7 Alaska Hiking Trails and How to Make the Most of Them

Group hiking an Alaskan mountain range

No matter where you visit in the immense state of Alaska, you'll find Alaska adventure hiking trails nearby. Some hikers look for short day hikes, while others want an outdoor experience that includes mountain climbing, fishing, camping and even rafting. All can be found in the Alaskan wilderness.

Alaskan Hiking Resources

The climate and mountainous Alaskan terrain presents Alaska adventure trails for families as well as seasoned backpackers. Along with the thousands of trails, comes a variety of resources to help make your hiking adventure remain safe and comfortable.

For rugged backcountry hiking, hikers and campers can arrange to fly to and from the unspoiled trails.

If you're not sure where you want to hike in Alaska, numerous online resources provide maps, descriptions, highlights, and in some cases will help make travel arrangements. Here are a few sites to get you started:

Popular Alaska Hiking Trails

Alaska adventure hiking offers breathtaking features for hikers at any level. The majestic landscape offers something for everyone. Short day hikes of 10 miles or less on established trails introduce beginning hikers to the sport of Alaskan hiking while gaining valuable experience before moving on to more strenuous hikes or extended backpacking trips. The following chart highlights a few of the thousands of popular Alaskan trails:

Popular Alaska Hiking Trails
Kesugi Ridge Trail 2-4 day hike Talkeetna, Alaska This is a challenging 20-plus mile hike across an elongated alpine ridge crossing the Chulitna River basin at an elevation of 2,500-4,700 feet.
Deer Mountain Trail Long day trip or 2-3 day hike Ketchikan, Alaska This trail offers something for everyone including a beautiful panoramic mountain setting along alpine ridges that includes trail shelters.
Chilkoot Pass Trail 3-5 days Skagway, Alaska Hiking along the route followed by the Klondike Gold Rush, this trail takes you through the Coast Mountains from Alaska and into Canada. Along the way, hikers are likely to see artifacts from the gold rush with pristine forests, streams and lakes in the alpine country.
Harding Icefield Trail Long day hike Seward, Alaska This trail gradually climbs through forest and meadow and carries hikers to overlook the dark peaks of the ice field.
Crow Pass Trail Long day or 2-4 day overnight hike Girdwood, Alaska The Crow Pass Trail takes hikers along the highest point of the historic Iditarod Trail. This hike is a good choice for wildlife lovers as well as history buffs.
Byers Lake Trail Half-day or overnight hike Talkeetna, Alaska This trail makes a loop through forested Denali State Park and takes hikers around the lake where they'll experience wildlife like beavers and swans.
Russian Lakes Trail Short day or 2-4 day hike Seward, Alaska The Russian Lakes trail offers hikers the option of a short half day hikes to Lower Russian Lake or they can make it into a backpacking experience. For a fee, hikers can stay at one of three cabins located along the trail at various large mountain lakes.

Alaska Adventure Hiking Equipment

Other than a backpack, the equipment you'll need to enjoy your Alaska adventure hiking should include ways to keep you dry. Important basic items include:

  • Waterproof pack cover
  • Waterproof gaiters
  • Raingear
  • Two pairs of liner socks and four pairs of mid-weight socks (wool is good)

It's important to keep your feet dry. Wet socks combined with miles of hiking can create a crop of blisters, spoiling your adventure. Synthetic socks make good liners because they are fast drying.

Proper Alaskan Hiking Gear

Alaska's climate falls into five major zones. Wind, precipitation, elevation, and temperature variances influenced by seasons require hikers to prepare for anything. One way to hike comfortably in Alaska is to dress in layers. Be sure to include a mid-weight long sleeve synthetic top, mid-weight synthetic pant, and a pair of synthetic hiking shorts. Synthetic man-made fabrics not only wick moisture away from the body, but also provide superior insulation and dry faster than natural fabrics like cotton.

The purpose for the layer closest to your body will be to wick moisture away from the skin, while the middle layer provides insulation and protection from the elements. The outer layer provides more insulation from the wind and then if needed a shell layer like rain gear protects against rain and snow. With the proper gear, layered clothing and the trail that's right for your experience, Alaska will provide memories for a lifetime.

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7 Alaska Hiking Trails and How to Make the Most of Them