Alaska

Hiking In Alaska

State in United States

With epic mountains, creaking glaciers, wild coastline, and untouched forests, hiking in Alaska is a dream come true for adventure travelers. This vast, sparsely populated state is a rare oasis of wilderness in an increasingly over-developed world, and an ideal destination for those hoping to get away from it all. Adventure travelers – prepare to be seduced.

Alaska covers a vast territory, stretching from the border with British Columbia in Canada, all the way to the Bering Strait. It is home to many national, state and local parks, all equipped with wonderful hiking trails, to suit all levels and abilities! From the fjords and glaciers of the southeast, to the grassy, expansive parks of the interior and the southwest, there’s something to suit all tastes. You’ll find high-altitude trails with epic views over snow-capped mountains, expansive meadows littered with spectacular wildflowers, rushing streams and serene lakes.

Although there are relatively few people in Alaska, this natural paradise is home to many animals and birds. Expect to see moose, brown and black bears, beavers, whales, seals, caribou and much more besides. A trip here usually means an encounter with some of these animals in their natural habitat, a rare opportunity that will provide you with some unforgettable memories.

So what are you waiting for? Start exploring this vast, beautiful wilderness today. We’ve done the hard work and put together our tips and recommendations for hiking in Alaska. Happy traveling!

Types Of Hiking In Alaska

Alaska’s plentiful national parks and vast wild spaces provide ample opportunity for hiking, with plenty of variety out on the trails. There’s something here to please everyone, whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a complete beginner, a solo traveler or a big family group. Many of the national parks contain low-level, easy trails that are accessible for families, meaning that you can experience some of the region’s fabulous scenery without expending too much effort. On the other hand, the national parks offer many challenging hikes, sometimes over rough terrain, which allow visitors to really get out into the wild and experience some of Alaska’s most remote spaces. These hikes provide a good challenge for fit, experienced hikers, and the rewards are certainly impressive: epic views and rare natural sights.

Easy Hikes In Alaska

Exit Glacier Hike: The Exit Glacier lies in the Kenai Fjords National Park, close to Anchorage, and this trail is one of the best easy hikes in Alaska. The easy, accessible route is perfect for families, and leads you to a spectacular viewing point for the glacier itself, which pours from the Harding Icefield. This magical spot provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to learn about the geology and wildlife of the region, with informative panels along the path.

Family Hikes In Alaska

Byron Glacier Hike: This short hike is one of the best family hikes in Alaska, providing fabulous views of Byron Glacier along the Byron Creek. The trail is easy and accessible, passing through lush forests until you come to the glacier itself. Older children may enjoy the scramble up to the natural ice caves and the permanent snowfield, but this is optional. This hike offers a fun afternoon out for the whole family!

Day Hikes In Alaska

Flattop Mountain Hike: If you’re looking for a challenging day hike close to Anchorage, try this wonderful route to Flattop Mountain. The trail is fairly short, but the climb is steep and tricky in places – you’ll need to use your hands. However, the rewards are incomparable. It’s easy to see why the Flattop Mountain Hike is a favorite among the Anchorage locals!

Challenging Hikes In Alaska

Hope Point Hike: The challenging route to the top of Hope Point is one of the most rewarding hikes in the region, and a great way to experience some of Alaska’s finest scenery. The trail is somewhat exposed, so you’ll need to pick a day with fine weather, but the breathtaking views from the summit will make all the effort worthwhile. You’ll have a stunning vista over Resurrection Creek Valley, Turnagain Arm, Fire Island and the Cook Inlet, and make sure to keep your eyes open, as you may even catch a glimpse of a Beluga whale!

Best Hikes In Alaska

Portage Pass and Lake Hike: If you’re looking for stunning views, a high mountain pass and a glimpse of a glacier, look no further than the Portage Pass and Lake hike! This moderate trail is a pleasure to hike along, and you’ll pass through lush greenery before coming to a craggy pass with a fabulous panorama over Portage Lake and the neighboring mountains. The nearby Whitter village is also an excellent place to pick up some wild Alaskan salmon!

Harding Icefield Hike: This spectacular hike is one of our favorite challenging hikes in Alaska, and takes you through some of the most incredible landscapes in the region. The trail is an extension of the Exit Glacier hike, passing through alpine meadows and craggy, bushy terrain before reaching the Harding Icefield. This is a dramatic sight, providing an endless vista of sparkling ice, pouring inch by inch into over 30 separate glaciers. A truly breathtaking hike, which showcases Alaska at its best.

Crow Pass Hike: One of the best hikes in the Chugach mountain range, this Crow Pass hike is just a stone’s throw from Anchorage and offers wonderful views over Crystal Lake and the Raven Glacier. The trail rises above the treeline, meaning you’ll enjoy spectacular mountain views, and the path is well worn and easy to follow. A wonderful day out in some of Alaska’s best scenery!

Carter and Crescent Lake Hike: This family-friendly, moderate hike offers a magical day out near Anchorage. The tranquil waters of Crescent Lake are the destination, and you’ll pass Carter Lake along the way, making this a varied and interesting trail with plenty to see as you hike. The highlight of the route is the beautiful, expansive view over the flower-strewn meadows, all set against a backdrop of snow-capped peaks.

Lost Lake Hike: This hike will take you through wildflower meadows and dense forests before finally reaching the secluded Lost Lake. You’ll feel as though you’ve traveled out of time – this atmospheric lake is a wonderful place to sit and contemplate nature. The region is noted for its wildlife, and if you’re lucky you may see ptarmigan, gray-crowned rosy finches, moose, or even bears.

Ptarmigan Creek and Lake Hike: Ptarmigan Lake is a long, thin body of water squeezed between dramatic craggy peaks, and this trail is a wonderful way to experience the lake and the creek that feeds it. The route passes through atmospheric forests, past brushy meadows and beautiful wildflowers, before opening up onto the lake itself. If you’re lucky, you may even spot some of the beavers that make their homes next to the water!

When Is The Best Time To Hike In Alaska?

Alaska’s northerly latitude means that the hiking season is typically concentrated in the summer months, ranging from mid-June to mid-September. However, although the season is short, the days are very long, meaning that you can pack in some long trails and plenty of fun backpacking adventures! This is also an excellent time for wildlife spotting, particularly in June and July, when you can expect to see bears, whales, and plenty of sea otters around the coast. Even in the summer months, the weather can be unpredictable, so it’s best to seek local advice and always check weather forecasts if you head out for a hike.

Some of the lower-level trails across the region are open year-round, although in the winter you’ll have to contend with restricted daylight hours, so you’ll be limited to shorter hikes. However, the winter months also open up the possibility of winter sports, and many visitors flock to the region for skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing.

Best Regions For Hiking in Alaska

Alaska’s colossal size means that there are many wonderful regions for hiking, although the most popular trails are concentrated in the South Central region, where you’ll find Anchorage and many of the most popular national parks. This beautiful region is rich in wildlife, and the Kenai Peninsula, with its glaciers, forests and mountains, is the perfect destination for hikers. The Southeast region is known for its fjords and islands, and offers fabulous opportunities for whale watching and off-the-beaten-track hiking.

Wildlife fans may want to head to the Southwest region, where you’ll find abundant fishing. Indeed, one of the best things to do here is to watch the bears themselves fishing for salmon in the Lake Clark or Katmai national parks. Hiking in this part of Alaska is a great way to learn about local wildlife, cultures and heritage. The Interior region is also full of gorgeous national parks with plenty of trails, and offers some of the best places for viewing the northern lights, perhaps even from the comfort of some hot springs! Finally, for real adventure junkies, the Far North stretches into the Arctic Circle, and covers some of the wildest, unspoiled and most remote territory in the world.

Other Outdoor Activities in Alaska

This vast state is a paradise for active travellers, and in addition to hiking, you’ll find plenty of other outdoor activities in Alaska. In the summer months, visitors flock here for extended backpacking trips, mountain biking, climbing, canyoning, kayaking, paragliding and even dogsledding! In winter, the region opens up to winter sports, with ample opportunity for skiing (including backcountry skiing and cross-country skiing), snowboarding, ice climbing, snowshoeing and ice fishing.

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Hiking regions in Alaska

Best Hikes in Alaska

Open details for Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain

Hard
6.1 km
403 m
2-3h

The Flattop Mountain trail is a great day-hike near Anchorage. Short, but steep this trail takes you to the top of Flattop Mountain with great views of surrounding Chugach State Park. This hike is very popular among locals and includes some fun, but challenging scrambling near the top.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Byron Glacier Trail

Byron Glacier Trail

Easy
4.3 km
83 m
1-1.5h

The Byron Glacier Trail is a great hike located near Anchorage. This hike is an easy, fun, fully accessible family-friendly trail that leads to an overlook of Byron Glacier through lush forest. Adventurous hikers can extend this trail a bit to approach this stunning glacier and get a closer look by scrambling higher to explore the natural ice caves and beautiful permanent snowfield.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Portage Pass and Lake

Portage Pass and Lake

Moderate
10.1 km
480 m
3-4.5h

The Portage Pass Trail near Whittier is a stunning moderate hike that goes over Portage Pass and leads to Portage Lake. There you will be blown away by the stunning Portage Glacier view and beautiful ice formations that exist on the lake.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Crow Pass Trail

Crow Pass Trail

Moderate
13.5 km
590 m
4-5.5h

The Crow Pass Trail near Alyeska Resort is a beautiful moderate route that leads to Crow Pass. You will pass by beautiful Crystal Lake along the trail and will be rewarded with a great overlook to Raven Glacier.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Hope Point

Hope Point

Very Hard
14.1 km
1,051 m
5.5-7.5h

The hike up Hope Point Trail is a fun and challenging hike to the peak of Hope Point. This route rewards with amazing views of Resurrection Creek Valley, Turnagain Arm, Fire Island and Cook Inlet.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Carter and Crescent Lake

Carter and Crescent Lake

Moderate
11.1 km
348 m
3-4h

The hike on the Carter and Crescent Lake Trail is a beautiful route in Alaska, Kenai Peninsula. This hike takes you to the beautiful Crescent Lake through the family-friendly trail along Carter Lake. The tranquility of this place is truly magical and the views of beautiful mountains, expansive meadows and sea of flowers are guaranteed!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Exit Glacier

Exit Glacier

Very Easy
2.9 km
81 m
0.5-1h

The Exit Glacier Hike is a beautiful trail in Kenai Fjords National Park. This trail is easy, mostly paved and very popular, and once you reach an amazing viewpoint overlooking the Exit Glacier, you will understand why. This place is truly magical and the massive glacier, that is pouring from Harding Icefield, looks magnificent.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Ptarmigan Lake Trail

Moderate
12.2 km
327 m
3-4.5h

The Ptarmigan Lake Hike is a beautiful trail near Lawing, Alaska. The path leads along energetic Ptarmigan Creek on a secluded path through lush forest. Once you reach Ptarmigan Lake, you will be embraced by the peaceful atmosphere. This location is truly beautiful and worth the effort.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Harding Icefield

Harding Icefield

Very Hard
17.0 km
1,162 m
6-8.5h

Harding Icefield Trail is one of the best hikes in Alaska without a doubt. Take this trail to visit the overlook to the father of over 30 beautiful glaciers in Kenai Mountains – Harding Icefield. The expansive view of endless ice floor above the clouds will take your breath away!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Lost Lake

Lost Lake

Hard
22.5 km
808 m
6-8.5h

Lost Lake Trail is a wonderful day-hike in Alaska that leads to the secluded Lost Lake, surrounded by meadows full of wildflowers and Kenai Mountains. This hike is not very difficult, but quite long. You can make it into a nice backpacking trip as camping near the lake is permitted in the designated sites. Also, this trail is one of few that are accessible all year long and cross country skiing and snowshoeing are popular in the surrounding areas.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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