The 10 Best Day Hikes Near Anchorage, Alaska
Last updated August 2022 | Originally written August 2022
Looking for some recommendations for great day hikes to take on near Anchorage, Alaska? Look no further, here are 10 of the best day hikes in Anchorage to check out that are either in or under an hour’s drive outside the city.
With sweeping views of the Anchorage Bowl from the top, it’s easy to see why Flat Top is probably Anchorage’s most popular day hike. This Anchorage day hike can also be linked in with several other hikes in the Glen Alps area making it a great option for a mix-and-match day hike.
The hike is a 3.3 mile loop with the very last portion being a bit challenging but worth the effort for the view from the top. Not to worry though, if you can’t quite make it to the top, there are plenty of great vantage points on the way up if you need to turn around.
If you don’t have your own wheels not to worry either- the Flattop Shuttle will bring you to the trailhead and back for $24 per person. Those that drive themselves to the Glen Alps Trailhead will need to pay a $5 parking fee unless they have an annual state parks parking pass decal.
Address: Parking lot, 13101 Glen Alps Rd, Anchorage, AK 99516
Rabbit Lake is a bit of a longer hike from Anchorage’s hillside at 8.8 miles roundtrip but nothing too strenuous with only 1,200 feet of elevation gain. It also makes for a great overnight backpacking trip for those that don’t mind hauling in camping gear to spend a night up here in the green hills surrounding Rabbit Lake.
For those looking for a bigger challenge, there is always the option of hiking in from a bit further south from McHugh Creek which involves a steeper ascent to reach Rabbit Lake.
Starting from Canyon Road (the Rabbit Lake Trailhead on Anchorage’s hillside) there is no parking fee but for those starting from McHugh Creek, there is a $5 parking fee if you don’t have a state parks decal.
Address: Canyon Rd, Anchorage, AK 99516
Another stunner accessed from Anchorage’s hillside, Williwaw Lakes is comprised of several beautiful lakes strewn throughout the Glen Alps. It’s a bit longer than Rabbit Lake at roughly 12 miles return, so it can also either be done as a long Anchorage day hike or as an overnight backpacking trip.
The easiest route to and from Williwaw Lakes begins from the Glen Alps Trailhead mentioned as the start for the Flattop Hike.
Address: Parking lot, 13101 Glen Alps Rd, Anchorage, AK 99516
South of Anchorage
Lower Winner Creek
Lower Winner Creek is a great day hike just outside Anchorage for beginners. It’s a well-maintained 3 mile (one-way) trail that begins from the Hotel Alyeska in Girdwood that crosses a gorge by hand tram and ends near Crow Creek Mine (can easily be done in reverse or as an out-and-back).
Note that the hand tram is taken off the cables in September and not put back on until Memorial Day Weekend, so if planning to do the Lower Winner Creek Trail outside the summer months you won’t be able to reach the other side.
Address: 1001 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood, AK 99587
Bird Ridge is another local favorite Anchorage day hike located on the Turnagain Arm near Bird Creek just south of Anchorage. It is a strenuous and steep hike at 5 miles roundtrip, but the views of Cook Inlet below are worth the effort.
The trailhead begins from the Bird Creek Parking lot which requires a $5 parking fee unless you have a state parks decal.
Address: Bird to Gird Pathway, Indian, AK 99540
South of Anchorage and near Portage Glacier, the Byron Glacier Trail allows seeing a glacier up close with a stroll in a beautiful valley. The Byron Glacier trail is about 1.6 miles roundtrip if going to the glacier viewpoint, though those that want to get up closer can continue further afield.
There is sometimes an ice cave here at Byron Glacier but know that this can be a dangerous endeavor getting to and only those with glacier traveling experience should attempt it.
Address: 1500 Byron Glacier Rd, Girdwood, AK 99587
North of Anchorage
Baldy is probably Eagle River’s most popular hike, Anchorage’s small community to the north. The hike begins from the end of Skyline Drive and is about 4.5 miles to the top of Mt Baldy and back. Those looking for more of a challenge to this Anchorage day hike can opt to continue further back beyond Baldy up to Blacktail making it into an 8 mile roundtrip journey.
Address: 12900 Golden Eagle Dr, Eagle River, AK 99577
Symphony & Eagle Lakes
This is a personal favorite and ends at one of the most beautiful locations that these Anchorage day hikes have to offer. Get an early start since this is a longer hiking trip starting from the Southfork Eagle River Trailhead.
The hike is about 12 miles roundtrip to reach the lakes, but it’s recommended to continue to the far side of the lakes and uphill to get a picture-perfect view over both Symphony and Eagle Lakes. The most interesting thing is that both lakes have different water sources, resulting in one looking a milky seafoam green and the other a Caribbean turquoise.
Note that there is a $5 parking fee at the Southfork Eagle River parking lot unless you have the state park decal.
Address: W River Dr, Eagle River, AK 99577
Eagle River Nature Center
For those that want to explore the beauty of Eagle River Valley and want a variety of options, the Eagle River Nature Center boasts several different walks and hikes ranging from simple under-a-mile walks along well-maintained paths and boardwalks to a strenuous 26 mile hike up and over Crow Pass to Girdwood.
The Eagle River Nature Center is located back Eagle River Valley at the end of Eagle River Road. There is a $5 parking fee and it is not a part of the state parks program (meaning the decal doesn’t work here).
Address: 32750 Eagle River Rd, Eagle River, AK 99577
Eklutna is on the far northern fringes of the Municipality of Anchorage but is one of the most gorgeous locations on this Anchorage day hikes list. For the absolute best views of Eklutna Lake, take the Twin Peaks Trail to the bench or further up onto the ridgeline to summit Peppermint Peak. If you’re looking to get a nice walk in and don’t want a steep incline there is also a nice path along the lake’s edge, but do note that it is shared with bicycles and Sunday-Wednesday it is open to ATV use.
The Twin Peaks trail is about 5 miles roundtrip if you go up the trail to the bench, but if wanting to get on the ridgeline plan for at least an 8 mile day depending on how far you opt to go. The lakeside trail is roughly 13 miles return. There is a $5 parking fee at the Eklutna Lake lot unless you have a state parks decal.
Address: 39370 Eklutna Lake Rd, Chugiak, AK 99567