Hiking in the 49th state is what dreams are made of. The mysterious lakes that pop up out of nowhere, high elevations that provide sweeping vistas, lush rainforest with light breezes and cool shade, gleaming glaciers that sparkle in the distance and miles upon miles of “pinch me because I can’t believe this is real” moments. The real, raw honesty in this article is that we could spend every single day of our lives hiking in Alaska, and we would never be able to check off every epic place on our ever-growing bucket list. So for starters, check out these 20 trails in the last frontier that will lead you to unforgettable places – and get to movin’ and groovin’!
1. Portage Pass
Short and sweet - just how we like em'! Drive through the tunnel to Whitter and take the short gravel road on the right (almost directly after coming out of the tunnel). 750-foot elevation gain will lead you to unforgettable views of Portage Glacier, Prince William Sound and a beautiful beach.
2. Barometer Mountain – Kodiak
At only about 4 miles round trip, you'll still gain over 2,500 feet in elevation. If you want the true 'island life' lookout experience, this is a MUST when visiting Kodiak. Just remember to be aware of wildlife along the way and be prepared for the steep incline coming up and loose shale coming down.
3. Indian River Trail – Sitka
Easily accessible within walking distance of downtown Sitka, those who embark on this memorable 4.5-mile hike (one way) will be stunned by what they see. Enjoy the 70 foot waterfall, fishy filled river and about 1000 foot elevation gain with rewarding views the higher you get.
4. Chilkoot Trail – Skagway
33 miles of international beauty starts in the town of Skagway and winds all the way through Canada’s Yukon Territory and ends at Lake Bennett.
5. Kesugi Ridge
Located just outside of Denali National Park, this breathtaking hiking spot should be on everyone's "life list" - it's THAT good. Start the journey at Coal Creek trailhead on the George Parks Highway (mile 164) and end at Byers Lake trailhead (mile 147).
6. Lost Lake - Kenai Peninsula
Access this epic hiking spot at two separate locations: Primrose Campground on Kenai Lake (Mile 17 of the Seward Highway) or from Mile 5 of the Seward Highway. This 14-mile trail is perfect for hiking, running and even mountain biking. Make it an overnight trip and camp on the soft tundra by the stunning Lost Lake.
7. Crow Pass
24 miles of Southcentral Alaska paradise. From the groovy town of Girdwood ending at the Eagle River Nature Center, hikers here can enjoy fantastic views of Raven Glacier and the Eagle River Valley.
8. Deer Mountain Trail – Ketchikan
Arguably the best and most iconic hiking spot in the area, hikers can expect to enjoy lush rainforest, stunning sights at Blue Lake and about 3,000 feet of total elevation gain. Total distance is about 5 miles round trip from trail head to summit.
9. Mount Marathon - Seward
This 3-mile round-trip hike will give you the most spectacular views of Seward and the Kenai Fjords National Park from high in the sky. Almost straight up, you can expect to gain about 3,022 feet in elevation before reaching the summit.
10. Wickersham Dome Trail
About an hour from Fairbanks, you'll drive 28 miles on the Elliott Highway from Fox. Here you will be able to access this phenomenal hiking spot in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. Enjoy well over 200 miles of hiking. It's the perfect place to load the dogs up and get out for a day of adventure, without the crowds.
11. Twin Peaks Trail - Eklutna Lake
This 5-mile hike (one way) offers multiple areas for you to stop and enjoy a great view, and turn around if you're tired. With over 5,000 feet of elevation gain going up, it's rated moderate/difficult. But the views of Eklutna Lake and potentially endless herds of Dall Sheep make it all worth it. It is a spectacular experience that you are sure to remember for a lifetime.
12. Hatcher Pass – Palmer
Hike in the stunning Talkeetna Mountains for hours on end. Enjoy lakes, berry picking, wildlife viewing, stunning vistas and an unlimited amount of outdoor activities.
13. Exit Glacier - Seward
Check out the stunning Exit Glacier or keep going along the Harding Ice Field trail. This glorious spot is conveniently accessed from the town of Seward and is (hands down) one of the best trails in the entire state of Alaska.
14. Gunsight Mountain
As you climb almost 6,441 feet you will be able to enjoy incredible views of Matanuska Glacier on a clear day. Because of the high elevation, it's important to watch for weather patterns before and during your trek in this area. The easiest way to start your hike here is by going to the big gravel pit at Mile 113.5 on the Glenn Highway, and head up.
15. Mt. Healy Overlook – McKinley Village
For an unforgettable view of McKinley Village, the Nenana River, Healy and into Denali National Park - hike the Mt. Healy Overlook trail. 2.5 miles up and about 1,700 feet of elevation gain.
16. Mount Roberts Alpine Loop Trail – Juneau
1,800 feet up in Alaska's capital city of Juneau will give you stunning views of Glacier Bay National Park, British Columbia, the Panhandle, Gastineau Channel and the Admiralty Island National Monument. Take the tramway up and enjoy a day of fun in the great outdoors.
17. Skilak Lake Overlook - Cooper Landing
Just off Skilak Lake Road in Cooper Landing is access to this 5-mile round-trip trail that delivers fantastic views of Skilak Lake, Kenai River and the Chugach Mountains. It is a moderate hike that is easily accessible and great for friends and families to enjoy together.
18. South Fork to Triangle Peak
If you're up for the exercise challenge, many complete this 17-mile trip in one day, however your best bet is to enjoy the journey and camp at Eagle and/or Symphony Lakes. On the way, go through cool boulder fields and enjoy spotting many dall sheep.
19. Tutka Bay
Just a short boat ride from Alaska's 'Halibut Fishing Capital of the World' of Homer, you will find the stunning surroundings of Tutka Bay. Head over for a day hike and make it all the way up to the summit. Or stay for a few days and explore many different hiking trails both groomed and off the beaten path.
20. Auke Lake Trail – Juneau
Originally build to access the John Muir Cabin, this trail is filled with history. Access the Spaulding Meadows and enjoy great views of the Chilkat Mountains, Admiralty Island and the Gastineau Channel.