Hiking during the snowy, chilly months is by far the best way to enjoy all the winter wonderland beauty that the last frontier has to offer. The feeling that overcomes you when that first gasp of fresh air hits is something that can’t even be put into words. It is utterly transcending. Then, as you briskly begin to work up a sweat, your body will come alive and be awakened by the magical touch of the last frontier. Get ready for the greatest new addiction of your life…
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Where do we even being? This place is pure paradise! Enjoy the 1.92 million acre wildlife preserve on The Kenai, Alaska's Playground by heading to places like Skilak Lake Road in Sterling and Cooper Landing for epic hiking trails. The trails are unlimited and the fun is undeniably unmatched. There are also lots of awesome forest service cabins that make a winter hiking experience all that more fun and exciting. Because, why not stay a while and make the experience last as long as possible?
2. Spaulding Meadows
Enjoy the epic beauty of Lena Cove and Auke Bay by hiking three miles into the John Muir Cabin in the Tongass National Forest. To access this trail, hop on the Spaulding Meadows/Auk Nu trail-head off of the Glacier Highway in Juneau.
3. Burns Glacier
Head to Whittier and get ready for the time of your life. From the middle glacier, to byron glacier, to burns glacier - Portage Pass has something larger-than-life for anyone and everyone to enjoy. If you're looking for a profound 'Only In Alaska' moment, this is hands down where you will find it.
4. Powerline Pass
Just 20 minutes from downtown Anchorage is another great hike in the Chugach State Park. Enjoy 14 miles of epic, rugged beauty in the Glen Alps with some pretty phenomenal city views on the way up. Pick a portion and enjoy the recent snowfall, but be sure to bundle up before heading outside. The wind tunnels in the mountains can pick up unexpectedly and leave you wishing you didn't forget to wear that extra layer.
5. Milo Lakes
Located in the Mat-Su Borough in the town of Willow is this lovely little recreation area that is perfect for enjoying winter wonderland in Alaska, without the crowds. Hop on the Lynx Lake Loop and enjoy a gently rolling path with endless views of trees, frozen lakes and utter peace and quiet.
6. White Mountains
Fairbanks and Interior hiking trails are filled with beauty and natural wonder. Although, sometimes the temps are far too frigid to get out and enjoy all the amazing sights. Off Nome Creek Road in Fairbanks, hike Table Top Mountain and find yourself deep in the White Mountains National Recreation Area with panoramic winter wonderland views in every single direction.
7. Admiralty Island
Although there aren't many 'designated trails' on this remote island in the Alexander Archipelago in Southeast Alaska, there are still so many phenomenal places to explore during the snowy winter months. Go immerse yourself in the land where the bears outnumber the human population and enjoy the breathtaking beauty that surrounds you.
8. Turnagain Arm
The Turnagain Arm between Anchorage and Girdwood holds many precious winter wonderland secrets. Head down to Beluga Point for a view overlooking the boar tide or up to McHugh Falls to a soak in a panoramic view overlooking Cook Inlet with Sleeping Lady in the far distance.
9. Knoya Peak
If Alaska's largest city of Anchorage is your home base, you'll probably end up getting addicted to the Chugach State Park this winter (if you aren't already). Just 20 minutes from downtown, Knoya Peak is a great place to get deep into the mountains. This eight-mile trek can easily be an all day experience, or just do portions of the trails with your fur babies and enjoy instant views from the second you step out of your vehicle.
Hop on the 1.2 mile Battery Point Trail to enjoy shoreline vistas with epic mountain views. With access to Mt. Riley, climb deep into the back-country and decompress from the daily routine by enjoying Alaska's untouched outdoors.
11. Tongass National Forest
From Juneau to Sitka, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Prince of Wales and everywhere in between - the widely spreading Tongass National Park can be found with numerous trails that are perfect for year-round use. As the largest national forest in the United States, this temperate rainforest looks effortlessly breathtaking when covered with a fresh blanket of snow. You'll never forget the views of the massive Sitka Spruce trees covered in heavy snow.
12. Peterson Lake
This special forest service cabin located in the Tongass National Forest is an exceptional place to enjoy a snowshoeing, cross country skiing or winter hiking getaway. To access this cabin, hike 4.5 miles from the Peterson Lake Trailhead off the Glacier Highway in Juneau.
13. Salmon Creek
Juneau is a magical place, and this trail is no exception. The trailhead for the Salmon Creek trail is behind the Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.'s powerhouse at mile 2.5 Egan Drive. The trail itself is an easy three-mile walk with a steep climb at the end. Originally built in 1914, this historic trail was originally built as a tramway to carry supplies to workers that were constructing the dam nearby.
The Lower Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood is an easy three-mile hike that leads to some pretty unforgettable places, one of which being a hand tram over a scenic creek, the other being the historic Crow Creek Mine. The Upper Winner Creek Trail continues on for nine miles and leads through Berry Pass and down to Twentymile River.
15. Rainbow Lake Trail
Head into the beautiful Chugach National Forest in Cooper Landing for a sweet little walk in the woods. Turn onto Snug Harbor Road and 11.5 miles down, where the road turns from pavement into gravel and becomes Cooper Lake Road. You'll see a trailhead in the parking lot area, and where it will lead you is positively enchanting. The trail itself is about a half mile long, making it the perfect distance to enjoy the quietness of winter wonderland without being outside in the cold for too long.
16. Boy Scout Beach
Sometimes the best hiking trails are actually just casual strolls along the beach. This place in Juneau has been dubbed as the 'best sunset beach' in the area, so be sure to time your winter wonderland stroll appropriately and soak in a colorful sunset while you're at it. Don't forget to bring your camera to enjoy the great photo opportunities! This little secret beach can be found at mile 25 where there is a road off Glacier Highway.
Hop on the scenic and wildly popular Exit Glacier Trail in Seward and hike right up to the glacier, in just a couple of miles. Or use caution and enjoy the steep slopes of Mt. Marathon. While you're at it, take a nice hike through town and enjoy the epic views from the waterfront or a peaceful beach view at Miller's Landing toward Caines Head State Recreation Area.
18. Wolverine Peak
If trail running or bagging summits is the name of your game, this phenomenal spot is where you need to fuel your adrenaline rush. Climb high into the clouds and enjoy some of the freshest air in the world! Best of all, it's located in the Chugach State Park so it's only a hop, skip and jump away from downtown Anchorage. The excursion itself is an 8.6-mile lightly trafficked out and back trail, so be prepared for a mighty climb. Or, do like we do and just bag a few miles and return home before sunset.