Top 7 Best Hikes in Alaska According to Hikers

best hikes in alaska

Ready to strap on those hiking boots and set off on an epic journey through the Alaskan wilderness? Perfect. You’ve come to the right place. But what’s the deal with this chilly destination? Is it actually worth the hype?

Absolutely. Venture up north to the last frontier, and it’ll reward you with picturesque panoramic views, wildlife sightings, and unforgettable hiking adventures. You’ll make enough memories (and get enough blisters) to last a lifetime — and it’ll all be worth it when you summit that peak. Whew! We have chills just thinking about it.

But it’s not all about conquering glaciers and high elevations. Alaska has trails for every type of hiker in every season. So whether you’re all about viewing the northern lights on a snowy winter trek or casually strolling lake-side trails, we’ll guide you towards the best of the best. Now let’s get to it!

Does Alaska Have Good Hiking?

alaska hiking

Does Alaska have good hiking?? Pshhhhhh ummm, YES!

It’s an understatement to say Alaskan hikes are good. There are hundreds of picturesque trails in renowned national parks that’ll take you high above the treeline, soaring through alpine meadows, and traversing glacial ice caves.

Cue Taylor Swift’s gold rush and take a step back in history when you conquer the Chilkoot Trail in Klondike or let out an emotional release scream high above the Kenai River Canyon. Push yourself to the limit on multi-day trails or mindfully wander through meditative meadows.

One of the best parts of hiking in Alaska (aside from the Instagrammable sights) is there really is something for everyone. From a simple, short hike on the wheelchair-accessible Mountain Vista Trail in Denali National Park to the most-climbed Alaskan peak, the Glen Alps Trailhead at the base of Flattop Mountain, beginners and experts alike fall in love with Alaskan treks.

But with so much choice, where are you even supposed to begin? We’ve got you covered.

The 7 Best Hiking Trails in Alaska

hiking trails

We aren’t lying. There are literally hundreds of hiking adventures you could take in this northern state. So how are you supposed to decide which ones are the most worthwhile? Don’t sweat (for now, at least). We’ve narrowed the list down to the top seven best hiking trails in Alaska that you won’t want to miss.

1. The Hardest Hiking Trail: Bonanza Mine Trail,  Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

bonanza mine trail

Distance: 9 miles (round trip)
Elevation gain: 3800 ft.
Difficulty level: Hard
Key Features: Old copper ore Bonanza Mine and mountain views

You’ll definitely get your steps in on this day hike through the last frontier. The popular trail starts with a stroll through the Kennecott Mill Town, yet in a half mile, you’ll find yourself on an epic trek alongside the old copper ore Bonanza Mine. 

You can almost hear the echoes of machinery in this historic site, but don’t let it distract from the stunning surrounding peaks of one of the most scenic hikes in southeast Alaska. FYI: you earn all the bragging rights after crushing this steep trail.

Bonanza Mine Trail – Alaska | AllTrails
Head out on this 8.30 mile, out and back trail near McCarthy, Alaska. Generally considered a challenging route, it takes an average of 5 h 24 min…
www.alltrails.com

2. Best Easy Hike: Horseshoe Lake Trail, Denali National Park

horseshoe lake trail

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation gain: -250 ft
Difficulty level: Easy
Key Features: Lake views, wildlife viewing (beaver dam!)

Let’s clear one thing up: easiness does not equal less enjoyable. Tucked just off Park Road slightly north of the Denali Visitor Center lays the stunning Horseshoe Lake Trail — an Alaskan must-see. 

After a quick elevation drop near the trailhead, you’ll find yourself submerged in the water-side tranquility. Enjoy lookout spots as you make your way through the loop, and keep your eyes peeled for a beaver dam sighting on the east side of the lake. (Dam puns highly recommended: “DAMN, wood you look at that beaver dam!” 😉)

3. Best for Winter Hiking: Exit Glacier Overlook Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park

exit glacier overlook

Distance: 2 miles
Elevation gain: 308 ft.
Difficulty level: Easy
Key Features: View of Exit Glacier, snowshoe opportunity

Channel that ’90s energy – we’re talkin’ ice, ice, baby! 

Of course, hiking in Alaska doesn’t stop once the winter snows come; you’ll just have to navigate the Exit Glacier road closures without cars. So strap on some snowshoes or cozy boots, then venture into the frozen wonderland that is the stunning Exit Glacier. 

Craving an extra challenge while on the Kenai Peninsula? Try the Harding Icefield Trail or Upper Kenai River Trail!

4. Best for Summer Hiking: Crow Pass Trail, Chugach State Park

summer hiking

Distance: 21 miles
Elevation gain: 3500 ft.
Difficulty level: Medium
Key Features: Waterfalls, wildflowers, iditarod trail history

You should go chasing waterfalls, alpine lakes, and flourishing wildflowers when trekking through the Chugach Mountains on the Crow Pass Trail. 

Drive the scenic Seward highway alongside Turnagain Arm, down Glenn Highway, and start your hiking adventures in Girdwood or at the Eagle River Nature Center. Get ready to camp with your fellow hikers on this multi-day trail. Just don’t forget the bear spray — the nearby Eagle River Valley may lend itself to a bear encounter!

5. Best Overnight Camping Hiking Trail: Chilkoot Trail, Klondike Gold Rush National Park

chilkoot trail hike

Distance: 33 miles
Elevation gain: 6043  ft.
Difficulty level: Hard
Key Features: Historic sites, backpacking, lake views

Got any history nerds around? This one’s for you. 

The historic Chilkoot Trail traces a former trade route from Alaska to Lake Bennett, British Columbia, used during the Klondike Gold Rush. You’ll blaze past forgotten artifacts and lush plant life on your way to the summit.

Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center to grab your permit before hitting the hiking trails!

6. Most Scenic Hiking Trail: Reed Lake Trail, Talkeetna Mountains

most scenic hiking trail

Distance: 9 miles (round trip)
Elevation gain: 2200 ft.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Key Features:
Lake views, bouldering/scrambling opportunity, waterfalls

We guarantee the Reed Lakes will leave you breathless — if not for their beauty, definitely for the elevation change. Stare in awe at the gorgeous twin peaks, cascading waterfalls, and granite-hued mountains contrasting the turquoise water of Upper Reed Lake. If heaven exists on earth, it’s here.

7. Best Wildlife Spotting Trail: Portage Pass Trail, Chugach National Forest

portage pass trail

Distance: 4 miles (round trip)
Elevation gain: 800 ft.
Difficulty level: Moderate-Hard
Key Features: Wildlife, Portage glacier, lake views

So get those cameras ready for the photo-ops, but don’t forget to admire the stunning view of the Portage Glacier too.

Join Explorer Chicks on an Alaskan Adventure

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Feeling stoked on Alaska now? We don’t blame you! Join a group of ladies all equally excited about seeing the Alaskan outdoors and getting their adventure fix with Explorer Chick’s multisport hiking, kayaking, glacier, and SHE-nanigan-filled tour.

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Meet the Writer

megan wray writer

Megan Wray

Megan Wray is a queer, mixed-race Japanese-Canadian freelance writer based on Treaty 1 Territory. Passionate about pleasure, identity, and anti-oppression, Megan’s fuelled by meaningful chats about topics that aren’t “appropriate” for dinner table conversation. When she’s not writing, you can find Megan cooking vegan food, singing to live music, and trying to understand astrology.

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