Chugach State Park, Alaska

Beyond the foothills at Anchorage's edge lies the third largest state park in America - a half-million acres of some of the most accessible hiking, skiing, camping, wildlife viewing, snowmachining, rafting, and climbing in Alaska. Those of us lucky enough to live here feel the influence of Chugach State Park almost daily. The mountainous backdrop to Anchorage reminds us that, although we live in an urban setting, we really reside in the middle of a vast wilderness. The Chugach foothills are a beacon for changing weather, and resident wildlife have been known to wander into town. Chugach is listed as one of the top ten state parks in the country by America's Best.

Those of you who are visiting are able to discover Chugach State Park and take home memories of high alpine wildflowers, browsing moose, soaring eagles, roaring glacier-fed rivers, the howl of a wolf, unrivaled mountainous vistas, clearwater streams dancing through a mature spruce forest, and maybe even a glimpse of a grizzly bear.

As a resident or visitor, Chugach State Park is awaiting your discovery. Whether you prefer frontcountry trails, backcountry bushwhacking, one of our three campgrounds at Eklutna Lake, Eagle River, or Bird Creek, a visit to the Eagle River Nature Center, or just to gaze upon the mountain view from town, we at Alaska State Parks are dedicated to helping you safely enjoy your visit and most importantly, to ensure you have fun.

  Chugach State Park Hiking Trails
Eagle River Nature Center
Located 40 minutes from downtown Anchorage in the Upper Eagle River Valley, the Center serves as the gateway to the half-million acre paradise of Chugach State Park.

From a short nature trail loop to a 26-mile traverse through the heart of Chugach State Park, there are trails for beginners to advanced hikers and skiers. Open year round, staff naturalists and volunteer docents lead recreational hikes and daily summer walks, and host Kneehigh Naturalist, Junior Naturalist, astronomy and craft Programs.
Flattop Mountain
Anchorage's most-popular day-hike, this 3,510-foot mountain with its characteristic plateau summit holds excitement for both the beginner and expert hiker. The round-trip hike is just over three miles, with an elevation gain of 1,252 feet. Strong hikers can complete the route in an hour.
Good boots are recommended on this trail that starts as a gravel path but ends with a steep rock scramble. Dress appropriately and pack extra clothing, water and some food. Access Flattop via the Glen Alps entrance to Chugach State Park, use caution along the cliffs and be aware of falling rocks kicked loose by other hikers.

Turnagain Trail
Once a telegraph line corridor and part of a mail route before Anchorage was a city, this trail is a pleasant amble along the moody Turnagain Arm. Accessed via Potter Creek (Mile 115.1 Seward Highway), McHugh Creek (Mile 111.9), Rainbow (Mile 108.3) or Windy Corner (Mile 106.7), the Turnagain Trail traverse is 9. 4 miles one way.

Set aside five to eight hours while hiking up mild hills and across a plateau peppered with leafy trees and gurgling streams. Dall sheep and the occasional bear can be spotted along this sheltered trail, which has a high point of 900 feet and is excellent for novice hikers.

Williwaw Valley
Efforts pay off handsomely with this lengthy but scenic 14-mile round-trip hike. With emerald lakes shimmering in the shadow of Mount Williwaw (5,445 feet elevation), Dall sheep traversing the ridgetops and wildflowers wearing nature's cologne liberally, the Williwaw Lakes hike best represents Southcentral wilderness.

Accessed via the Glen Alps or Prospect Heights entrances to Chugach State Park, the trail gains 1,585 feet while running parallel to Middle Fork Campbell Creek. Expect to spend eight to 12 hours in a good pair of hiking boots, watch for moose and ptarmigan in the valley and remain self-sufficient. Plenty of campsites dot the Williwaw valley, and the hike works well as an overnighter.

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Chugach State Park in Alaska in one of America's Best top 10 state parks. We are constantly revising our lists as we experience and visit state parks all around the United States. So, if you feel we are missing one, please email us and let us know!