
Not-So-Wild/Under 2 Hours
Drive to Glen Alps (20 minutes), walk to the Anchorage Overlook with a 360 degree view of the city, the inlet, and Chugach Mountains. Use the other trails in the area to explore the tundra and groves of wind-swept mountain hemlock.
Drive to McHugh Creek Picnic Area (25 minutes), park in the middle lot. Hike from Turnagain Arm Trailhead towards Rainbow for as long as time allows. Views, bluffs, spring flowers.
Drive to Eagle River Nature Center, (35 minutes), explore the center, join activities, hike the Albert Loop Trail to a glacial river (3 miles). Year-round outdoor fun. Call 694-2108 for more information.
Drive to the Bird Ridge Trailhead (30 minutes). Head up the steep trail (1.5 miles to ridge crest) for a spectacular view of Turnagain Arm. Spring wildflowers, Dall sheep, fall berries.
Drive to Eklutna Lake (45 minutes), picnic, explore the trails around the lake, or bike Lakeside Trail to Eklutna Glacier (12 miles one way). Telescopes for wildlife viewing.
Want to Climb a Mountain?
Drive to Prospect Heights (20 minutes), follow signs to Wolverine Peak, 10.5 miles round trip, 3,400 ft. Elevation gain. Trail through spruce forest, then open tundra. Great views.