Trip Finder: Alaska

Your favorite Alaska hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.
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Your favorite Alaska hikes—from dayhikes to weekenders to multiday trips.



DAYHIKES
WEEKENDMULTIDAY


DAYHIKES

WILDLIFE
Old Women’s Mountain Trail

Pack binocs and bear spray: You’ll likely spot whales and Kodiak brown bears. From Aviation Hill Loop Road, climb 1.5 miles to a lookout tower, then continue to the ridgeline. Scour Chiniak Bay for gray and humpback whales and the slopes of Barometer Mountain for bears. kodiak.org

FISHING Red Shirt Lake Trail

Rainbow trout and Dolly Varden bite in Red Shirt Lake, but northern pike are the real prize (they reach up to four feet in length). From South Rolly Lake Campground in Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, hike three miles south and cast Egg-Sucking Leeches from shoreline. dnr.alaska.gov

GLACIERS Root Glacier Trail

Explore ice-sculpted ravines, bubbling moulins, and blue pools on the Root Glacier on a four-miler in Wrangell-St. Elias NP. From the visitor center, cross lupine-covered moraines overlooking the blue ice, then descend a quarter mile to the toe of the glacier. nps.gov/wrst

DAYHIKESWEEKENDMULTIDAY


WEEKEND

WILDLIFE
Swan Lakes Canoe Trail

Glide through moose country on this 14-mile paddle in Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Put in at Canoe Lake; camp on Gavia Lake’s south shore. Day two: Stay alert for more moose (especially in spring, when calves frequent the shore) before taking out at Portage Lake. kenai.fws.gov

FISHINGRussian Lakes Trail

Symphony Lake’s stocked Arctic grayling are only a half-hour drive from Anchorage in Chugach State Park. Hike south and follow the spongy valley on a gentle uphill for 5.2 miles to Symphony’s shoreline (and campsites). Hint: Use size 0 or 1 spinners for a good fight. dnr.alaska.gov

GLACIERSHarding Icefield Trail

The massive Harding Icefield—the destination for this overnight—blankets the Kenai Mountains and spawns more than 35 glaciers. From Exit Glacier Ranger Station, switchback above treeline past the Top of Cliffs Overlook to the icefield. Pitch your tent on the ice. nps.gov/kefj

DAYHIKESWEEKENDMULTIDAY


MULTIDAY

WILDLIFE
Kachemak Kayak Route

See a zoo of mountain-meets-coast megafauna on this four-day, 45-mile epic. Paddle Tutka Bay to Black-legged Kittiwake rookeries on Cohen Island and 60-Foot Rock. On land: Climb 4.1 miles to Grace Ridge and 3.2 miles to Sadie Knob to spot bears and eagles. dnr.alaska.gov

FISHINGKing Salmon River Rafting Route

The fishing is wild and the river smooth on this seven-day raft trip. Fly outfitted (tikchik.com) to the unnamed lake 90 miles north of Dillingham, and float 60 miles to the Nushagak River. Cast with bead bait (resembles salmon eggs) for Dolly Varden and rainbow trout. dnr.alaska.gov

GLACIERSBomber Loop

“You trek glacier-clad steeps by day and sleep in huts at night” on this 22-miler, says Andre Kaeppele (right). Start with an 8.5-mile day along the Susitna River to the Mint Hut. Day two: A 1,500-foot descent to Bomber Hut. End at Reed Lakes trailhead on day three. dnr.alaska.gov/parks


THE EXPERT

Andre Kaeppele, the assistant trails coordinator for Alaska State Parks, says that hikers don’t have to stay on land to spot resident moose, wolves, and bears. Paddling trips are also a great way to view wildlife, he says. “You can see a lot of animals without disturbing them. Plus, you can get creative with your routes.”