To get some of the most scenic views of Anchorage many locals hike Anchorage’s most popular hiking trail each year, Flattop Mountain Trail. The Flattop Mountain Trail is located in Chugach State Park, a popular outdoor recreation area located in the Chugach Mountain Range. Chugach State Park is the third largest state park in America, and has multiple easily accessible trailheads located in Anchorage and Eagle River, Alaska. Flattop is known for its panoramic views of Anchorage and the surrounding area, including Cook Inlet, and on clear days views of Mt. McKinley, Mt. Foraker, Mt. Spurr, and Mt. Redoubt are very possible.
For Alaska Residents or self-drive visitors with a rental car, access to Flattop is fairly easy. To reach the spacious parking area, drive south on the New Seward Highway and exit at the O’Malley Road exit. Travel east on O’Malley Road for about 4 miles until you reach Hillside Drive where you will take a right. Drive 1 mile and turn left onto Upper Huffman Road. On Upper Huffman road you will reach a three way intersection where you need to turn right onto Toilsome Hill Drive. Travel 2 miles to the Glen Alps Parking Area and the trailhead for the Flattop Mountain Trail is on the left. The cost for parking at this area is $5.00 per vehicle.
Chugach State Park Trail Maps available here: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/trailmaps.htm
The Flattop Mountain Trail is 3 miles roundtrip and is a moderately strenuous hike with an elevation gain of 1252 ft. With the large elevation in gain in a small distance, the trail is not recommended for small children. Water and a good pair of hiking shoes are must bring items for this hike! The beginning of the trail is clear and easy to follow with switchbacks traveling up the mountain leading to the first good overlook at Blueberry Hill. The mountain terrain continues to get steeper and steeper on the way up the trail. Wildlife sightings are not uncommon; on my last trip we saw a few moose in the surrounding area. Towards the top of the trail take caution as falling rocks from other hikers can be a potential hazard. The trip to the summit is quite steep, but well worth the hike when you reach the top. You may have guessed it, but the mountain’s name comes from its large almost flat top. Don’t be surprised to see folks trying to play frisbie, fly a kite, or even camp ing on top of Flat Top!
Even if you choose to not hike the whole distance, the views are fabulous and there are many areas to stop and picnic or enjoy the views.