Hiking in Alaska promises rugged wilderness, unspoiled natural beauty, and amazing wildlife sightings. With hundreds of hiking trails and spectacular national parks to explore, there are endless options for those who choose to wander into Alaska’s wild terrain.
Whether you’re a beginner who simply wants to walk through gentle nature paths or an advanced hiker ready to climb a glacier, there are plenty of different trail options throughout the state that are suited for all ability levels.
From treks that retrace the steps of the Gold Rush to scenic strolls in Tongass National Forest, here are some of the best hikes in Alaska for you to experience on your next trip to the Last Frontier.
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau
In Juneau, the capital of Alaska, go on a thrilling hike to one of Alaska’s most accessible glaciers, Mendenhall Glacier.
Located at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, this 13-mile-long glacier is part of the Juneau Ice Field and one of the city’s most popular natural attractions. While a visit to the park provides spectacular views of the glacier from afar, one of the best ways to experience this icy natural wonder is by going on a hiking trail that gets you up close and personal.
There are multiple trails to choose from to reach Mendenhall Glacier when hiking in Alaska, and most routes usually take anywhere between two to three hours to reach the face of the glacier. Along the way, you’ll enjoy lovely views of Mendenhall Lake, where you’ll see large icebergs floating in the water. On some trails, you’ll be able to admire a 377-foot waterfall, too. Be on the lookout for salmon swimming upstream or even black bears trying to feast on them.
Chilkoot Trail, Skagway
Follow in the footsteps of Gold Rush seekers as you make your way through the Chilkoot Trail, a 33-mile route through the mountains that was once used by those hoping to strike gold in the Yukon River. Today, it’s a designated U.S. National Historic Landmark.
Though the full trail takes a few days, if you’re a beginner hiker or are short on time, then you can hike a small portion of it. The picturesque stroll includes unforgettable views of alpine lakes, Gold Rush artifacts, colorful wildflower fields, and lush fjords in the distance. It’s one of the best hikes in Alaska for both history buffs and nature enthusiasts.
Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward
In Seward, head to the stunning Kenai Fjords National Park, where mountains, icebergs, and the towering Exit Glacier await. Almost half of this park is covered in ice, mainly by the Harding Icefield, which spawns off over 40 glaciers.
Experience what it’s like to see one of Alaska’s best glaciers up close by going on one of the trails leading up to Exit Glacier, most of them suited for all levels of hikers. Walk past markers that point out how much the glacier has receded throughout the years, and learn all about the vegetation that has taken over the barren landscape.
One of the most popular trails is the Edge of the Glacier trail, which is not only wheel-chair accessible but also leads you to one of the best spots to take a photo with the glistening ice of Exit Glacier in the background.
Chichagof Island, Icy Strait Point
In the port of Icy Strait Point, explore the wilderness of Chichagof Island, the fifth-largest island in the United States and one of the best places to go hiking in Alaska.
Located within the Tongass National Forest, Chichagof Island has the highest population of brown bears per square mile and is home to several Tlingit communities, including Hoonah, the largest Tlingit village in the world.
Go on a nature hike around Chichagof Island’s rugged surroundings, and enjoy lovely panoramic views of the Spasski River Valley, lush fjords, and local wildlife, like the island’s brown bears and perhaps even a humpback whale in the distance.
Mount Roberts, Juneau
One of the best things to do in Juneau is to go on a hike up Mount Roberts Trail, where you’ll trek among wildflowers and wildlife. Hike from the bottom of the mountain all the way up to its summit, or take a scenic tram up to the Mount Roberts Mountain House, where you’ll be standing 1,800 feet above sea level and enjoy some of the best views of Juneau in the distance.
Once you’re done taking photos of the view, start the hike up to Mount Roberts, one of the best mountains in Alaska, where you’ll be surrounded by mountain peaks and alpine meadows and may encounter bald eagles, deer, mountain goats, and even black bears along the way.
Talkeetna Lakes Park, Talkeetna
Evergreen woods, Alaskan wildlife, and gorgeous nature views are all a part of the experience when hiking around Talkeetna Lakes Park, just outside of the town of Talkeetna.
Along the park’s scenic three-and-a-half mile walking trail, you’ll trek through the area’s dense woods and sparkling lakes, where you can hop on a canoe or go fishing. Don’t forget to bring a pair of binoculars too, as the park is home to over 100 different bird species.
Denali National Park, Denali
One of the best national parks in Alaska, Denali National Park is a sprawling paradise filled with glacial rivers, frozen tundra, snow-capped mountains, and the highest peak in North America, Denali.
There are a few marked trails around the park, such as the popular Horseshoe Lake Trail, where you’ll see one of the best views of the Nenana River; the Triple Lakes Trail, Denali’s longest trail, where you’ll pass by three spectacular lakes; and the Savage River Loop Trail, which is suitable for kids and takes you through the park’s tundra, where you’ll most likely see Dall sheep and caribou.
Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka
Established in 1890, Sitka National Historical Park is Alaska’s oldest park—and also its smallest. The park was created as a tribute to the Battle of Sitka between the Russians and the local Tlingit tribe, which took place at the site in 1804.
The park is a wonderful family-friendly destination offering kid-centered activities and easy yet scenic trails. Amble along the Russian Memorial Loop Trail, a gentle path that boasts impressive views of the area’s coastline and snow-capped mountains on the horizon.
The highlight of the park is the Totem Trail, also known as Lover’s Lane, where you’ll find 18 original and replica Native American totem poles. Go on a guided walk of the 1.6-mile-long trail, and learn all about the Battle of Sitka, the culture of Alaska Natives, and what each different totem pole represents.
During your hike, you’ll also cross the Indian River, where you’ll watch salmon make their way upstream to spawn.
Laughton Glacier, Skagway
Hop aboard the White Pass Railroad, a scenic vintage train ride that takes you past cascading waterfalls, glacial rivers, and snowy mountain peaks.
Once the train ride ends, you’ll disembark and begin your hike towards Laughton Glacier. Along the moderate trail, you’ll discover gorgeous flora and fauna, and spot local animals including moose, bears, and mountain goats.
As you get closer to Laughton Glacier, you’ll have to navigate trickier terrain including a rocky boulder field. Once you reach the icy structure, marvel at its frozen blue facade, take photos of its exposed crevasses, or put on a pair of ice spike boots and climb on top of the glacier.
Mount Alyeska, Girdwood
The Girdwood Valley is a nature lover’s dream. Surrounded by the lush Chugach Mountains, this glacial carved valley features hiking trails up Mount Alyeska, ranging from easy to advanced.
While you can take an aerial tram up to Mount Alyeska’s summit, there are marked trails that journey up the mountain and through the temperate rainforest. Some of them traverse over pathways that are used as ski trails in the winter.
Throughout your hike, you’ll see wildflower fields and moss-covered boulders. At the top, marvel at the famous seven hanging glaciers and the peaceful stillness of the waters of Turnagain Arm.
Tongass National Forest
Tongass National Forest is one of Alaska’s crown jewels. Spanning over 500 square miles (or roughly the size of West Virginia), Tongass National Forest is the largest temperate forest in the world and can be accessed throughout major Alaskan cities like Sitka, Skagway, and Ketchikan.
From downtown Ketchikan, head up the clearly marked gravel paths and make your way past alpine lakes, climbing waterfalls, and verdant rainforest. Take in the gorgeous landscape full of snow-covered mountains and panoramic views of Ketchikan below. Be on the lookout for wildlife including soaring bald eagles, wolves, black bears, and mountain goats.
Make your way through the forest’s tree canopies, where you’ll be surrounded by red cedar trees, hemlock, alders, and spruce, along with berry bushes such as salmonberries, blueberries, and huckleberries.
In Sitka, go on a hike around Thimbleberry Trail, a route that promises spectacular views of the rainforest’s mountains, trees, and lakes. Or take a walk along Mosquito Cove Trail, where you’ll pass through a hemlock-spruce forest, stroll next to the coast, and spot birds at the Starrigavan Estuary.
Regardless of where you decide to enter while hiking in Alaska, venturing into Tongass National Forest promises an unforgettable journey into the state’s unbounded beauty.
Denver Glacier Trail, Skagway
Sightseeing opportunities abound during a hike on the Denver Glacier Trail in Skagway. After taking a six-mile train ride on the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway, you’ll stop near a caboose cabin that marks the beginning of the Denver Glacier Trail, an easy route that runs parallel to the East Fork of the Skagway River.
Enjoy this mostly flat walk inside a coastal forest, where you can enjoy one of the most memorable things to do in Skagway—spotting bears, moose, and other Alaskan wildlife. Stop and enjoy the natural beauty of the Tongass National Forest, where you’ll see stunning vistas of the Sawtooth Mountains and lovely views of the river nearby. At the end of the trail, you’ll spot the terminus of the Denver Glacier peeking from high above—the perfect reward for all of your hard work.
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