15 Best Hikes In Alaska + Top Tips For Hiking In Alaska

This post may contain affiliate links. This means that for any qualifying purchase you make through one of my links, I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you. For more information, check out my disclosure.

Are you looking for the best hikes in Alaska? You are in the right place! I visited Alaska on a recent hiking group trip and enjoyed hitting the trails every day!

It is no secret that I am a hiking fanatic. I never miss an opportunity to go on a hike at home in Sardinia, and hiking is always a major component of my trips, wherever in the world I travel. Hiking in Alaska is a real treat. The landscape is simply breathtaking, there are lots of opportunities to see wildlife, and the trails are very well kept.

If you are preparing for a trip to Alaska, you should definitely fit a hike or ten in your itinerary. If you are unsure which trails to hit, don’t worry. In this post I will share essential information for hiking Alaska’s best trails as based on my experience.

But there’s more! I have asked a bunch of my blogging friends to share their pick for the best hikes in Alaska too, so you will have even more choices. From the Harding Icefield to the Savage Alpine Trail, from Flattop Mountain to Mount Healy, you will have plenty of choice for your hiking trip to Alaska.

At the end of this post you will also find some useful tips for hiking in Alaska, so that you will know what to wear for your hike, what to pack with you for the day, and some basic safety rules.

Keep in mind that the trails included in this post are literally a selection of the best hikes in Alaska – there are many more trails than those mentioned. But I wanted to make sure you get first-hand recommendations from me and from other people I know!

For more information about traveling to Alaska, you should read my post What You Need To Know Before You Visit Alaska.

You should also plan your visit by reading my post What To See And Do In Alaska.

best hikes in Alaska
Posing along the Harding Icefield hike

The Best Hikes In Alaska

Harding Icefield (Kenai Fjords National Park)

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 8.5 miles (13.8 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 3,199 feet / 975 meters

There is no doubt that the Harding Icefield is one of the best hikes in Alaska. This out-and-back hike is probably the most challenging we did during my trip to Alaska, partially because it rained heavily throughout the hike and I got entirely soaked (which in turn made me uncomfortable).

Interestingly though, the rain did not stop us from having magnificent views throughout the day and for this reason, this was probably the hike I enjoyed the most.

Harding Icefield
The Harding Icefield

Rain aside, the trail – which is very easy to follow but on rocky and uneven terrain – is a steep uphill all the way to the end of trail which is where you get the best views of the icefield. There are several spots where you can stop for views along the way, including Marmot Meadows and the Top of the Cliffs viewpoint.

The first part of the hike is through the forest, and you will be surrounded by vegetation, but as you get closer to the icefield there is almost no vegetation and the view opens up, and you can see Exit Glacier too.

There are high chances of meeting wildlife along the way: someone spotted a bear close to the trail the day we hiked, and we saw a moose too. Make sure to stop by the visitors’ center for updated information about the trail before you start walking.

For more information about this hike, read my post What You Need To Know Before Hiking The Harding Icefield Trail.

hiking in Alaska
Views along the Savage Alpine Trail

Savage Alpine Trail (Denali National Park)

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 4.1 miles (6.6 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,450 ft (442 meters) (around 900 feet – 274 meters – just in the first mile!)

Most people hike the Savage Alpine Trail in Denali National Park hoping to see Mount Denali, but this is a wonderful hike regardless of that. In fact, when we hiked the trail it was overcast and we could not catch even a glimpse of the glorious mountain.

This is one of the hardest point-to-point short trails in Alaska, starting at the Savage River Loop trailhead and getting all the way to Mountain Vista. What makes it hard is the elevation gain which is almost all in the first 1/3 of the hike, until you get to the first overlook. This means you have to puff and push until you get past it, and then it becomes easier.

Savage River
Panoramic views of the Savage River

But there’s a significantly easier way to do it if you are not a fan of hiking up! If you start in Mountain Vista, the climb is going to be more gradual. However, you will have a steep way down.

For the most part of the hike there is only very low vegetation and bushes. The forest gets a bit thicker as you get close to Mountain Vista.

As this is a point-to-point hike, you will have to find a way to travel back to your car once you finish the hike. The good news is that there is a good (and free) shuttle bus system working in the park that you can count on.

If you are interested in doing this hike, my post How To Hike The Savage Alpine Trail will help you with even more detailed information.

Horseshoe Lake Trail
Horseshoe Lake Trail is one of the easiest hikes in Alaska

Horseshoe Lake Trail (Denali National Park)

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 2.1 miles (3.4 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 430 feet / 131 meters

This very easy loop hike in Denali National Park is perfect if you enjoy walking in the forest. The well-marked trail is actually perfect for trail running if you are keen.

The loop takes you to a beautiful lake with very clear emerald waters – though I fear it’s always too cold to swim in it. There are beaver damns and lots of birds in the forest, so bring your binoculars. Otters are also spotted there.

As this is a much easier trail, you may want to combine it with something else – for example, as a cool-down hike to do after the Savage Alpine Trail, since they are both in the Denali National Park.

Keep in mind that while this trail is easy for the most part, there are a few places where you’ll have to go over some steep steps.

best hikes in Alaska
Mount Healy Overlook Trail

Mount Healy Overlook Trail (Denali National Park)

Adam and Kathryn, Adventures of A+K

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 4.9 miles (7.8 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,722 feet / 524 meters

There are so many incredible hikes in Alaska, but one of the absolute best that you should consider is the Mount Healy Overlook Trail in Denali National Park. With only 35 miles of actual developed trails throughout the park, this is one of the few they have to offer and is worth the work.

During this out-and-back hike you’ll get to enjoy some of the best views in the state from the Alaska Range and if you’re lucky then you’ll catch a glimpse of the top of Denali. The first 2.4 miles (3.8) of the hike are through the trees with the remainder getting stunning views of the surrounding snow-capped mountains and valley below as you walk.

The 4.9 miles (7.8 km) noted above will get you to the overlook, which is where most hikers will stop. For an added challenge, continue another 2 miles (3.2 km) and 800 feet (244 meters) of elevation gain to the summit.

Do your best to go on this hike on a clear day for the best views and chances of seeing Denali. We didn’t see any exciting wildlife during our experience hiking the Mount Healy Overlook Trail, but there are plenty of bears in Denali National Park, so it’s important to always carry bear spray!

Getting there is easy as the trailhead is right at the visitors center where there is a restroom and there is ample parking.

Mount Denali
Mount Denali as seen from Curry Ridge Trail

Curry Ridge (Denali State Park)

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 6.5 miles (10.5 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,100 feet / 335 meters

This is one of the nicest out-and-back hikes near Talkeetna, and a great one to do if you want to see Mount Denali. Again, remember that what you get to see really depends on the weather conditions. For once we were lucky to see Denali!

The hike is moderate (though some people in our group found it hard and about halfway up they decided to walk back down to the van), and it is almost entirely uphill on the way to the viewpoint from where you can continue to Lake 1787.

The lake is a nice and short addition to the hike (0.25 miles or just 400 meters), but there are tons of mosquitoes as you approach it so keep this in mind if you intend to go.

The Curry Ridge trail is very well marked and easy to follow, and the terrain is mostly good though it can get extremely muddy (and actually flooded too) in case of rain.

Depending on the day of the week, you are bound to meet quite a few other people during the hike – it’s a popular one in the area. We did it on a Monday so it was really quiet!

Best hikes in Alaska
With stunning views, this is definitely one of the best hikes in Alaska

Rabbit Creek Trail (Chugach State Park)

Susanna Shankar, Curiosity Saves Travel

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 8.6 miles (14 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,515 feet / 462 meters

Surrounded by mountains, it’s no wonder one of the top things to do in Anchorage is go for a hike! Chugach State Park is one of the best places for hiking in Alaska, with Rabbit Creek Trail – a point-to-point hike – being a local favorite. From the Rabbit Creek Trailhead parking lot, the path follows an old dirt road – be prepared for obstacles here, such as rocks, mud, and dips.

The trail continues a long climb, turning into single-track switchbacks while views of the mountains and surrounding valley start to appear. It is common to spot wildlife in this area, from moose popping out from the trees to bears roaming the valley, so hike cautiously.

Finally, after reaching the top of the knoll and crossing the tree line, the views extend into the valley, and eventually, the trail begins to ease up as Rabbit Lake comes into sight. The end destination, Rabbit Lake, is nestled in a valley surrounded by mountains.

Enjoy the view and a snack before returning, though many locals will wild camp here overnight. Don’t forget to pay the fee for parking. Dress in layers as the weather can change suddenly. Pack food and water, and pack out everything as there are no facilities.

Portage Pass
Posing with my Sardinian flag on the Portage Pass hike

Porgage Pass (Chugach State Park)

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Moderate to strenuous
TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 4.4 miles (7.1 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,424 feet / 434 meters

This out-and-back hike near Whittier was one of my favorites during my trip to Alaska. The fact that it did not train that day definitely helped (though don’t count on it!) as it meant we had breathtaking views throughout.

The hike is usually classified as moderate, but let me point out that the first part of the trail is actually a very steep uphill (you gain 700 feet – 231 meters – in less than a mile) and you’ll also have to go uphill as you walk back from the lake, so don’t be misled by the shorter mileage.

The views of Portage Glacier in the Chugach Mountains as you approach the lake are absolutely gorgeous. There are high chances of seeing wildlife during the hike: we saw a mama bear in the distance, with a cub.

The lake is also the perfect spot for a picnic, so make sure to bring some sandwiches and a blanket to sit down.

best hikes in Alaska
Standing at the top of a very windy Flattop Mountain

Flattop Mountain (Chugach State Park)

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Moderate to strenuous
TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 2.5 miles (4.5 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 1,345 feet / 410 meters

The Flattop Mountain trail is one of the most popular hikes near Anchorage and a perfect place for a day out of town. Since it is so close to the city (it will take you about 30 minutes to drive to the parking lot by which the trailhead is located), this is a very frequented place on any regular day and especially at the weekend. You are bound to meet other people during the hike.

This was actually my first hike in Alaska, and I must say I was initially completely misled about its difficulty. The trail starts off nice and easy. You will think it’s nothing more than a walk. Eventually, you get to a spot where the more serious climb begins, and it’s quite steep.

going up on Flattop Mountain
climbing to the top of Flattop Mountain

And after that, there’s an even more technical bit where you have to almost climb until you get to Flattop.

Once you are at the top, the views are incredible – you can see all the way to Anchorage and the sea. Going back down you can follow the same trail entirely, or pick a different trail at the intersection and then join the main one again

The trail is well-marked and easy to follow. You may spot moose while you hike and this is also a popular area for blueberry picking!

hiking in Alaska
East Twin Peak

East Twin Peak (Chugach State Park)

Julie Chickery, Chickery’s Travels

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 8.1 miles (13 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 4,891 feet / 1,491 meters

If you’re up for a challenge, then you’re going to want to head to Chugach State Park just outside Anchorage, Alaska. The East Twin Peak trail is a treasure trove of natural beauty and breathtaking vistas with a chance to see wildlife such as moose, Dall sheep, and black bears making it one of the best things to do in Alaska.

The out-and-back East Twin Peak trail is rated difficult with steep inclines and rocky sections, but it is worth the effort. After 2.5 miles (4 km) of a steady uphill hike (about 1,500 feet – 457 meters – elevation gain), take the time to stop and enjoy the view of Eklutna Lake. On a clear day, you’ll also be able to see the surrounding mountains.

From there the hike gets steeper (almost 3,000 feet – 914.4 meters) elevation gain in just under 2 miles – 3-2 km) and you’ll even encounter some sections requiring hands and feet to climb up (known as scrambling).

For that reason, many folks make it a shorter hike and turn around at the overlook.

If you choose to continue on, just know that the time of year dictates whether you can make it to the summit without additional gear. In addition due to a lot of loose scree, the last push to the summit will test the limits of even the most experienced hikers.

best hikes in Alaska
The view from top of Butte

Bodenburg Butte (Palmer)

Tabitha Bailar, Travel Compositions

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate
TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 2-3 miles (3.2 – 4.8 km)
TOTAL WALKING TIME: 1 – 1.5 hours
ELEVATION GAIN: 721 feet / 220 meters

Bodenburg Butte is Palmer’s favorite hill for a quick hike. There are two trailheads to choose from:

  • West Butte Trail – 1.5 miles (2.4 km) one way.
  • Sandvik Family Trail – under 1 mile (1.6 km) one way.

The West Butte Trail is an out-and-back trail that is easier but longer. It takes you through a gently inclined trail through a shaded forested trail, until the last section of the trail where you hit a climb of 505 wooden stairs.

Sandvik Family Trail is harder but shorter. The trail immediately starts with the steepest section which is covered in glacial soot, inches thick, causing for a dusty and semi-slippery climb. The path eventually transforms to a “normal” trail and splits, giving you multiple choices of reaching the top through sun and wind exposed meadows.

Whichever route you choose, both will reward you with a 360 degree view of the Matanuska Valley below you. See fertile farmland, winding rivers, Knik Glacier, and surrounding mountain peaks. And if it’s not too windy, enjoy a scenic picnic at the top.

April Bowl Trail
The views along April Bowl Trail

April Bowl Trail (Hatcher Pass)

Agnes Stabinska, Alaska Itinerary

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate
TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 2.2 miles (approx. 3.5 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 850 feet / 259 meters

If you’re looking for an easy yet rewarding hike for the whole family, the out-and-back April Bowl hike is one of the best trails at Hatcher Pass and is your go-to spot. The hike kicks off with a manageable uphill trek. Don’t worry; the switchbacks make it easier on the legs.

By the time you’ve climbed 800 feet (244 meters), you’ll find yourself at April Bowl, a picture-perfect setting featuring crystal-clear, turquoise tarns framed by the majestic Talkeetna Mountains. Navigating the trail is a breeze since it’s mostly a well-beaten dirt path.

However, it can be quite slippery after rain or snow, so good hiking shoes are necessary. You might not see a lot of critters, but trust me, the awe-inspiring views are a feast for the eyes.

Most common along this hike are ground squirrels. This spot gets popular in the summertime, the only season when the road to Hatcher Pass is accessible.

As for amenities, the trailhead offers limited parking and zero shops, so bring your snacks and hydration. And here’s a pro tip: the weather here can be fickle. One minute, it’s sunny; the next, it could be windy or rainy. So, toss a rain jacket or windbreaker into your backpack.

Lane Basin trail
A very wet day for the Lane Basin hike

Lane Basin Trail (Hatcher Pass)

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 3 miles (4.8 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 643 feet / 196 meters

The Lane Basine Trail is a moderate hike in Alaska close to Sutton. Since there are many trails in the Hatcher Pass area, compared to other Alaska hikes you have fewer chances of meeting other people along this hike.

The trail is well marked and for the most part easy to follow. When we hiked it, the main difficulty was actually the incredibly wet and often boggy terrain, which meant we really had to watch our step.

There is also a bit where you’ll have to cross the creek to continue on the same trail, but that’s easier said than done especially after heavy rain and with much more water flowing.

The views along the hike are magnificent. You will be surrounded by mountain peaks and walk along a beautiful emerald green mountain lake.

The area where the trailhead is located is fairly isolated, with less (good) roads to access it. The road to get to the trailhead is actually quite bad – bumps and potholes – so you may be better off if you are driving a 4WD.

Best Hikes in Alaska
Ward Creek

Ward Creek Trail (Ketchikan)

Nina Clapperton, Traveling With Your Pets

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 3.3 miles (5.3 km)
ELEVATION GAIN: 482 feet / 147 meters

Ward Creek Trail is an incredibly beautiful loop hike in the Tongass National Forest that doesn’t require any extreme skills or gear. This easy hike has a clear trail that is well maintained, with few tripping hazards like roots or big rocks.

When you head down to the creek, there are some declines, but they’re very steady. You’ll only need to be careful if it’s recently been storming and it might be slippery from the mud.

This is a popular local spot for trail running, walking dogs (sometimes you’ll see a soaking wet golden retriever run past you), and foraging. Even though there are amazing berries and mushrooms, please don’t forage unless you’re with a guide or know what you’re doing!

The best time to visit is in September or October when the salmon are spawning. You’ll be able to watch them jump up the waterfalls.

Visit at dawn or dusk and you might even see a black bear fishing for supper!

There is a small long drop toilet at the trailhead, where you can park for free. You’ll also find a map that shows you additional routes you can take to extend your hike. I recommend the Ward Lake trail and the Connell Lake Trail.

hiking in Alaska
Glacier Lake

Glacier Lake Trail (Kachemak Bay)

Bryanna Royal, Crazy Family Adventure

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: Easy to moderate
TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 7.5 miles (12 km) if you add the tram
ELEVATION GAIN: 400 feet / 122 meters

The highlights of the remote Glacier Lake hike are the process of getting there, the glacier, and the side hike to the self-propelled tram.

To reach the trailhead, you must take a boat to Kachemak Bay State Park. The water taxi will cost you $100+ per person. There is a good chance you will see sea life on the ride!

You will be dropped off at Glacier Spit beach where the Glacier Lake trailhead is located. The trail will take you through a cottonwood and spruce forest, with the option to take a 2-mile (3.2 km) (there and back) side hike to the self-propelled tram. Don’t miss this!

After the tram, make your way to the beach of Glacier Lake, with a gorgeous view of the lake and Grewingk Glacier.

From here, you hike to the Saddle Trailhead, where you will take a switchback trail down to the beach, where the boat will pick you up.

Note: This trail can be hiked in the opposite direction, where they drop you off at the Saddle Trailhead beach and pick you up at the Glacier Lake trailhead beach. It all depends on the tide and time of day.

The combination of the boat ride, tram, Glacier, and lake make this a top choice when hiking in Alaska! 

Slaughter Ridge Trail
The breathtaking views on Slaughter Ridge Trail

Slaughter Ridge Trail (Cooper Landing)

Alec Sills-Trausch, Explore With Alec

TOTAL WALKING DISTANCE: 4.7 miles (7.5 kilometers)
ELEVATION GAIN: 2,700 feet / 900 meters

The Slaughter Ridge Trail is aptly named. It’ll slaughter you with difficulty. With over 2,700 feet (823 meters) of elevation gain in less than 2.5 miles (4 km), you will be exhausted by the time you emerge at the top of the ridge.

There are points in the first half of the trail where it’ll feel like you are bear-crawling (on hands and legs) to get up the slope. But after a while, it’ll mellow out before again ascending towards the heavens.

Thankfully, this is more of a standard trail, and the views are immaculate, so you’ll have plenty of reasons to stop and catch a breath.

Then, once you reach the top, you’ll be so awed by the views of Kenai Lake and the Cooper Landing area that you won’t even notice how tired you are.

Thanks to the views, this is one of my favorite hikes, but it is incredibly tough. Just take your time, and you’ll eventually get to the top. Maybe even take an extended break halfway up to enjoy the views and recover a bit!

hiking in Alaska

Useful Tips For Hiking In Alaska

Now that you have the best hikes in Alaska covered, let’s check out some important things you need to know before you hike in Alaska, so that you can go prepared and have an incredible experience.

Best time to hike in Alaska

Hiking in Alaska is at its best from June to the beginning of September. That’s when you’ll have more chances of dry weather. In any case, be prepared for any weather conditions, especially rain!

I visited Alaska between the end of August and the beginning of September, and it rained almost every day (though locals mentioned it was an unusually wet summer), and some of the hikes we did were very wet, whereas others (ie Flattop Mountain and the Savage Alpine Trail) were terribly windy.

Caines Head Alaska
These were the conditions we found when we hiked Caines Head

For this reason, you may want to read some trail’ reviews or check out the latest updates on the state or national park website before you set on a specific trail. The trail may be very muddy and even boggy at times, and if you hike at the beginning of the season there may be some snow on the trail too!

Additionally, make sure to check the weather broadcast before you set out to hike, because the weather will have a significant impact on what you get out of the hike – especially if you hike for views. For example, when we hiked the Savage Alpine Trail, clouds covered Denali and we did not see it at all (but we truly enjoyed the hike anyway).

Don’t underestimate the difficulty

Some of the best hikes in Alaska are quite short in terms of distance, but that doesn’t mean they are not challenging! For example, the Savage Alpine Trail is only 4.1 miles (6.6 km) point to point, but there’s a lot of elevation gain in a short distance, which makes it truly difficult.

Alaska hikes
Rain gear is essential when hiking in Alaska

Wear (and carry) the right gear

I am a big advocate for wearing actual hiking gear wherever you hike and no matter how long or difficult the hike is, but this is ever so important when you hike in Alaska – and I only know too well. Let me highlight what you need below.

Rain gear

Let me start with the most important item! In case I have not stressed this enough, it rains a lot in Alaska. You may often be hiking in the rain and if you don’t have the right gear you’ll end up soaked.

That happened to me during the Harding Icefield hike and it was truly unpleasant and I was literally freezing by the time we made it back. I ended up getting into the first hiking gear shop in Seward and spending $300 on a pair of rain pants and a jacket.

Make sure to double-check check your gear is rainproof – not just “sprinkle of water” proof, but actual shower proof. Mine wasn’t, even if I thought it was.

I recommend this Black Diamond rain jacket; and Black Diamond rain pants. Those are the ones I ended up buying in Seward and they performed really well. Ideally, you want something loose enough so that you can wear it over your pants in case it rains. Just pack it in your backpack before you head out for your hike.

You need good hiking boots for your Alaska hikes

Hiking boots

First of all, you will need a pair of really good waterproof hiking boots. They need to give you good ankle support and protect your feet from getting wet. I have a pair of Montura Yaru Tekno GTX that are by far the best hiking boots I have ever had. That’s what I used for my Alaska trip and they never failed me.

I also have a pair of Columbia Peakfreak Ii Mid Outdry that is incredibly light to wear, super comfortable, and provides excellent support.

Here’s a little trick if your shoes get wet on the inside: stuff them with newspaper overnight and keep them close to a heater, changing the paper whenever it feels wet. They will dry in no time!



You should also bring a pair of spikes – they are essential in case you need to walk on icy terrain. Keep in mind they do have a front and back before putting them on!

Hiking socks

Hiking socks are also important, as they will provide the right padding and keep your feet from getting blisters.


Layers are essential, too. Make sure to wear a quick dry shirt (it will dry quickly in case you sweat a lot!) and an extra sweater that you can wear and take off in case you get too warm. I used the Kuhl Ascendyr sweater pretty much for all my hikes in Alaska and it proved to be a great choice.

You will need a pair of hiking pants – I recommend Kuhl Trekr pants as they are comfortable but also sturdy.

Beanie and gloves

Pack a beanie and a pair of gloves too – the latter should be waterproof, too. There’s nothing worse than feeling your fingers lose sensitivity because they are too cold and – take my word for it – it will happen on certain (particularly wet) days.

hiking backpack
You need a rain cover for your backpack

Hiking backpack

You will need a good hiking backpack with a rain cover. In terms of capacity, I recommend around 28 liters, and up to 30 for a day hike. That’s what I used for all my Alaska hikes and while it seems big it was very much necessary.

In terms of brands, I frankly don’t have recommendations – I have used Osprey daypacks in the past but they were never comfortable on my shoulders, and tried many more. I eventually settled for a Terra Peak Premium and finally found a perfect backpack for me, but I don’t see it on sale outside of Italy unfortunately.

Hiking poles in Alaska
You may want to bring a pair of hiking poles too

Other useful items

Other things you will need when hiking in Alaska include mosquito repellent – they do say that the mosquito is the national bird of Alaska for a reason!

Bring sunscreen and make sure to apply it regularly – even when it rains or it is overcast. I prefer a higher sun protection factor.

Don’t forget to bring a power bank and charger cord. The last thing you want is to run out of battery while on a hike – you need your smartphone to take photos and in case of emergency!

Finally, you may want to bring a pair of hiking poles. I am not a fan of them and never felt I needed the extra support (some people swear) they provide when I was hiking in Alaska, but you may find them useful especially to lean on while walking downhill.

Bring food and water

There is nothing in the way of services on most trails in Alaska. You won’t find a kiosk or a fountain. At national parks there sometimes is a café where you can get food before or after the hike. That means you need to bring whatever food and water you need for the duration of the hike.

I recommend using a hydration bladder as it’s easier to drink from it on the go (rather than having to stop to take out your water bottle).

In terms of food, this depends on the duration of the hike. If it’s only a few hours, you should bring something small and light such as trail mix or a protein bar (I am a fan of Clif Bars as they are high in protein, vegan and taste good). Otherwise, stop at a grocery store on the way to the hike and bring some sandwiches.

Hikes in Alaska
For safety reasons, don’t hike alone

Don’t hike alone

I always recommend not hiking alone, for a variety of reasons and mostly due to safety. Most of the trails mentioned in this post are quite popular, so you are bound to meet other people along the hike in case you need help and you could go alone if you wanted.

However, there are occasions in which you’ll be the only person on the trail (we were the only ones there when we hiked the Lane Basin Trail) and that’s simply not safe. The trails can be more challenging than you think; there often is limited or no connectivity at all in some areas; and you could meet wildlife too (especially bears).

Bear Spray
Bear spray is essential on any Alaska hike

We never had any issues (except someone being extremely slow in our group), but with so many variables, you don’t want to take any chances.

If you are on a solo trip to Alaska, make sure someone is always informed of your whereabouts. Let your family at home know which trail you’ll be hiking, what time you are heading out and what time you expect to be back – just make sure you give some indication of where to look in the odd chance you may need help.

You should also consider carrying a satellite device that has an SOS functionality, just in case. I recommend the Garmin inReach Mini or something similar. It’s not cheap, but if you hike a lot it is actually a good thing to invest on.

wildlife in Alaska
A moose we met during a hike

Beware of local wildlife

It’s not uncommon to encounter wildlife when hiking in Alaska. There are black bears, brown bears, grizzlies and moose, among others. We saw a mama bear with her cub during the Harding Icefield hike; and mooses along the Flattop Mountain trail.

You need to have at least a basic understanding of how to behave in case you encounter a bear or a moose during your hike in Alaska. The best advice is usually to make some noise as you walk, as animals will stay away. It’s also good to wear jingle bells for that.

I recommend reading the guidelines for traveling in Alaska’s bear country on the Alaska Department of Fish and Game website to get yourself acquainted with what you need to do in case of a bear encounter.

You should also bring bear spray, just in case. This is commonly available in stores in Alaska, at the shops inside national parks, and you can also get bear spray on Amazon.

Download offline maps of the trails

Most trails in Alaska are very well-marked and easy to follow, and you’ll hardly need to worry about getting lost. On the off chance that the trail isn’t so obvious, you will be better off downloading a map that you can use offline too. I normally use Wikiloc in Europe, but the best app for Alaska is AllTrails.

Can you take dogs on a hike in Alaska?

I love dogs and I am always happy when I see people traveling with their pups, so I make it a point to include information about the possibility of visiting a place with a dog wherever relevant.

We saw many people hiking with their dogs in Alaska, and they always seemed to have a fantastic time. However, not all hikes in Alaska are dog-friendly.

As a general rule of thumb, dogs are allowed on trails in state parks in Alaska, but not in national parks. If you are traveling to Alaska with your dog, make sure to double-check whether you can bring him or her on the hike. AllTrails has a list of all dog-friendly hikes in Alaska.

Hiking in Alaska
Trail conditions are often muddy

Be a responsible traveler

Wherever you are traveling in the world, and especially when in nature, you really should do your best to be a responsible traveler. This definitely applies when hiking in Alaska.

You will see that all hiking trails in Alaska are pristine, and you should make sure they stay so!

Make sure not to walk off the trail; respect wildlife; respect other people you meet on the trail (and please be kind to them, especially if they appear to be in distress!); and by all means pick up after yourself (and your dog) and bring your trash home with you to dispose of it. That includes any toilet paper you may use while hiking.

There normally are pit toilets at the trailhead and at visitors’ centers, and they generally provide toilet paper. Keep in mind they have no water though, so be prepared for the worst, including the overpowering smell. I recommend bringing hand sanitizer to disinfect your hands after use.

Pin It For Later!
Read about the best hikes in Alaska - via @clautavani

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.