A Backcountry Guide to Hiking Alaska

A Backcountry Guide to Hiking Alaska

A Backcountry Guide to Hiking Alaska


Hiking Alaska is sometimes forgotten and ignored for its cold climate, distance from the mainland and six months of pure darkness but it has perhaps some of the most breathtaking views and hiking trails in the entire country. The hikes here are perfect for backpackers who want a new and unique adventure, with the same type of challenge but different type of scenery-including spectacular glaciers to see. So, get packing and remember to bring your jacket, because these spots are just waiting to be seen by lovers of the backcountry.

 Hiking Alaska for the Plants

If you want to see plants

  1. Primrose Ridge Trail-This trail gets its name from the wildflower that grows here, the Primrose, a purple flower that blooms here between July and August. Located in Denali Nature Park and Preserve.
  1. Nagoon Berry Trail-If you love the idea of seeing wild strawberries grow and want to try some native nagoon berries, then come to this trail in Gustavus. It is quiet, peaceful, and…delicious.
  1. Hatcher Pass- Within Hatcher Pass, visitors can find an abundance of colorful wildflowers       in the summer time. It is one of the best places to observe various flower types, take some photos, and go on beautifully lined hikes. Located within the Talkeetna Mountains.

Hiking Alaska for the Animals

If you want to see animals

  1. Toklat East Branch Trail- This place is great for overnight backpacking trips. The trail is relatively mild and you might get a chance to see grizzly bears, sheep, caribou, and wolves along the way. Located in Denali Nature Park and Preserve.
  1. Wonder Lake Trail- Not only is this trail a perfect place to spot some wildlife, it has magnificent landscapes and an interesting history as it was once used to access Mt. Mckinley
  1. Sable Pass- Also located at Denali Nature Park and Preserve, Sable Pass is an awesome spot to go if you are looking to spot wolves, caribous, and bears. Because visitors have been forbidden to hike in too far to this area, the wildlife has since flourished, and even the sign warning visitors has been chewed by a grizzly bear.

Hiking Alaska for the Birds

If you want to see birds

  1. Homer Spit Trail-Located near the Beluga Lake at the base of Homer Spit, the Homer Spit Trail is a smoothly paved trail for those looking to come and admire the birds along the estuary here.
  1. Talkeetna Lakes Park- Here is not only a wonderful place to hike and do some recreational sports, but also a place you can find over 100 species of birds. The trail here is 3.5 miles long and there is so much to see. Located in Talkeetna Lakes Borough Park.
  1. Tattler Creek- This place gets its name from the Wandering Tattler, a bird that was first discovered in this area. If you come for a trip, maybe you will be lucky enough to spot it yourself. Located in Denali.

Note: Alaska is one of the best places to catch the Bald Eagle, so wherever you go, keep your eye out!

Hiking Alaska for the Scenery

If you want the scenery

  1. Wolverine Peak Trail- The hike up to the top here might be a bit strenuous, but the views are all worth it when you get there. You can see Campbell Creek and Chugach State Park, as well as some plane wreckage from 1956 at the summit. Located a bit outside of Anchorage.
  1. Triple Lakes Trail- As you climb up the trail here, you will be able to see the most breathtaking scenery of the Nenana River and Yanert Valley. As you descend, you can see views of the three alpine Alaskan lakes that will you give you a true ‘Arctic’ feel. There is good wildlife to see here, too. Located at Denali National Park and Preserve.
  1. Crow Pass- This historical trail is not only a great overnight destination, it is the perfect place to see some amazing, picturesque sites. From waterfalls, to wildflowers, wildlife, mine ruins and even glaciers, you won’t be disappointed here. Located in the Chugach Mountains.

Hiking Alaska for the Difficulty

If you want something more difficult

  1. Upper Teklanika/Sanctuary River Trails– This is a good spot if you want a challenge because the trails are unmarked and the terrain is a bit more rough. However, if you are a bit more experienced and want something a bit more authentic, this is the place to go. Located in Denali Nature Park and Preserve.
  1. Rover’s Run Trail-This trail is one of the scariest hikes in the world, so don’t even think about coming here unless you are 100% up for the challenge.This hike isn’t dangerous because of the terrain necessarily-it’s dangerous for all the bears you’ll need to avoid while hiking it. Located in Anchorage.
  1. West Buttress-This is the most common trail for backpackers to take up the highest peak in North America, Mt. Mckinley. At 18,000 feet above the Alaskan Tundra, you better have some experience hiking massive, record-breaking mountains before even attempting this. Not only is it steep; it’s really, really cold, too.
hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.