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Wildlife Drive can be driven, but the best viewing is clearly on foot. The waterfowl and wildlife of the area are simply more approachable by foot. The scenery is varied, from areas of hardwood and pine to grasslands and cropland to marshes and the banks of the Chattahoochee River. More than 300 species of birds and 40 species of mammals have been spotted here. Trail Surface: Gravel road.The Alagnak, known locally as the Branch River, originates in Kukaklek Lake and flows west-southwest 74 miles before entering the Kvichak River and Kvichak Bay, which then empties into Bristol Bay. The clear, rocky, and swift twin sources of the Alagnak are among Southwest Alaska's most productive sockeye and rainbow trout streams. The Alagnak has several distinctly different sections, in both difficulty and scenery.No other region in North America possesses the mythical aura of Alaska; even the name ? a derivation of Alayeska, an Athabascan word meaning “great land of the west” ? fires the imagination. Few who see this land of gargantuan ice fields, sweeping tundra, glacially excavated valleys, lush rainforests, deep fjords and occasionally smoking volcanoes leave unimpressed. Wildlife may be under threat elsewhere, but here it is abundant, with Kodiak bears standing twelve feet tall, moose stopping traffic in downtown Anchorage, wolves prowling through national parks, bald eagles circling over the trees, and rivers solid with fifty-plus-pound salmon. Alaska’s sheer size is hard to comprehend: more than twice the size of Texas, it contains America’s northernmost, westernmost and, because the Aleutian Islands stretch across the 180th meridian, its easternmost point. If superimposed onto the Lower 48 (the rest of the continental United States) it would stretch from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and its coastline is longer than the rest of the US combined. All but three of the nation’s twenty highest peaks are found within its boundaries and one glacier alone is twice the size of Wales. A mere 600,000 people live in this huge state ? over forty percent of them in Anchorage ? of whom only one-fifth were born here: as a rule of thumb, the more winters you have endured, the more Alaskan you are. Often referred to as the “Last Frontier,” Alaska in many ways mirrors the American West of the nineteenth century: an endless, undeveloped space in which to stake one’s claim and set up a life without interference. Or at least that’s how Alaskans would like it to be. Traveling around Alaska still demands a spirit of adventure, and to make the most of the state you need to have an enthusiasm for striking out on your own and roughing it a bit. Binoculars are an absolute must, as is bug spray; the mosquito is referred to as the “Alaska state bird” and it takes industrial-strength repellent to keep it away. On top of that there’s the climate, though Alaska is far from the popular misconception of being one big icebox. While winter temperatures of -40°F are commonplace in Fairbanks, the most touristed areas ? the southeast and the Kenai Peninsula ? enjoy a maritime climate (45?65°F in summer) similar to that of the Pacific Northwest, meaning much more rain (in some towns 180-plus inches per year) than snow. Remarkably, the summer temperature in the Interior often reaches 80°F. Alaska is far more expensive than most other states: apart from two dozen hostels there’s little budget accommodation, and eating and drinking will set you back at least twenty percent more than in the Lower 48 (perhaps fifty percent in more remote regions). Still, experiencing Alaska on a low budget is possible, though it requires planning and off-peak travel. From June to August room prices are crazy; May and September, when tariffs are relaxed and the weather only slightly chillier, are just as good times to go, and in April or October you’ll have the place to yourself, albeit with a smaller range of places to stay and eat. Ground transportation, despite the long distances, is reasonable, with backpacker shuttles ferrying budget travelers between major centers. Winter, when hotels drop their prices by as much as half, is becoming an increasingly popular time to visit, particularly for the dazzling aurora borealis. This eTrail is a chapter excerpted from the book "The Rough Guide to USA." It is packed with information on this state including history, getting there and getting around, major cities and regions, and what to do and where to stay when you get there.From headwaters on the southern slopes of Iprugalet Mountain, the Andreafsky River and East Fork Andreafsky River traverse alpine tundra and rolling hills, then forests of spruce, as these clearwater streams flow to join as one river about 5 miles above the village of St. Marys. In contrast to the low topographic relief of the Yukon Delta wetlands, the Andreafsky and the East Fork Andreafsky offer intimate river travel through a broad range of ecosystems. The upper river segments are within designated wilderness in Yukon Delta National Wildlife Refuge, and both are National Wild and Scenic rivers.Paved highway from Dawson Creek, British Columbia, to Delta Junction, Alaska; 1,390 miles (2,238 kilometers). The final leg of the Alaska Highway traverses the upper basin of the Tanana River, a region of lake-studded lowlands and distant mountain ranges. Because the United States has not yet converted to the metric system, distances are now expressed in miles, and you should note that the roadside mileposts indicate the distance from Dawson Creek before the route was shortened by straightening out its curves. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.Poking out above the miles thick and miles wide Chena Hot Springs pluton are the uniquely shaped granite and basalt formations of Angel Rocks. Perched on heavenly ledges above the boreal forest, in the wildflower-ridden subalpine zone, the rocks are a dramatic sight. The 3.5-mile Angel Rocks loop is one of the most popular hikes in the Fairbanks area. An additional 8-mile trail leads hikers to the Chena Hot Springs Resort.The spectacularly natural and wooded University of Alaska? Fairbanks campus is home to dozens of interconnecting trails with a mosaic of combinations. Ballaine Lake is a small but well appreciated lake popular with both canines and humans. An easy 1.2-mile loop through rolling hills and airy birch groves begins at the lake trailhead and travels along some of the classic winter ski routes?which are grassy and dry during the summer.The Alatna River has multiple personalities over the course of its 184-mile journey to the Koyukuk River. Rising from clear, cold lakes at the Arctic Divide in the Central Brooks Range, the Alatna flows through the Endicott Mountains, the Helpmejack Hills, and the Alatna Hills in a southeasterly direction to its confluence with the Koyukuk at Kanuti Flats. The river begins in alpine tundra where the scenery is dominated by mountains, including the Arrigetch Peaks, and descends through dense spruce forests to lowland flats dotted with lakes. The upper 25 miles of the river, from headwater lakes, is shallow, rocky, and very fast. At times, it may be too shallow to paddle and will require that you line boats down. The next 15 miles adds sweepers and small rapids, with continued shallow, swift flow. Just above Ram Creek is a short section of Class 11+ to III rapids, which can be lined or portaged. From Circle Lake, near Arrigetch Peaks, the river deepens and mellows, meandering slowly enough to allow you to thoroughly enjoy the scenery. Below Takahula Lake, the river swings into great oxbows through the boreal forest.A short day hike to Angel Rocks, a group of granite walls and towers, or a long day or overnight traverse between Angel Rocks and Chena Hot Springs. The granite Angel Rocks shoot up out of the forest on the hillside above the Chena River, offering plenty of cracks and crevices to explore and good views to enjoy. The area around the rocks is a pleasant scene of granite, aspen, and spruce. It’s a steep, somewhat rough trail, but this is a much easier hike to see a tor landscape than the hike to the Granite Tors. Keep an eye on the kids, though; there are some steep drops here, and the trail that loops through the rocks and back down to the river is steep and rough. Special features: Angel Rocks: granite outcrops, good views, and rock climbing for experienced climbers. Traverse: an alpine ridge run and a trail shelter.Even though Bartlett Cove is the location of park headquarters, the lodge, and a boat mooring area, it is also a popular place for kayaking day trips. The cove generally offers protected paddling and opportunities to see humpback whales. It is also home to a variety of waterfowl. Occasionally black bears and moose are seen along the shore or even in the campground.This easy, flat trail is an excellent hike for the entire family, with amazing scenery, boardwalks, and viewing platforms.Beaver Creek offers an excellent family or novice float and is one of the few road-accessible streams in Alaska designated as a Wild and Scenic River. Originating at the confluence of Bear and Champion creeks in White Mountains National Recreation Area, Beaver Creek is a shallow, moderately swift clearwater stream flowing through rolling hills and the jagged peaks of the White Mountains before slowing and meandering through the Yukon Flats to the Yukon River. The White Mountains form a dramatic backdrop for the first 127 miles.For remote wilderness, solitude, wild weather, and wilder water, a float trip down the Aniakchak is very special. But don't attempt it unless you are an expert paddler, extremely self-reliant in Alaska wilderness camping, and ready for severe weather and self-rescue. Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve is one of the least visited national park units in the U.S. Issuing forth from cerulean Surprise Lake in the heart of the Aniakchak Caldera, the Aniakchak is truly a wild river. After 1 quiet mile, the river quickens and plunges through The Gates, a narrow 1,200-foot-high gap in the crater, dropping an average of 70 feet per mile through frothy, rocky Class II, III, and IV turbulence for about 15 miles. Then it slows to Class I and meanders 17 miles to Aniakchak Bay.This is an excellent hike for the entire family. Amazing scenery, boardwalks, viewing platforms, and an easy, flat trail are the main elements of the hike. The trail descends down along the Eagle River and provides outstanding mountain views, wildflowers, lush vegetation, and numerous areas of beaver activity with ample opportunities for spotting wildlife.This easy self-guided nature trail wanders along placid Beaver Slough. Hikers transcend into wilderness a hop, skip, and jump away from family-friendly North Pole and the premier attractions at the Santa Claus House. The easy mile-long trail hosts interpretive signs, an old homestead cabin rendition, and a flower-enriched peace garden. As you wander along the lush slough, keep your eyes peeled for beavers!Beginning in the mountains northwest of lake-dotted Howard Pass, the Aniuk River flows southwesterly for 80 miles to its confluence with the Noatak River. A small clearwater stream spiked with rocky rapids, the Aniuk flows through a broad, sometimes marshy valley, with a gradient of less than 20 feet per mile. The watershed drains a thousand square miles. As an alternate starting point for a trip on the Noatak, the Aniuk traverses a rarely visited region of Noatak National Preserve. Entirely above treeline, the Aniuk begins in alpine hmdra on the south side of the Brooks Range and traverses upland to wetland tundra habitats. Opportunities for observing wildlife are outstanding, as Howard Pass is a major migratory route and the vistas are expansive.Alexander Creek is one of the most popular fishing and hunting rivers in Southcentral Alaska. From its source at Alexander Lake, Alexander Creek flows southeast about 40 miles to meet the Susitna River. The terrain around the lake is flat, and views of the Alaska Range, including Mount McKinley (Denali), are excellent. Alexander Lake Lodge lies on the south end of the lake, and a halfdozen cabins are scattered around the lakeshore. A platform at the southeast end of the lake provides a dry area for inflating rafts. Otherwise, there is little dry ground on public land near the lake's outlet. Three sites are used informally by campers on private lands around the lake. The creek is 1 to 5 feet deep and from 50 to 200 feet wide with an average gradient of 3-5 feet per mile. It meanders through spruce, birch, and cottonwood forest, often between high banks or through willow thickets and tall grasses, so scenic vistas below the lake are generally poor. Motorboats are not allowed from Creek Miles 23 to 38,3 (almost to Alexander Lake) from May 15 to August 20.Behm Canal is the ultimate Ketchikan Area trip. The canal is a natural waterway that surrounds the west, north, and east sides of Revillagigedo Island and includes some of the trips so far described plus many more. It is a trip of between 120 and 150 miles depending on launch and haul-out points. It could probably be done in ten days, but I don’t consider it worth doing unless you have three weeks to really enjoy the adventure and take time to explore at least a few of the many bays and inlets along the way. Sidetrips can add as many as 100 miles. Trip Highlights: Beautiful scenery, hot springs, bears, waterfowl, marine mammals, berry picking, wilderness camping, Misty Fjords, solitude, old-growth forest.The Anvik is a little-known river outside of well-informed sport fishing circles, yet it is one of the most productive tributaries of the Yukon watershed. With few visitors and just a single sport fishing lodge along its entire length, the river offers a great wilderness float, perfect for a fishing family. There is good hiking in its upper reaches, but little hiking lower down, due to the extensive birch and spruce forests. Beginning in the rolling Nulato Hills, the Anvik River flows southerly for 141 miles, joining the Yukon River 1.5 miles below the village of Anvik. A clearwater river in the Middle Yukon region, the river flows through alpine tundra and forested hills as it winds its way down to the Yukon. Typical of south-flowing Yukon Region rivers, the upper river is clear and swift, and the lower river is slow and meandering.Rising from the Schwatka Mountains of the Brooks Range at Nakmaktuak Pass, the Ambler River flows in a southwesterly direction for 80 miles to its confluence with the Kobuk River. Small and clear, the Ambler is a single channel for the first 15 miles from the confluence of two headwater forks, with many small rapids flowing over sharp rocks. The river passes through a narrow, constricted valley with steep mountains on the right bank. In its midsection, the forested valley broadens and the river is shallow and braided for about 35 miles before becoming a single channel once again a mile above Lake Anirak. From this point, the Ambler meanders 30 miles through a broad floodplain to its confluence with the Kobuk at the Eskimo village of Ambler. The Ambler flows almost entirely through a forested region, except for its headwaters. The best hiking opportunities exist near the upper river, a primitive, remote area that is rarely visited.Berners Bay can be considered a destination or a place to kayak. There are several places along Lynn Canal to put in or take out on the way to or from Berners Bay. Take Glacier Highway the 39 miles from downtown Juneau to Berners Bay or to one of the put-in/take-out spots along the way. If you are renting a kayak in Juneau, you can arrange to be dropped off and/or picked up at these locations. Juneau kayakers often take their out-of-town visitors to Berners Bay for a convenient taste of wilderness paddling. Others go there just to get away from home for a while in the summer when the cruise ship sailors take over down-town. Berners Bay seems to have its own weather system; even when it is rainy and blowy in Juneau, it is generally clear and pleasant out near the bay. Berners Bay is open and exposed to the west and south-west, but there is plenty of protected paddling to be had in its upper (northern) part. Southward from the bay along Favorite Channel lies an area referred to as the Channel Islands. It is possible to put in at various harbors here and paddle to Berners Bay or start at the bay and head south. Trip Highlights: In the vicinity of Berners Bay, there are a lot of eagles to watch. At the mouth of Eagle River, they congregate by the dozens. Individual or groups of humpback whales are generally present along Favorite Channel, and it is not unusual to see them bubble-net feeding. On Benjamin Island there is the opportunity to visit a sea lion rookery.A number of half-day, full-day, and overnight trips can be made conveniently from Pelican Harbor. Just paddling along the waterfront and among the small islands in front of the harbor is enjoyable. With a little more time and energy, continue northwest past Pelican’s “suburb” of Sunnyside and visit the Lisianski Inlet Wilderness Lodge. Day trips or overnighters also can be made by paddling southeast to the head of Lisianski Inlet 9 miles away.For the highly skilled paddler, American Creek offers a brief, yet demanding whitewater float through an exceptionally pristine wilderness, as well as some of the best rambow trout and arctic char fishing in Katmai National Park and Preserve. Nestled in a narrow glacial valley among 3,500- to 4,500-foot peaks at the foot of the Aleutian Range lie jeweled alpine lakes that form the headwaters of American Creek Small mountain streams cascade into 3-mile-long Murray Lake, and a small stream about 2 miles long empties into 5-mile-long Hammersly Lake. From these crystal-clear lakes flows the equally transparent American Creek.A designated National Wild and Scenic River accessible by road at both the put-in and take-out, Birch Creek is an attractive float for people who would like a wild-river experience without the expense of flying into a roadless area. This is an exciting family rafting trip for experienced wilderness campers who also have boating experience or for intermediate canoeists and kayakers. From headwater creeks issuing from Mastodon Dome, Birch Creek flows swiftly through upland plateaus, forested valleys, rolling hills, and low mountains. Nearing the marshy lowlands of Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge, the river slows and meanders. It joins the Yukon River after flowing for 344 miles.Auke Bay is a good locale for beginning paddlers. It is relatively easy to put in at the boat harbor, and the bay is big enough and sufficiently varied to allow interesting paddling. These are generally protected waters, but if conditions do become unpleasant, it is easy to quit and go home. Under favorable wind and tide conditions, the paddle from Auke Bay to downtown Juneau is an easy day trip through Mendenhall Bar Channel?the shallow upper reaches of Gastineau Channel. Trip Highlights: Spectacular view of Mendenhall Glacier. Opportunity to deal with shallow water paddling in a following current. Lots of eagles.The Inside Passage is an area of land and water that stretches from the U.S.?Canadian border (near Seattle), winding north past Vancouver, Victoria, Ketchikan, and Sitka, and around Admiralty Island to Juneau and the longer inlets of Glacier Bay, Haines, and Skagway. The Gulf of Alaska continues into Prince William Sound to Seward. Because much of this region is roadless, one of the easiest ways for families to see this spectacular terrain of fingerlike fjords, islands, glaciers, and coves is to book an Inside Passage or a Gulf of Alaska cruise. When cruise ships embark from Anchorage, they really leave from Seward, 127 miles south (two and a half to three hours by car). If you can, allow pre- or post-cruise time to see the sites and to enjoy the drive along the Anchorage?Seward Highway. Weather in Anchorage is uncommonly mild for Alaska due to the warm sea current. In summer, temperatures generally hover between 60 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, with sunlight stretching nineteen hours. The term "Anchorage Bowl" refers to the orientation of the city: The Chugach Mountains curve around the city on the east, and the northwest and southwest are bounded by the Cook Inlet. Mt. McKinley is usually in sight. This eTrail is one complete vacation written with families in mind. It’s loaded with exciting things to do, family-friendly places to lodge and dine, recommended side trips, local sources of information, and detailed travel directions.With its proximity to downtown, the Birch Hill Recreation Area is practically an urban trail system. Pioneered by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks, the park famously lures crosscountry skiers during the snowy months. In spring the slopes melt into casual hiking routes. The easy 1.1-mile Blue Loop lightly gains elevation as it circles through the characteristically lofty birch forest.If you’re eager to explore Campbell Creek Valley beyond the Powerline Trail, visit Avalanche Peak. Easily climbed from Powerline Pass, Avalanche’s southern ridge offers a pleasant hike with little scree and no scrambling. The main drawback is the 6-mile approach hike; bike to the pass to save time, or plan for a long day. Also consider camping at Green Lake and summitting the next morning.Bird Creek takes you through some of the most amazing mature spruce forests in Chugach State Park. The tall, mature trees create a shadowed, somewhat spooky atmosphere, which emphasizes the damp forest floor that’s heavily carpeted with mosses and ferns. The trail is very wet and muddy in spring and during wet periods, is often rutted from ATV use, and has one stream crossing; so plan for wet feet.Bird Ridge is an ideal introduction to the rigors and rewards of hiking in Chugach State Park. After a steep ascent to tree line, views of Turnagain Arm and the park’s wild interior come quickly and dramatically. Due to its southern exposure, Bird Ridge emerges early from its winter hibernation, attracting spring hikers while surrounding mountains remain blanketed by snow. Expect to see plenty of other hikers enjoying the sunny evenings.In the foothills above Eagle River is a bare, rounded knob unofficially known as “Baldy.” Less than a mile from Meadow Creek Trailhead, and with slightly more than 1000 feet of elevation to climb, it is a popular day hike with locals of all ability levels. Baldy also marks the beginning of a long, pleasant ridge leading to Blacktail Rocks and beyond. The trail is smooth, the ridge wide, and the views outstanding.Bird Peak, imposing and remote, is the most arduous trip in this book. The highest point in a vast circular drainage, Bird reigns over some of the park’s most rugged terrain. This route takes you through an overgrown trail and across brushy hillsides to a secluded high valley, up jumbled scree slopes, and finally along a rocky summit ridge so precipitous on one side that it makes the entire peak seem cantilevered. Only strong hikers with some routefinding skills should attempt this trip. Although you can make it in very long day, you’re better off camping for a night in the beautiful high valley and tackling the summit pinnacle the next morning.This is the classic spring conditioning hike, snow-free earlier than many other places because of its southern exposure. The earliest spring flowers can be found here too. Take a picnic lunch, climb as high as you like, stretch out on the ground, and enjoy the warm sunshine and rich smell of earth?all while surrounding mountains remain cloaked in white. The hike is steep but worth the effort because of its sweeping view of fjord-like Turnagain Arm.A half-day or long day hike to the crest of Bird Ridge, overlooking Turnagain Arm. The hike up Bird Ridge, the ridge between Indian and Bird Creeks, offers a chance to see the Anchorage area’s first mountain wildflowers of the year; the ridge is steep and south-facing, so the snow melts early in spring. The sweeping views of alpine mountains, green valleys, and shimmering Turnagain Arm from the ridge are about as good as scenery gets. Locals use the Bird Ridge Trail as a tune-up hike early in the year. It’s an extremely steep trail, so consider taking a staff or ski poles, and be ready for sore quads the next day if this is your first hike of the year. If snowfields still linger on the ridge, there is usually a trail of packed snow to follow. The ridge is exposed and usually windy, so even if the weather is good at the trailhead, pack a hat, gloves, and warm and windproof clothing. Special features: A very steep trail; fine views of Turnagain Arm.A long day or overnight trip from Eklutna Lake to an alpine lookout and a high, wild alpine valley. Mountain wildflowers, great views of milky-blue Eklutna Lake and massive Bold Peak, and one of the best panoramas anywhere in Chugach State Park lie only a few miles (well, okay, they’re steep miles) up the Bold Ridge Trail. Special features: Alpine tundra; massive, glacially carved Bold Peak; views of Eklutna Lake and Glacier. Bike rentals for the Eklutna Lakeside Trail are available near the trailhead.This relatively short yet challenging trail to the ridge offers amazing views of Turnagain Arm. The views alone make this hike worth putting on your to-do list. The very steep yet easy-to-follow trail requires some hiking over rock and loose stone and along the sheer, steep edges of the mountainside. The trail passes through a spruce forest and climbs to the alpine tundra above the tree line. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather and for windy conditions.The Bold Ridge Trail is steep and difficult, but it takes you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in Chugach State Park. Outstanding views of Eklutna Lake below, Knik Arm, Twin Peaks, Bold Peak, and the Eklutna Glacier make this hike one of the best. The glacial-carved valleys, high ridges, and open tundra, along with the abundance of alpine wildflowers and Arctic ground squirrels, add to the allure and natural beauty of this hike.The Bird Ridge Trail is a relatively short trail to the ridge, yet it is challenging and has amazing views of Turnagain Arm. The views alone make this hike worth putting on your to-do list. The very steep yet easy-to-follow trail requires some hiking over rock and loose stone and along the sheer, steep edges of the mountainside. The trail passes through a spruce forest and climbs to the alpine tundra above the tree line. Be prepared for changes in temperature, weather, and windy conditions.A long, steep day hike in the Wrangell Mountains to Bonanza Ridge and the remains of the Bonanza Mine. The Bonanza hike leads high into the Wrangell Mountains to the Bonanza Mine, one of the four copper mines that fed the ore concentration mill in Kennecott during the town’s heyday. Just above the remains of the mine, Bonanza Ridge (about 6,000 feet elevation) is a fine place for gaping at rugged peaks and ridges marching off into the distance and for checking out the striking blue-green rock outcrops that made Bonanza Ridge one of North America’s richest copper deposits. First, the big picture: Kennecott company miners dug out the high-grade copper ore of Bonanza Ridge at four mines: the Bonanza, Jumbo, Mother Lode, and Erie Mines. Cable cars carried the ore off the ridge and into the valley, where workers processed it in the Kennecott mill. Then the ore went into rail cars for a trip down the Copper River and Northwestern Railway to the port at Cordova. From Cordova, ships carried it to the Lower 48 for smelting and sale. The trail runs along the old wagon road to the mine, more or less following the route of the cable tramway for the ore cars, but with many curves and switchbacks to lessen the grade for the wagons and now, conveniently, for you, the hiker. Special features: Alpine scenery, geology, mining history.From its origins on the Porrupine River Flats of the Yukon Territory, the Black River flows 255 miles through rolling and lowland forests of spruce, hardwoods, and willow, joining the Porrupine River about 16 miles northwest of Fort Yukon. little topographic relief presents itself, though the river has rut an ancient swath through the Yukon Flats, with munerous bluffs and high banks. The upper river flows at a moderate pace (3 to 4 miles per hour); below Salmon Fork, it slows, widens, and meanders through high bluffs. Below Chalkyitsik, the river widens and slows even more, and high banks limit the view of the surrounding forest. Overall, the river is confined and somewhat unchanging in terms of topography and vegetation. Remains of old cabins exist along the river, particularly up the shallow slough to the site of Old Salmon Village. Rich in wildlife prized for their fur, the Black River region is known as "the cradle of the lynx."The Boreal Forest Trail travels along boardwalks and dirt paths through the thick boreal forest. The more exposed Seasonal Wetland Trail travels past the largest wetlands on the property. Both easy trails have wheelchair accessible options.The butte’s dry conditions, perhaps coupled with enough height to stand above a late glacial advance without being overtopped, give the butte unique vegetation for the area. Sage is most obvious. There are also Serviceberries and tiny, quite rare flowers called Draba caesia. It is also one of few areas in southcental Alaska with grasshoppers. Kids will love chasing them.Rising in glaciers of the Chugach Mountains, the Bremner River flows westerly for 64 miles through a coastal trough that separates the Canadian border ranges and the Pacific mountain system (the Chugach and Wrangell Mountains). The Brenmer traverses a vast, rugged wilderness of glaciated peaks and swift, turbid rivers. These barriers are formidable to the would-be explorer. The area is primitive, revealing little of its past human history, and few have penetrated it. Vegetation is influenced by both the Interior and the coast, so there is a mixture of alpine tundra, coastal forests of Sitka spruce and hemlock, and dense alder thickets. The hiking can be very dllficult below the alpine zone, unless you have an affmity for alder.Bold Peak dominates the Eklutna Lake skyline, rising more than 6500 feet from Eklutna’s shores in an explosion of steep rock walls and scree. However, this peak is easier to climb than it looks. Although the cliffs along Bold’s lakeside face prevent a frontal assault, you can sneak up on the mountain when it is not looking: a long, hidden gully winds leisurely up the mountain’s backside. This gully, tucked so deep into the mountain that it practically swallows you, makes for a unique Chugach climb. It’s 12 miles from the Eklutna Lake parking lot to the base of this gully, so only the fastest hikers (even with the aid of a bicycle) will want to attempt a 1-day ascent. Plan instead on staying overnight at one of the Lakeside Trail campgrounds or at the Serenity Falls hut and devoting 2 days to this outing. Bold Peak is not for everyone: it’s a long climb that involves routefinding, some difficult scrambling, and plenty of tiring scree, but also pleasant hiking and unbeatable views.A half-day or overnight hike on a loop trail around a forested lake in Denali State Park. The trail is near campground-style civilization, but it’s wilder than you might imagine. Look for nesting swans and their young (called cygnets) and the beavers that have set up housekeeping near the lake. You can pick blueberries and cranberries in season, enjoy wildflowers like wild iris, dogwood, twinflower, and spirea, and lounge on the lake’s small sand beaches when the water level is lower. By mid-August the pungent smell of highbush cranberries, Southcentral Alaska’s musky odor of fall, is in the air. Check out the bridges on the trail: a long, springy suspension bridge over the inlet stream and a massive gabion-piling bridge over the outlet stream. Special features: Wildlife, backcountry campsites, fishing, fee cabins; adjacent to road-accessible Byers Lake Campground.The hike to Bold Peak valley, good all summer, is an unsurpassed September outing when Bold Peak is topped with white, the alpine valley is carpeted in red, the lower hillsides are sheathed in gold, and Eklutna Lake shines far below. Look for marmots, ground squirrels, hawks, magpies, and ptarmigan. In season, you will find beautiful wildflowers, high-bush cranberries, and blueberries. If you are lucky, you may see moose, Dall sheep, or bears.A short day hike to a view of a mountain glacier near the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center. Portage Valley is one of the most popular visitor destinations in Alaska, but don’t let that scare you away. The valley’s blue ice and glacial scenery is outstanding, and many visitors simply stop at the Begich,Boggs Visitor Center, enjoy the surroundings a bit, and leave for the next attraction. If you stick around for a short hike to Byron Glacier, you won’t be disappointed. Be sure to bring rain gear along, however, in case the valley’s frequent, pelting rains strike while you’re on the trail. Special features: A mountain glacier and a permanent snowfield.Climbing through mixed forests and idyllic alpine meadows, the Bold Ridge Trail is hard to beat for scenery both above and below treeline. The trail follows an abandoned roadbed through a canopy of birch and alder to treeline, then enters a large cirque at the base of Bold Peak’s striking north face. A short climb up the tundra to Bold Ridge rewards you with an expansive view of Eklutna Lake, distant Knik Arm, and Eklutna Glacier.This wide gravel trail is a delightful walk for families with small children, for Aunt Minnie, and for spry great-grandfather. An easy hike with no climbing, the trip is exciting for those who have never seen rugged mountain and glacier terrain up close. Bring a picnic lunch and relax in the heart of snow-and-ice country.Caines Head, with an abandoned World War II army fort and exquisite bay views framed by coastal rainforest, offers a blend of historical curiosity and natural wonder. The area has great beaches, rock outcrops, and soaring coastal cliffs. The main access trail is not a trail at all but a beach walk that appears only at low tide. A fantastic side trail leads to alpine country. Look for a variety of seabirds, shorebirds, and songbirds en route, along with bald eagles, black bears, and spawning salmon. If the tides are wrong the only time you can go, consider launching a sea kayak and exploring this area from the water.An overnight hike along the Resurrection Bay coastline to Caines Head, in Caines Head State Recreation Area. This hike along the coastline of Resurrection Bay offers ocean wildlife, coastal scenery, fishing, history, cabins, and camping. Caines Head is the site of Fort McGilvray, a military garrison built to protect Seward’s harbor during World War II, and the state recreation area it anchors also features fee cabins at Callisto Canyon and Derby Cove, backcountry camping areas at Tonsina Creek and North Beach, a side trail into alpine country below Callisto Peak, and a trail to the more remote South Beach. Harbor seals, Steller sea lions, sea otters, porpoises, and humpback whales cruise the coast, and the seabird population includes pigeon guillemots, cormorants, murrelets, scoters, oystercatchers, and harlequin ducks. Don’t forget the rain gear; the Gulf of Alaska coast is notoriously wet. Special features: Coastal scenery and wildlife, World War II?era Fort McGilvray, two fee cabins, beach walking, and surf fishing. The beach section of the hike, 2.5 miles long, is passable only at a tide of 4 feet or lower.A botany lover’s delight, this easy loop trail is located on the campus of University of Alaska?Fairbanks on a knoll above the extensive Georgeson Botanical Garden. The Calypso Orchid Nature Trail is known for a spectacular spring orchid bloom, when the rare and delicate flowers shoot from the mossy forest floor. Allow plenty of time to read the interpretive signs at any time of year.High in Clear Creek Valley, a remote glacier sits atop bare cliffs, spilling ice and water down hundreds of feet. Few animals and even fewer humans ever see it, as most eschew this rugged valley in favor of more gentle terrain. Like many of the park’s hidden corners, Clear Creek Valley remains largely untouched. But you can easily explore this valley on a day hike from Girdwood, or as side trip from the Historic Iditarod Trail. Make a short trip to the glacier, or press on to Steamroller Pass, a high saddle dividing the Raven Creek and Bird Creek watersheds. From there, follow a ridge to Camp Robber Peak, or descend to the diminutive Archangel Lakes. In either case, expect rugged terrain and solitude.Beginning in low Mountains of eastern Alaska, the Chena is a subarctic clearwater river that flows westerly for 141 miles to its confluence with the Tanana River near Fairbanks. Draining about 1,980 square miles, the Chena ruts through forested Mountains and hills and traverses muskeg and scrub thickets. The upper 100 miles of the river are generally clear, though this has not always been the case. The Chena is typical of many Alaskan subarctic rivers that in the past were polluted by gold mining activities, which have now been drastically curtailed. Unfortunately, the lower reaches of the river, particularly the lower 30 miles, are polluted by domestic and industrial wastes from Fairbanks. Still, boaters in Fairbanks love the accessibility of the Chena, which is the most popular and intensely utilized sport-fishing river in Interior Alaska.A free-flowing stream in the heart of Alaska's largest city, Campbell Creek is a resource to treasure and protect. Many Anchorage paddlers use the creek for early season paddling practice; others enjoy the quiet paddling amidst a protected greenbelt in the city.Campbell Creek forms in the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage, flowing west through the wetlands of Campbell Tract, the last large undeveloped piece of land within the Municipality of Anchorage. A small stream with a width of 7 to 12 feet, Campbell Creek is normally only 7 to 12 inches deep. Early in the season, swollen with snowmelt, the creek may be up to 3 feet deep, exceeding its banks and making sweepers even more hazardous than later in the summer. The creek meanders through a residential, office, and industrial area of South Anchorage. Campbell Lake is a great place to canoe or kayak and is a safe location to practice paddling techniques before you head out for a wilderness adventure.This bike path pumps through the golden heart of Fairbanks showcasing downtown’s main attractions and the lovely Chena River. The portion described stretches from Pioneer Park through Golden Heart Plaza past the World War II memorial to the cusp of Fort Wainwright. The route is level, paved, and popular year-round for recreation and commuting.Chilkoot Trail leads north from the trailhead, sometimes on level ground and sometimes climbing sharply to skirt river cliffs. Take the trail north to Finnegan’s Point, Canyon City, and return. There are no other trails or trail junctions to cause confusion.The Campbell Creek Trail stretches from south Anchorage near Minnesota Drive and Dimond Boulevard and heads northeast toward Tudor Road. This popular multipurpose trail follows the scenic Campbell Creek, making it an excellent year-round recreational trail for fishing, picnicking, kids, families, hikers, bicycling, dog walkers, and winter skiers. Numerous access points along the entire trail make it easily accessible from many Anchorage neighborhoods. Campbell Creek is an important watershed and provides excellent salmon viewing, wildlife habitat, and natural flood control.A 2-to-3-day trip to China Poot Lake, Poot Peak, and Moose Valley in Kachemak Bay State Park. The dock at the head of Halibut Cove Lagoon may be busy with boaters and salmon anglers in midsummer, but decent solitude is just up the trail. Since the tides control when you can get in and out, you might as well relax and stay awhile, at least overnight?and two or three nights is even better. There’s a fee cabin at China Poot Lake and good backcountry camping at the lake, on Moose Valley Creek, and in the subalpine country of Garden Lakes south of Poot Peak. You could also opt to dayhike the trails, overnighting in one of the three fee cabins at the head of the lagoon or camping in the camping area near the West Cabin. Special features: A lake, alpine scenery, fishing, fee cabins, good camping. Access is by water taxi from Homer.Chena Lakes Recreation Area is a bustling weekend destination just twenty minutes from Fairbanks. Despite the crowds, the Chena River Nature Trail is something of an unspoiled gem tucked away in a forested corner of the park. Accompanied by an excellent interpretive guide, nature lovers will experience a great day hike on this older earthy trail passing through a variety of phases of boreal forest succession.Conveniently located within Anchorage, the Campbell Tract Loop fits into most any schedule. An easy hike for the entire family, the level and well-maintained trail passes through prime wildlife habitat and along scenic Campbell Creek. It also passes the Campbell Creek Science Center, an outdoor education center that’s visited by thousands of Anchorage school children each year.Boaters with good intermediate paddling skills and wilderness survival skills will find the Chitina to be an excellent wilderness trip in the heart of the nation's largest national park-- Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, encompassing more than 13 million acres. Born in the St. Elias Mountains where four glaciers meet at the Canadian border, 100 miles northwest of Yakutat, these glaciers flow about 30 miles to become the terminus of the Chitina Glacier. The Chitina River begins at 2,000 feet and flows 112 miles in a profusely braided manner past spectacular mountain scenery, carving its way through a glacial valley with peaks rising more than 16,000 feet, before emptying into the Copper River. The Chitina Valley is a rift separating the Wrangell Mountains from the St Elias Mountains. One of the scenic highlights is floating past MacColl Ridge, where waterfalls cascade from steep cliffs of multicolored rock, carving deep ravines through bedrock to expose rich strata of geologic history. Hiking is excellent in the upper river, especially in the desertlike terrain surrounding the Chitina Glacier, where the river first emerges.Originating in the azure waters of Twin Lakes and surrounded by peaks in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, the Chilikadrotna races west 60 miles through forested hills in western Alaska to its confluence with the Mulchatna River. At the outlet of Lower Twin Lake lie scattered boulders and some whitewater. The first 8 miles of the river are Class I to II, followed by 31 miles of continuous Class II with one Class III rapid. The riverbed is narrow and winding, and races through a forested valley where sweepers, boulders, rocky rapids, and shallows are a constant threat. On one stretch the river drops 50 feet in less than a mile. About halfway through this section, a Class III rapid appears (about 5 miles below the little Mulchatna River). Below here, the rapids subside and the river glides through lowland forest The last 21 miles are Class I to the Mulchatna River, which is also Class I.Cantata Peak, one of the more imposing mountains in Chugach State Park, is not an easy climb. It involves a long approach hike, some difficult scrambling, and extensive routefinding. For competent and experienced Chugach scramblers, though, it’s a rewarding trip. Cantata can be climbed in a day from South Fork Trailhead, though routefinding challenges on the upper mountain make it sensible to start early. Most hikers will prefer to camp near Eagle Lake and devote 2 days to the climb.The three forks of the Chulitna River have their origins in the southern slopes of the Alaska Range in the vicinity of Broad Pass. The East Fork Chulitna River begins as a small clearwater stream at the edge of the Mountains near Denali National Park. Swift and rocky in its upper reaches, it is usually so clear that you can see salmon and arctic grayling swimming below the surface. The Middle Fork, too, is swift and clear. These two tributaries offer outstanding whitewater runs. The Middle Fork is a slightly longer run (by 7 miles) and is generally more technical; count on it being shallow, rocky, and full of wood. Be prepared to lift your boat over riverwide sweepers on both the Middle and East forks.In the Chilkat Inlet area there are a variety of paddling destinations in a very scenic setting of forests and glaciers and snowy peaks in the background. Along shore there is the possibility of seeing bears. Eagles and waterfowl are always present. Whales, seals, and porpoises are often present in the inlet.A half-day, long day, or overnight hike to a high valley and alpine ridges in the Mentasta Mountains. A relatively simple hike on an old all-terrain-vehicle track, the Caribou Creek Trail leads into alpine country about as painlessly as possible, and from there the choices are yours.The rugged, high valley above the end of the trail invites exploration, and a few steep but nontechnical routes lead up the ridges on either side of the creek. You can also hike all the way to the summit ridge of the Mentasta Mountains, at the head of the drainage. The view is spectacular from the divide, particularly to the east toward Noyes Mountain, and the ridge rambling is fine, if steep in places, for several miles east and west along the ridgeline. Special features: A relatively easy trip into alpine country; fantastic views on the high ridges.Clover Passage, 15 miles northwest of Ketchikan, is a nice area for a variety of day trips or longer kayak-camping excursions. Even on breezy days you can usually find protected water in the lee of the numerous islands within the Passage. Marbled murrelets, scoters, and in late spring, Barrow’s goldeneyes are found here in great abundance. I have seen black bears along the shore, and eagles and ravens are always present. Harbor seals typically haul out on the rocky islets behind Hump and Betton Islands. Naha Bay at the northeast end of Clover Passage contains the old cannery town of Loring and scenic Roosevelt Lagoon with its well-maintained hiking trails.This is a fascinating trip into Chilkoot Inlet and upper Lynn Canal. It is wilderness kayaking on seldom-visited islands. It offers remote camping with incredible scenic views of the Chilkat Range and the Coast Mountains. The Chilkat Islands extend south from Seduction Point on Chilkat Peninsula and include Talsani, Anyaka, Shikosi, Katagun Islands, and Eldred Rock. Trip Highlights: Wildlife viewing, unique wilderness island camping, and excellent mountain scenery.For the advanced rafter, canoeist, or kayaker, the Charley offers many miles of whitewater challenges in a remote, seldom-visited wilderness. Known for its exceptional clarity, the Charley rises in the Tanana Hills, flowing from headwaters about 4,000 feet above sea level and descending at an average gradient of 31 feet per mile to meet the Yukon at 700 feet above sea level. With an average current of 4 to 6 miles per hour, the Charley is never dull over the course of its 88 miles and is considered to be Interior Alaska's premier whitewater river. During high water, usually late May to July, the upper two-thirds of the river is lively and challenging. High water ocrurs at breakup and during rainstorms. Water levels rise dramatically within hours. At low water levels, exposed gravel bars and boulders require vigilant maneuvering and scouting as you thread through whitewater rapids.The Colville is the largest river draining the Arctic Slope of the Brooks Range and is one of the most remote rivers in Alaska. It flows east out of the western end of the Brooks Range, then bends north to Harrison Bay on the Beaufort Sea 428 miles later, draining an area of 24,000 square miles. For about 300 miles, the river traverses treeless arctic foothills and ridges. The lower river meanders over the treeless arctic coastal plain, a vast expanse of wet tundra, winding streams, and thousands of lakes, imparting a stunning sense of wide-open space. High cliffs along the river provide excellent habitat for raptors, and the Colville is one of the most productive peregrine falcon areas in Alaska. The lower Colville (the delta) continues to be a traditional fishing area for residents of Nuiqsut and Umiat.In settled weather, partial and full-day trips can be made spontaneously in this area, launching from Chilkat State Park or from Portage Cove in Haines. Overnight and longer adventures can also be planned. Views across and along Chilkoot Inlet are spectacular. Trip Highlights: Scenic views and observation of waterfowl and whales.The Chatanika is a great river for a one-day family outing or a five-to seven-day trip. With headwaters in the rolling hills north of Fairbanks, the Chatanika River flows westsouthwest 128 miles through spruce and birch forests to its confluence with the Tolovana River. A clearwater stream, the Chatanika courses mostly through a mature U-shaped valley, with low hills surrounding the valley and with mountains in the distance. The lower river traverses Minto Flats, an area covered with many small, clear lakes. The Elliott Highway crosses the river at midpoint and the Steese Highway crosses and parallels the upper reaches of the river. State and Bureau of Land Management roadside campgrounds and waysides dot the river. The historic Fairbanks-to-Circle gold trail follows the upper Chatanika, and some cabins may be found along the river near the town of Chatanika. While not a remote wilderness trip, the Chatanika offers an excellent recreational experience, with good wildlife viewing and a bit of gold mining history.Alaska has two Copper Rivers. Glacier-fed, the first carries some steelhead and rainbows in its tributaries, the second is the one everybody raves about. Alright, the first thing you gotta know about the Copper River in Alaska is that there are at least two of them. The closest one to civilization flows into Prince William Sound in a big delta east of Cordova. The other is a much smaller river that drains a trio of lakes in the narrow isthmus that separates Iliamna Lake from the salty waters of Iliamna Bay, at the southwest end of Cook Inlet. The former is more challenging and if you’re making the trek to Alaska by car from the Lower 48, it might just be worthwhile to poke around on that Copper’s tributaries before heading into Anchorage and points west. The far more famous Copper is the object of our attention here?the one down in the Iliamna region. Mack Minnard calls it “a beautiful piece of water with all the attributes of a first-class rainbow river.” He should know. An Alaska Fish and Game biologist, he worked in the drainage for 18 years. Species: Rainbow, Pacific salmon. Angling methods: fly-fishing only.The Chilkat River offers a delightful, swift float through the Chilkat Valley. Glacial in origin, the Chilkat runs silty for much of the year except January through April, when its clear waters sparkle with the movement of Dolly Varden trout. The Chilkat river system drains an area of 958 miles, with tributary rivers coming off glaciers and mountain lakes in British Columbia. The Chilkat itself flows 52 miles to Chilkat Inlet. The Tsirku River, a major tributary, begins in the Takhinsha Mountains and courses 25 miles to meet the Chilkat at the village of Klukwan. Tsirku is the Tlingit name for "big salmon." If Six-mile-long Chilkat Lake feeds into the Tsirku. The Klehini River, beginning as meltwater on Mineral Mountain in British Columbia, flows 42 miles to meet the Chilkat.A 2-to-4-day loop hike on alpine ridges that circle the Angel Creek watershed. A hike for true animals, the Chena Dome Trail loops around the Angel Creek watershed on an alpine ridgeline with views that go on forever. About 3 miles of developed trail lead to the ridgeline from either trailhead, and from there the hike is an alpine route marked with rock cairns and mileage posts. June and July are the flower months on this hike; August is the berry month. Look for migratory birds like plovers and surfbirds nesting on the tundra, and for resident ptarmigan. Stay alert for bears, especially in the wooded saddles where visibility is limited. The trail is open to bicycling and horseback riding but isn’t really suitable for either beyond tree line. Special features: Alpine rambling, great views, and wildflowers.From its headwaters above Meadow Lake, the Copper River begins as a series of lakes (Meadow Lake, Upper Copper Lake, Lower Copper Lake) and flows westerly for 32 miles into Intricate Bay on Iliamna Lake. (This Copper River is not to be confused with the glacier-fed Copper River, described elsewhere in this guide, which flows into the Gulf of Alaska.) Traversing spruce and cottonwood forests, the run from Upper Copper Lake begins with 2 miles of Class III to IV whitewater. Then you paddle across Lower Copper Lake to the outlet, which features 3 miles of Class III whitewater. The water moves swiftly over a boulder-strewn bottom to two waterfalls. The first waterfall drops 15 feet, the second drops 32 feet. Approaching the falls, watch for a tall cutbank on the right, half a mile above the first falls. Just upriver from the falls is a tall cutbank on the left. Take out on the left side of the river before reaching this cutbank and follow a portage trail half a mile to a point below the two falls. From this point, 6 miles of Class II and occasional Class III water leads to 6 miles of Class I to Intricate Bay. Approach sharp bends in the river with caution; they often include whitewater.Chilkoot Lake is Haines’s most unique kayaking venue. Chilkoot Lake almost always offers protected paddling and is an excellent place for inexperienced kayakers to practice. There is camping at Chilkoot Lake State Park near the kayak put-in location. Kayakers will see lots of eagles around the lake, and it is a good place to watch bears during summer when salmon are spawning.The Copper River originates on the north side of the Wrangell Mountains and flows south 287 miles to the Gulf of Alaska, draining an area of more than 24,000 square miles. Thirteen major tributaries contribute to the flow. The drop-in elevation between Copper River headwaters and the ocean is 3,600 feet, or an average of about 12 feet per mile, giving the river a swift current, averaging 7 miles per hour. Though accessible by road from many locations, the Copper offers a wilderness whitewater experience on a high-voltume glacial river through varied magnificent scenery.Three short interpretive trails at Creamer’s Field, a small migratory waterfowl refuge in Fairbanks. Creamer’s Field offers short hikes in the heart of Fairbanks, good migratory-bird viewing in spring and fall, and a chance to explore a sample of the forests and wetlands of Interior Alaska. Creamer’s is a historic dairy that operated until 1966. The Creamer’s buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the old farmhouse has been renovated as the refuge’s visitor center. In spring and fall Creamer’s attracts great flocks of migratory birds such as geese, ducks, cranes, and plovers, which stop to rest and feed here on their long journeys between their summer and winter grounds. Some of the birds, including a large group of young sandhill cranes, remain on the refuge all summer. The first of the migratory birds, usually Canada geese, arrive in mid-April. The height of the northward spring migration is from mid-April to mid-May, and mid-August to mid- September is the height of the fall migration to the south. There are sometimes as many as 2,000 cranes and 2,000 geese resting and eating at Creamer’s. Special features: Birding, interpretive trails, guided walks, a visitor center, and a piece of Fairbanks history.A 3-to-5-day traverse through the Coast Mountains from Alaska into Canada, following the route of the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. An outdoor museum, a beautiful hike, and the only long trail traverse in Southeast Alaska, the Chilkoot Trail attracts hikers from all over the world. The hike is amazingly diverse, taking in coastal and interior forests, a large river, a snowy mountain basin, rocky country above tree line, sparkling alpine streams, and huge lakes. Large numbers of hikers, designated campsites, cooking shelters, and ranger stations make this not exactly a wilderness hike, but there are compensations: a chance to meet hikers from all over the country and the world, and the experience of hiking through a landscape littered with artifacts from the gold rush, for starters. (Please leave all artifacts in place and take only photos for your memories.) If you want to avoid the biggest crowds, do the trip outside the peak season, which most years is from mid-July to mid-August. Special features: Forests, streams, lakes, alpine country, and a hike that’s dripping with history. The north trailhead, Lake Bennett, is not on a road; access is by train or foot. No firearms allowed and pets are strongly discouraged. Canada Customs requires post-hike check-in at Fraser, British Columbia, or Whitehorse, Yukon.Half-day and long day hikes or a 2-to-3-day backpack to subalpine lakes in the Kenai Mountains. Crescent Lake, 6 miles long and 0.5 mile wide, wraps around the rocky alpine peaks of Wrong Mountain, in the shape of a narrow (you guessed it) crescent. It’s brushy and subalpine at the east end, and partially forested with spruce and cottonwood on the south and west sides. Carter Lake is a smaller subalpine lake set in meadows, brush, and scatterings of weather-beaten mountain hemlocks. Special features: Subalpine lake and mountain scenery, fishing, 2 fee cabins.Take a picnic lunch to a blue-green alpine lake at the base of precipitous peaks and spires. The short walk is just right for families with children, but don’t overlook this easy hike to Dogsled Pass as an entrance to outstanding, if more-difficult, wilderness hiking deep into the Talkeetna Mountains.Hidden in a cluster of mountains north of Kenai Lake and south of the Y where the Sterling and Seward Highways split is smile-shaped Crescent Lake. Trails lead to it from each of the highways. Both the Crescent Creek Trail and Carter Lake Trail take hikers to high country right at tree line where open forests and patches of stunted evergreens give way to areas of tundra and grassland. The Crescent Creek Trail leads to the west end of Crescent Lake and is longer, gentler, and drier than the Carter Lake Trail. With more deciduous trees, it makes a glorious September hike through the golds and reds of autumn. The Carter Lake Trail climbs through rocky switchbacks for quicker access to tree line at Carter Lake and a beautiful, sometimes muddy trek across high wildflower meadows to the east end of Crescent Lake. The Crescent Creek Trail is especially good for families with children if they have reservations for overnight use of the U.S. Forest Service cabin at the west end of Crescent Lake. A rowboat goes with the cabin, and fishing for grayling is good. Nine miles of primitive trail connect the two ends of Crescent Lake along the lake’s south side.Improved gravel road from Paxson to Cantwell. This rugged gravel highway connects the Richardson and Parks highways by crossing the high tundra in the heart of the Alaska Range. Before the construction of the Parks Highway in 1971, this road was the only access route to Denali National Park. The scenery along the way rivals that found in the park, without the crowds of tourists and bothersome travel restrictions. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The hike to Crow Pass offers a pleasant day trip into a beautiful mountain wilderness with gold mine relics, glaciers, alpine lakes, and wildflowers. The route follows a dogsled route once traveled by mail carriers, explorers, and prospectors. Experienced hikers can take a 2- or 3-day point-to-point trip on the old Iditarod Trail through Chugach State Park to the Eagle River Nature Center.Mt. McKinley is the highest point in North America at 20,320 feet. The almost-four-mile-high giant was known to the Native Americans of Alaska as Denali ? “The Great One” ? a fitting tribute to one of the world’s best known mountains. But Denali National Park is more than just this single peak. Besides numerous other mountains (some of which are among America’s highest), there are other features rarely or never seen in the Lower 48. Tundra, an arctic landscape, is one, and the underlying permafrost is another. Numerous glaciers, including the largest in the United States, are a part of the Denali scene, as is a diverse wildlife that encompasses about 200 different species. Despite all of these wonders it is, perhaps, the simple vastness of Denali that is most overpowering to the visitor; that, and the wilderness spirit which pervades the mountain and the area around it. So, come share that spirit. This eTrail explains in detail how to tour the park. In addition to a park map the details include driving tours, outdoor recreation, accommodations, campgrounds, dining, and more.A long day or overnight hike to Crow Pass, or a 2-to-4-day traverse over the pass to Eagle River. Glaciers, waterfalls, wildflowers, and mining ruins add some spice to the hike to Crow Pass, as if it needed any; the pass is the highest point on the historic Iditarod Trail and one of the finest day hikes in Southcentral Alaska. If you’re backpacking, you can continue over the pass to the Eagle River Nature Center on a grand, 24- mile traverse through the Chugach Mountains. Arctic ground squirrels, marmots, and mountain goats inhabit the high country near Crow Pass, and bears, moose, and Dall sheep are frequently spotted too, especially on the Eagle River side of the pass. The Eagle River valley has a significant bear population. Salmonberries and blueberries can be a trail prize for hikers later in summer. The trail is relatively snow-free by late June, though the Crystal Lake basin south of the pass and some of the gullies north of the pass may hold snow well into the summer. The mining history starts even before you reach the trailhead: The Crow Creek and Girdwood Mines, both just off Crow Creek Road, were two of the earliest mining claims in this part of the state. The Monarch Mine, 1.7 miles up the trail, was a lode (vein) mine active from 1909 to 1938. Just after the turn of the twentieth century, hundreds of prospectors heading for other parts of the state on the Iditarod Trail passed the Monarch’s undiscovered vein without knowing it. Special features: An alpine pass, mountain glaciers, mining and Iditarod Trail history, wildlife, and access to off-trail wilderness rambles; one of Southcentral Alaska’s classic alpine traverses.A long day hike or 2-to-4-day backpack up the Devil’s Creek valley to Devil’s Pass and the Resurrection Pass Trail. A gradual climb into high alpine country, the Devil’s Creek Trail follows its namesake valley into the high country near the Resurrection Pass Trail. Special features: Alpine terrain, a fee cabin, and options of longer backpack trips.Wide gravel highway from junction with Elliott Highway to Deadhorse on the North Slope; 414 miles (666 kilometers). The Dalton Highway, known to many Alaskans as “The Haul Road,” is a truly wild and remote stretch of gravel highway that connects Fairbanks with the North Slope oil fields at Prudhoe Bay. It was originally constructed to support the building of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which follows the highway along its entire length. The road was initially closed to public traffic, but it is now open as far as the oil-drilling center of Deadhorse. The roads through the oil fields and to the shores of the Arctic Ocean remain closed to travelers, but several Deadhorse companies offer bus tours of these attractions. The road begins in the rolling uplands of the Alaskan interior, traverses the remote and rugged Brooks Range, and runs onto the tundra-clad lowland of the Arctic coastal plain. Services are available at the Yukon River, Coldfoot, and Deadhorse. Bring extra gas and two spare tires along for the trip, and be sure that your vehicle is in top running condition before attempting this road. This eTrail is a complete description of a scenic drive with a route map and information on the best travel seasons, interesting sites, recreation opportunities, camping locations, and much more.The Dew Mound Trail runs parallel to the historic Iditarod Trail. This easy 7.0-mile loop trail offers three return loop options along the way to shorten the hike, should you decide to head back sooner. The trail passes through a variety of plant communities showcasing tall grasses, shrubs and thickets, and beautiful spans of spruce and birch trees. Large boulder fields and rocky ravines add to the adventure of this hike. Interesting things to see along the trail include the Rapids Camp Yurt and the river access point, Eagle River, and a chance to see one of the park’s public use log cabins.A half-day or overnight hike up Kowee Creek to Dan Moller Cabin, and off-trail hiking into the high country beyond. The Dan Moller Trail, a boardwalk trail, is a good antidote for the rain-forest claustrophobia that can strike anyone who has been in Southeast too long. The hike follows the course of Kowee Creek, meandering along a string of wet meadows that come alive with wildflowers early in summer. There’s a view of forests and mountains nearly everywhere except for a short stretch or two in the trees, and the trail is close enough to the creek that hikers can hear it singing away on its run to Gastineau Channel. Special features: Meadows, a subalpine basin, a fee cabin, and an off-trail route to the crest of Douglas Island.Short day to overnight hikes to a series of mountain lakes above Skagway. There are two Dewey Lakes, and they are very different places. Lower Dewey Lake lies in the trees 500 feet above downtown Skagway, and the hike is easy if a bit steep. Upper Dewey Lake, in a subalpine basin at 3,097 feet elevation, is a long, very steep haul up the mountain slope above the lower lake. Devil’s Punch Bowl is an icy lake in an alpine cirque a little less than a mile above and south of Upper Dewey Lake. Special features: Lakes, alpine country, and a trail shelter at Upper Dewey Lake.A half-day hike to Deer Mountain, a long day hike to Blue Lake, or a killer day hike/2-to-3-day backpack traverse of alpine ridges across Revilla Island. Popular with both locals and visitors, the Deer Mountain Trail climbs a 3,001-foot peak above Ketchikan with a panoramic view of mountain peaks, forests, islands, and ocean. From there, you can continue to alpine Blue Lake and beyond; the route crosses the island on high ridges to the Silvis Lakes Trailhead on George Inlet. Whatever your destination, this is a good hike for travelers, as the trailhead is a walk of only a mile from downtown Ketchikan. Special features: Mountain scenery, an alpine traverse, trail shelters below Deer Mountain and at Blue Lake. The trailhead is accessible on foot from downtown Ketchikan.Dixie Pass is one of the few backcountry trips in the Wrangell Mountains that can be done without an airplane. It offers the chance for a close-up view of massive, glacier-covered, 14,163-foot Mount Wrangell and of 16,390-foot Mount Blackburn. The hike follows beautiful, crystal-clear Strelna Creek along successively smaller branches until it disappears at its source just below the pass. The countryside is wild, rugged, big, and beautiful, changing from open spruce and willow forest at lower elevations to willow-covered gravel bars somewhat higher, and then becoming alpine tundra below the pass. Watch for bears, moose, Dall sheep, ground squirrels, and ptarmigan. Although the hike is not long, it is not easy. There are no maintained trails. Part of the route has only intermittent animal trails, and the hiker must choose between walking the gravel bars, crossing and recrossing the stream, or following animal trails through thick willow. Map-reading and routefinding skills are necessary to find the pass. Despite this, the trip is popular with Alaska visitors because it is one of the few easily accessible routes in the Wrangell?St. Elias National Park.Rising from tributaries off Granite Mountain (Sawmill Creek; North Fork; Granite River), and upwellings in the Tanana Valley east of the Gerstle River, the Delta Clearwater is the largest spring-fed tributary of the Tanana River. This crystalline gem is 20 miles long and flows into the silty Tanana River a couple dozen miles upstream of the Richardson Highway Bridge. Bordered by dense vegetation, the river provides excellent fish habitat, supporting interior Alaska's largest runs of coho salmon, as well as large populations of arctic grayling. It is a sweet weekend run, and a fly fisher's dream, with a peaceful little state campground and boat ramp at the put-in. A boardwalk located along the river behind the campsites provides opportunities for plant, bird, and wildlife viewing. In the spring or fall, Clearwater State Recreation Site is an excellent place to observe sandhill cranes, swans, geese, and other migratory birds.A 2-to-4-day backpack to a high alpine pass in the Wrangell Mountains. The Dixie Pass hike follows Strelna Creek to its headwaters, climbing to the 5,150- foot alpine pass through alpine meadows and Dall sheep country. The view from the pass is magnificent, taking in the Chugach Mountains and the lower slopes of the Wrangell Mountains to the south, and to the north a cluster of jagged, glacier-carved peaks and the massive rock glacier at the head of Rock Creek, the drainage north of the pass. In good weather you can also see the ice-covered volcanic summits of the Wrangells to the north. Special features: Mountain scenery, Dall sheep, and challenging hiking on a trail/route with multiple stream crossings.The Delta is a small river flowing north out of Lower Tangle Lake through the highly scenic Amphitheater Mountains into the foothills of the Alaska Range. Beginning as a 16-mile string of clearwater lakes, the river flows for 22 miles before becoming cloudy with glacial silt. The scenery changes from open tundra to spruce and aspen forest as the valley widens. Vistas of 13,700-foot Mount Hayes and the rugged peaks and glaciers of the Alaska Range are outstanding. This is a popular float with intermediate boaters because of its road access and its length (it can be done in a three-day weekend). It's also popular with expert boaters because of the challenging whitewater at Black Rapids. Beginning at the boat launch at the Tangle Lakes campground, paddle through four of the Tangle Lakes, which are collected by shallow channels of moving water. During low water levels, lining canoes and rafts may be necessary for short distances.Dundas Bay is a special place that relatively few kayakers visit. Its upper reaches are definitely off the beaten track. It is part of Glacier Bay National Park, but since it lies 18 miles west of Bartlett Cove and only 6.5 miles north of Elfin Cove, it is described here. You are sure to see a lot of sea otters, river otters, black bears, deer, moose, and if you are lucky some wolves here. Ducks and geese are plentiful as well.Five miles up South Fork Eagle River lie silty-green Eagle Lake and its brilliant blue twin, Symphony Lake. These two lakes, one fed by glacial runoff and the other by rain and snowmelt, pose a vivid contrast best seen from a lookout point 900 feet above their shimmering waters. You can reach the lakes on a gentle trail worn by day hikers; a short climb up bare slopes past the trail’s end reaches the lookout. This hike is easily done in a day, but Eagle Lake also makes a good base for exploring more distant reaches of the park.A long day or overnight hike up Eagle River to Eagle Lake, Eagle River Falls, and a view of Eagle Glacier. Overall a pleasant forest hike with a few ups and downs, the trail to Eagle Lake ends with a bang, suddenly opening out on a grand view of Eagle Lake, the wild peaks and waterfalls above it, and Eagle Glacier as it twists its way down the canyon at the head of the lake. Also known as the Amalga Trail, the hike follows the route of what was once a horse tramway and trail leading to the now-vanished mining settlement of Amalga, which had its heyday from about 1905 to 1927. Special features: Eagle Lake and Glacier, a thundering waterfall, a fee cabin on the lake, and a rough, brushy spur route to an overlook of the glacier.Beginning in the Chugach Mountains of Chugach State Park, Eagle River emerges from Eagle Glacier as a cold, turbid, swift glacial stream. In its upper reaches, it is most known to those who traverse from Eagle River Valley over Crow Pass to Girdwood. This icy, knee-to waist-high crossing is forbidding to some but is only a minor inconvenience to the people who run the 28-mile Crow Pass Marathon. This section of the river is not generally accessible to boaters.Alaskan explorer Walter Mendenhall once called Eagle River Valley “a miniature Yosemite,” and every year more than 50,000 visitors find out why. In addition to stunningly sheer valley walls, these visitors find a wealth of gentle, wooded trails and the Eagle River Nature Center. The nature center, funded entirely by public donations and parking fees, offers natural history exhibits and educational programs such as guided nature walks, lectures, and children’s events. On any given day you might take part in a wild mushroom hunt, watch beavers build a dam and king salmon spawn, attend an astronomy program, or learn how to make syrup from birch sap. The nearby trails boast almost as much variety as the nature center itself. Within a few minutes’ walk of the center are a salmon viewing deck, a self-guided geology tour, and the banks of Eagle River. Longer walks lead farther up the valley, where a public-use cabin and two yurts (teepee-like domed tents constructed over wooden platforms and equipped with stoves) are available for nightly rent.This popular trail is utilized year-round by local Alaskans for most every type of outdoor recreational activity. The well-traveled, extremely scenic, and easy-to-follow trail allows for various means of travel. Many people bike this trail or use ATVs (on designated days), allowing them to make the out-and-back trip in one day. If you hike it, you will probably want to make it a two-day trip. The trail follows the Eklutna Lake shoreline for most of the way and then runs along glacial gravel bars. Waterfalls, steep canyon walls, and wildlife such as bears, moose, Dall sheep, mountain goats, and numerous bird species are prominent in the area.A variety of day hikes and backpack trips from the Eagle River Nature Center into the glacially carved Eagle River Valley. Eagle River Valley has so much going for it: miles and miles of hiking trails, a gorgeous, wildlife-rich setting, and the best nature center in Alaska. What more could you ask for? The valley and its trails have a colorful past. The Crow Pass Trail between Eagle River and Girdwood is part of the historic Iditarod Trail, the famous gold-rush-era trail between Seward, Iditarod, and Nome, and this segment crossed the highest summit on the historic trail. Further back in time, the valley lay under a wall of ice 4,000 feet thick at the height of glaciation a few thousand years back; the classic U-shape of the valley and the remnant ice hanging from some of the peaks are hints of its icy past. Moose, black bear, and grizzly frequent the valley, and there is a large Dall sheep population on the high ridges and in the upper reaches of the valley, with a permit-only sheep-hunting season in August and September. And, with as many as fifty species of wildflowers, good mushroom hunting, waterfalls, side canyons to explore, and challenging mountaineering for experienced climbers, there is plenty to keep you busy here. Hiking, scenery, and wildlife are the main events, but the private, nonprofit Eagle River Nature Center has a lot more to offer: natural history exhibits, a small bookstore, trail maps and information, and programs focused on everything from bears, beavers, berries, birds, and butterflies to galaxies, glaciers, and GPS receivers to “hunts” for mushrooms, orchids, and owls. For younger outdoor lovers, the center sponsors school and junior naturalist programs. Special features: A Yosemite-like valley, birding and wildlife watching, a wide variety of trails, an interpretive trail, a fee cabin and yurts, good backcountry camping, and one of Southcentral Alaska’s classic alpine traverses.When it established Chugach State Park in 1970, the Alaska Legislature insisted the new park’s lands and waters remain open to diverse uses. This is certainly the case with Eklutna Lake: in addition to being an outdoor mecca, it generates a substantial share of Anchorage’s electricity and provides the city with 35 million gallons of drinking water each day. Yet Eklutna?a gray-blue arc of a lake surrounded by sharp peaks?remains unspoiled. A typical summer day sees families strolling along the lakeshore, hikers heading for the alpine tundra at East Twin Pass, backpackers setting up tents at two campgrounds along the Lakeside Trail, boaters enjoying calm water along the lake’s 7-mile length, and mountaineers setting off on the demanding 30-mile Whiteout Glacier traverse to Girdwood. Eklutna takes these sundry visitors in stride, with room enough for all. The area’s main thoroughfare is the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, which runs 13 miles from the lake’s western shore to the doorstep of Eklutna Glacier. It provides access to several farther-flung trails, and also makes for a pleasant outing in its own right.This historical gold-rush route once connected the miners of Circle City to the supply post of Fairbanks. Today the rugged trail is accessible at several points along the Steese Highway and creates attractive easy day hikes. Some of the most scenic portions stretch through the high alpine tundra of the Twelvemile Wayside area.A long day trip or 2-to-3-day backpack up a striking river canyon into subalpine and alpine country. The East Fork Eklutna River is a swift glacial stream sandwiched between imposing mountain walls. To the west the cliffs of The Mitre, elevation 6,600 feet, plunge into the valley; to the east Chugach State Park’s highest peaks, topped by Bashful Peak at 8,005 feet, rise more than a vertical mile from the canyon floor. Waterfalls tumble from the heights to meet the river, and Dall sheep and mountain goats range high on the mountain walls. Special features: A vertical-walled valley, hanging valleys and waterfalls, remote alpine country, Dall sheep and mountain goats, and hunting access. Bike rentals for the Eklutna Lakeside Trail are available near the trailhead.Climb a narrow, stream-cut valley, unusual for the Chugach Mountains, from the seaside to an alpine lakeshore. Less well known than other valleys near Anchorage, the Falls Creek valley leads quickly to alpine country, nicely framed views of Cook Inlet, and impressive rock outcrops and cliffs that rise above the lake.This popular trail is utilized year-round by local Alaskans, with most every type of outdoor recreational activity available and extraordinary foliage colors in the fall. It is well traveled, extremely scenic, and allows for various means of travel.This small trail branches from the Eklutna Lakeside Trail, winds along Eklutna River’s eastern tributary, and leads past spectacular Tulchina Falls to the gateway of a backcountry wilderness. It’s best hiked as a day outing from Eklutna Alex or Kanchee Campgrounds (located at miles 8 and 10 of Lakeside Trail), though if you bike the Lakeside Trail you can easily make it a day trip from the trailhead. Adventurous hikers may want to press on past trail’s end and explore the upper East Fork Valley. Travel may be difficult below the brush line, but several clear side valleys beckon higher up. If you venture deep enough into the valley, you’ll even glimpse the icy fingers of Whiteout Glacier. Bring a topographical map and your sense of adventure.A long day hike or overnight trip to an alpine basin and a high ridge in the Chugach Mountains. A steep hike to a high tundra basin, the Falls Creek Trail threads its way up a narrow valley into the region of some of the highest peaks along Turnagain Arm. Wildflowers, wild mountains, Dall sheep, and the headwater tarn known locally as Falls Lake are all highlights of a visit to the Falls Creek drainage. In late summer the berries come out: blueberries, cranberries, crowberries, watermelon berries, salmonberries, and the poisonous baneberry. Two huge peaks?Indianhouse Mountain (4,350 feet) and South Suicide Peak (5,005 feet)?loom above the basin. Allow most of a long summer day for this seemingly short hike; the trail is rough, steep, and slow, and you’ll want to linger and enjoy the beauty of the place once you’ve expended the energy it tak