Day Hikes From Anchorage

When people come to Alaska, it’s usually for the natural beauty of the state. Although most fly into Anchorage for a day or two, they quickly want to get out into the real Alaska to explore. Nobody comes here so that they can stare at the chain restaurants and under-funded government buildings. My hometown is little more than a stopover to…well, everywhere else. I love it. Few others do.

But how will you fill that day or two overlap?

Here are some of my favorite day hikes from Anchorage to help you pass the time.

Thunderbird Falls

For hikes, it’s about as easy as they come. Roughly one mile each way, the hike ends at a beautiful waterfall with plenty of gorgeous scenery on the way. The only downside to it is the mosquitos, which really, really like the shaded areas of this hike. But if you’re in Alaska, mosquitos are always a reality.

This hike is appropriate for all levels of fitness and is safe for kids 5 and up (there are areas where a drop-off on the edge could be dangerous for toddlers). It’s also only about twenty minutes outside of Anchorage during low traffic times.

Rainbow Trail

This trail is right off the highway, so it’s easy to do when you only have a few short hours to get in some sightseeing. It starts off relatively easy, but there are parts that involve some climbing and scrambling. Ergo, I’d recommend only doing it if you’re reasonably fit (as in, this isn’t your first hike) and you aren’t afraid of steep hills. On the plus side, you get beautiful views of the sea and the mountains the whole way up, and the little babbling brooks that you cross make you feel like you’re in the woods straight out of a fairytale.

Beluga Point

I’ll be honest, this one isn’t even really a hike. But it’s on this list because it’s so close to McHugh Creek and Rainbow Trail, and it would be a sin not to stop and snap some photos. The cliffs allow you to walk out over the water and get some gorgeous pictures of the mountains and water. Great for travel selfies, and easy to get to. Make sure to stop here to see the mountains, the sea, and to feel like an adventurer.

McHugh Creek

This is one of my all-time favorite hikes for the sheer amount of diversity that you see on the way up. There’s creeks, waterfalls, plenty of wildlife, and it’s far enough away from the highway that you don’t get any traffic noise. Plus, unlike the other trails, there are several routes you can take once you branch off from the parking lot. Each of these leads to different views and areas of the mountains. It is steep, but most people wouldn’t find it to be too terribly difficult. Just make sure to warm up beforehand and you’ll find this hike to be rewarding.

Of course, a day of hiking deserves a treat afterward. Usually, after a long day on the trail, I finish it off with a trip to Moose’s Tooth. I eat a whole small pizza by myself, one of the many reasons that I’m fit and fat at the same time. But hey, I earned it, along with the diablo breadsticks and a cream soda.

Clearly, we weren’t all meant to be models.

Until next time, keep trekking.



One response to “Day Hikes From Anchorage”

  1. Great article! Several times in the course of business visitors to Alaska who were here for a few days for training or giving sales pitches would ask about hikes just like these.

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