Great Hikes in Alaska to Explore on Own or with a Guide

Chugach State Park

Hiking in Alaska’s back-country is one of the most popular activities for those who live in Alaska and visitors as well. There are endless possibilities for those with hiking experience to venture out on their own in the back-country of Alaska. Alaska offers many guided hike opportunities and some easy hikes you can do on your own in some of Alaska’s most popular destinations that are suitable for the less experienced hiker that just want to get off the beaten trail and experience the serenity and beauty of Alaska.

Anchorage
Anchorage is blessed with over 250 miles of trails within the city and has over 230 parks, some of them very large. Anchorage also sits in the shadow of the mountains of Chugach State Park which is easily accessible and a short 15 to 20 minute drive from downtown. The half-day Chugach State Park Anchorage Day Hike departs from most of the hotels in downtown Anchorage mid-morning and returns after about four hours. You will travel by van to the scenic Glen Alps Trail-head and a naturalist guide will tailor a hike to match your fitness level. Hike in the alpine Chugach Mountains and valleys that surround Anchorage while your guide teaches you about the flora, fauna, geology and history of the area. It does not take long before you leave the city sights and immerse yourself in Alaska’s wilderness. Keep an eye out for moose and marmot. Trail snacks and water will be provided. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes, layered clothing and a backpack. This hike is great for families! (more…)

Experiencing the Glaciers of South-central Alaska

Matanuska GlacierA glacier is defined by Merriam-Webster dictionary as a very large area of ice that moves slowly down a slope or valley or over a wide area of land – A fairly bland description of a breathtaking sight! A common Alaska definition of a glacier is a river of ice. Glaciers common to Alaska include tidewater glaciers, hanging glaciers and valley glaciers. Tidewater glaciers flow down mountains and end in the sea, hanging glaciers rest on mountain sides and only descend a part of the way down the mountain and valley glaciers fill mountain valleys.

Glaciers are one of the top Alaskan attractions. Alaska is home to 100,000 glaciers, two-thirds of all of the glaciers on earth. Whether seen from the air, from the water or on a hike, your first sight of a glacier can be an awe-inspiring, humbling experience. It is amazing how accessible these massive rivers of ice can be! Below is a guide to the glaciers of South-central Alaska. (more…)

Guided Hikes in Alaska

k2-ultimateIf your like most independent visitors coming to Alaska, you are seeking active experiences that thrust you into Alaska’s scenic wilderness. As a result, one of the most popular activities you may take part in are guided hikes into Alaska’s backcountry. Alaska Tour & Travel offers guided hiking tours in Seward, Girdwood, Anchorage, Talkeetna, Denali State Park, and at Denali National Park and the great news is that when surveying our 2013 clients, we discovered that the guided hikes we offer were among the highest rated tour experiences included in packages. Hiking allows you the opportunity to “get off the beaten path” and to experience Alaskan destinations which even many Alaskan’s haven’t seen. Typically, guided hikes tend to have a smaller maximum number of participants to reduce the impact on the environment. Your safety is always the priority on any professionally guided hiking excursion. Most guiding services keep the guide to hiker ratio to less than six to one, which allows participants to not only to get to know their guides personally, but also provides the guide the opportunity to provide more interpretation about the ecosystem.

Alaska’s wild expanses result not having any two hikes being alike, which is terrific for avid hikers who want to include multiple hiking trips in their trip. Difficulty wise, hikes range from novice hikes which are little more than a walk through the woods to more technical hikes which require participants to suit up with glacial gear while hiking on accessible glaciers. Hikes also range by the means of transport it takes to “being able to hit the trail” – whether the trail head is just outside a lodges front door, a short van ride, a ride on a tram up to the top of a mountain, or by helicopter or float plane to a remote location all of these options are available. Here are a few hikes to consider including in a travel itinerary.

Anchorage

chugach-hikingRising to the east of the City of Anchorage are the Chugach Mountains and one of Alaska’s best state parks – the Chugach State Park. The Anchorage Day Hike provides visitors a chance to explore an alpine environment with beautiful vistas of the Chugach Mountains, Cook Inlet, and on a clear day view as far away as Mt. McKinley. Transportation is included, and the name itself doesn’t do the experience justice as the best thing that the Anchorage Day Hike does is quickly transport you away from the city up into one of Alaska’s most accessible and scenic wilderness areas. Our staff loves spending time in Chugach State Park and the views from our office of the Chugach Mountains beckon us often into the mountains during summer months. Each Anchorage Day Hike is tailored to your fitness level and transportation is included from Anchorage hotels. (more…)

New Off the Beaten Path Adventures

We’re always on the look out for adventures which get visitor’s off the beaten path and that can reasonably be experienced in a day or less while in Denali National Park or in the South Denali – Denali State Park region. So working with two of our local Alaska guide services, we’re excited to be able to showcase two new adventures which we’re sure will be among the highlights for visitors this summer.

The Denali State Park Raft & Kayak adventure starts with a visit to Byer’s Lake in Denali State Park, one of my own favorite places to visit. Byer’s Lake is located in a pristine setting at the foot of the Kesugi Ridge and offers spectacular views of Mt. McKinley. Along with your guide, you’ll use sit-on-top kayaks to paddle through the tranquil waters while on the watch for resident trumpeter swans, loons, and beavers. If you haven’t ever tried a sit-on-top kayak before you shouldn’t worry as they are easy to use even for new kayakers. One of the highlights for me while at Byer’s Lake is kayaking over pools of spawning salmon – I’ve also seen signs of bears along the far shore of the lake and the local guides say they occasionally see them from a safe distance away while kayaking.

From Byer’s Lake you’ll head to a unique, Alaskan lodge & café called Mary Cary’s where you’ll have lunch while enjoying views of Denali and the Alaska Range. Then its onward to your launching ground on the Chulitna River to embark on a peaceful, scenic raft trip that takes you through the stunning Chulitna Canyon and ends 19 miles downstream in the town of Talkeetna. Transportation is provided from both Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and McKinley Princess Lodge, or if you have your own car you can meet the guides at Byer’s Lake and they’ll bring you back to your car at the end of the day.

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The Iditarod

sousa-dogsled-teamSince I was a little girl I’ve enjoyed the sport of dog mushing as both a competitive musher and a spectator.  Every year one of the biggest dog mushing events in the world is held in Anchorage, Alaska. The ceremonial start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race begins on Fourth Avenue in downtown Anchorage on the first Saturday each March. The Iditarod Trail stretches over 1149 miles of Alaska’s vast wilderness. The true race begins a day after, on Sunday from Willow, Alaska. This is where you see the mushers dressed in their cold weather gear and their sleds fully packed with food and equipment for themselves, but mostly for the dogs. From my experience as a musher your number one priority on the trail is your dogs. Each dog is treated with great care to assure they are performing at their very best. Imagine what it’s like to care for not just one Olympic athlete but a team of 16. (more…)

Alaska’s Northern Lights

northernlights-acvbWe often get inquiries from folks interested in seeing the Aurora Borealis, locally known in Alaska as the Northern Lights. During the summer months, it is very unlikely that you would see the Northern Lights due to Alaska’s Midnight Sun. Alaskans and visitors alike love our Midnight Sun as it provides up to 19 hours of daylight in June (or more depending on your location) and we are often seen enjoying outdoor activities late in the evening. On rare occasions in fall from Talkeetna to Denali and further North to Fairbanks, we are fortunate enough to have clear skies and atmospheric conditions that result in Aurora sightings. Lodges such as the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge and Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge provide “Northern Lights” wake up call service upon request. So, if you are traveling in the fall, be sure to check with the front desk of the lodges that you are staying at to see if they have such service. If they do, the Front Desk will call your room and wake you up, regardless of the time of night, if they observe the northern lights. (more…)

My Perfect Alaska Tour, Part II

 From Anchorage to Girdwood, Seward to Talkeetna, my perfect tour of Alaska continues after an overnight at the Talkeetna Alaska Lodge –

Day 6, Get an early start with a guided fishing trip with Talkeetna Fishing Guides on the Talkeetna River. Their pick up is at 7:45am directly from the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge. You can purchase your fishing license at the guide service and they’ll set you up with all the equipment you need to go fishing and they will assist you in shipping home any fish you catch as well. After the 5 hour fishing trip it is time for a break, so explore downtown Talkeetna on foot, and stop by Mile High Pizza Pie for a nice warm pizza or calzone.
 
Top off a great day in Talkeetna with a Glacier Landing flightseeing trip of Mt. McKinley and the Alaska Range with K2 Aviation. This flight is amazing and the knowledgeable pilot will give you all the information you could want to know coupled with the beautiful aerial views of Denali National Park. The glacier landing is a unique experience and the photo opportunities on this trip are once in a lifetime opportunities. After the flight K2 will return you to the Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge where you can relax and enjoy dinner at the hotel’s Foraker Dining Room where they specialize in fresh Alaskan seafood. (more…)

My Perfect Alaska Tour

Often I’m asked what I think would be the perfect tour if I was visiting Alaska.  Fortunately, I’ve found that each client I work with has different interests and we’re able to customize each trip to meet their unique interests in travel and adventure.  But since I’m asked so often, its easy to imagine the tour I would customize for myself if I was taking an Alaska trip – based on my experience living in Alaska, and working in tourism here. All our packages can be modified to either travel by rail, motorcoach or rental car.  I think the best of option would be to travel in combination of all three modes.

My perfect tour would start out with a visit to Anchorage and then the Kenai Peninsula.

Day 1, Arrival Day! Pick up a rental car in Anchorage and check into the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel and Spa.  What better way to adjust to a long day of travel then to take in a spa treatment before enjoying dinner in downtown Anchorage.  My favorite for dinner is the Glacier BrewHouse in downtown Anchorage just up the street from the Sheraton. They have great food and plenty of fresh Alaskan seafood options. (more…)

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