side trips, adventures, etc
There are so many places to visit and adventures to have in Alaska. Here are a few of our favorites which are doable as day trips and/or 1-2 night overnight excursions from the Anchorage/Girdwood area.
Flat Top Trail – Easy hike with great views of Anchorage and the Cook Inlet.
Coastal Trail – Pathway along the inlet, everybody should get out to see this. Earthquake Park is a great launching-off point with a great walk through the landfall from the Easter Sunday 9.2 earthquake of 1964.
Kincaid Park – Daily driver for a lot of Anchorage residents with lots of paved trails and beach access here. Note: DO NOT WALK OUT ONTO THE MUD FLATS. Cook has a 30+ foot tidal range, the highest in the U.S. The flats are like quicksand and the tide comes in very quickly, so very dangerous.
Kenai Peninsula (South of Anchorage/Girdwood)
Kenai Fjords Boat Tours (Seward) – Whales, anybody?
Sunny Cove Sea Kayaking (Seward) – Just don’t kayak over the whales…
Lost Lake Trail (Seward) – Seven mile trail up to Lost Lake from Seward through several interesting environments. Sweet views of waterfalls to be had once you get to the higher elevations.
Alaska Sealife Center (Seward)
Exit Glacier & Harding Icefield Trail (Seward) – Easy access to a really cool glacier!
Resurrection Pass Trail (Seward/Hope) – If you have time for a few days this is an amazing trip! Not great for a day hike.
Gull Rock Trail (Hope) – This is a day hike. Five miles out from Hope with a great lookout towards Anchorage waiting at the end.
Whittier Glacier Tours (Whittier) – Even if you don’t go on a Whittier boat tour, the town itself is totally worth visiting. Old WWII base installation-come-city with the second longest under-mountain tunnel in America. Check the tunnel schedules, though, since it’s a one-lane road with alternating traffic every half-hour.
Begich, Boggs Visitor Center (Portage)
Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop (Girdwood/Portage Area)
Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center (Girdwood/Portage Area) – Tick off the wildlife sightings all in one place. You can also get pretty good angles on everything to make it look like you sew these beasts in the wild…!
Winner Creek Trail & Hand Tram (Girdwood) – Great hike for a couple hours of free time. Two miles to the tram from the Alyeska side, one mile from the Crow Creek side. Beautiful forests and several great views of gorges and rapids on Glacier Creek.
Alyeska Aerial Tram (Girdwood) – Ask for a Fizz at Seven Glaciers.
Bird to Gird Paved Trail (Girdwood) – Seen best from a bike! Fifteen miles from Bird Ridge to Girdwood at a slower pace to take in the views around Turnagain Arm.
Bird Ridge Trail (Girdwood/Anchorage Area) – Good day hike for the athletically inclined, not great for beginners or kids. The hike is about five miles out with about 3250 feet of elevation gain.
Rainbow Peak (Girdwood/Anchorage Area) – See blurb 1/2 inch above.
Turnagain Arm Trail (Girdwood/Anchorage Area) – Very mellow walk through the woods along ten miles of the Turnagain Arm. Best part is you can go out as far as you want and just turn around!
North of Anchorage
Arctic Valley – Twenty minutes out of Anchorage and just a short hike to some great ridge walking. Just hike up beneath either chairlift and follow the ridge back toward the Chugach range. The short lift is a steeper hike, longer lift is a shallower grade. Blueberry season will also be in swing; low bush blueberries grow all over the mountainside here!
Eklutna Lake – One of our favorite easy getaways… Eklutna is a giant mountain lake with amazing views and easy hiking. There is public camping at the end of the road and public use cabins along the trail that runs toward the north side of the lake (looker’s left).
Hatcher Pass (Palmer)
Reed Lakes Trail (Palmer)
Talkeetna – Want to see Denali without driving to the park? Pick a clear day and make the two-hour drive up to Talkeetna for some great views of the mountain and a taste of small town Alaska. The Denali brewpub and Mountain High Pizza are great lunch spots… Talkeetna Roadhouse has stellar breakfast if you get in early or stay the night!