Just a quick 45-minute drive south from Anchorage, the Lower Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood is a popular day hike, with good reason. The path travels through the boreal forest, over an epic gorge with whitewater rushing below, and to an old-fashioned hand tram! You will pull yourself across the trashing Glacier Creek in a elevator sized tram car. This fun, easy trail is a great adventure for everyone. Head to the Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood for a great day of hiking fun.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, since the time of publication, the hand tram has since closed.
Girdwood Trail Map Here.
The Winner Creek Trail starts behind the Alyeska Tram Building in the charming mountain town of Girdwood. Access the trailhead from the Alyeska Hotel lower lot, free parking is provided.
The Lower Winner Creek Trial is an easy 3-mile trek that heads through the forest following Winner Creek and ending at Crow Creek Road. The wide, flat trail is accessible to everyone and only rises 300 feet in elevation throughout.
The first 3/4 mile is along a boardwalk and the next 1.5 miles is on a smooth dirt path. You can take extra time at any of the bridges to explore the creek, the sandy shores, and the abundant plant life of the rainforest.
The Alyeska Resort welcomes travelers to use the parking lot and the trails. Travelers are encouraged to take these precautions against bear attacks when hiking in the area: hike in groups, talk, sing, and make noise, wear a bear bell, and hike during daylight hours. The trails are open at all times except rare occasions when construction or weather damage forces closure.
At this point, the first exciting feature appears: the Winner Creek Gorge. The entire rushing creek is squeezed into a narrow constriction of solid rock only 15 feet wide. A sturdy bridge takes you over.
The hand tram is operational in the summer months. It does get iced up and the far side can be glacied in the winter. Best to try crossing Memorial Day through October.
For those who love the heart pounding thrill, hang out in the middle (if no one is waiting), take a selfie, and relish the feeling of flying high over a roaring river.
The tram was built with modern engineering from 1996-2001 and is completely safe. Two people at a time can traverse the river. If you are biking, you can even put your bike on the hand tram.
Many people turn around after crossing on the hand tram. You can continue another mile down to the road and leave a car there, or simply return the way you came. The hike takes 2.5 hours If you go to Crow Creek Road and back.
The trail is also excellent for fat biking and running, as long as you are mindful of others. It is 2.5 miles to the hand tram and another .75 to Crow Creek Road. From there you can take the Alyeska Road back to the hotel for a 7.7 mile workout.
Spend a day hiking in the glorious Chugach Mountains of Girdwood to a thrilling hand tram! You'll never forget this adventure in Alaska.
For more great hikes, check out
If There Are Only 5 Hikes You Ever Do In Alaska, Make Them These. While you’re in Girdwood, head to the This Ghost Forest Hiding In Alaska Is Hauntingly Beautiful and This Conservation Center Is One Of The Best Places To See Wildlife In All Of Alaska.
Have you been to the Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood? Tell us about it in the comments below.
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