When you think of Alaska, the last thing on your mind is beginner hiking. Alaska is known for its cold winter climate and harsh terrain, so you’d never believe in starting your hiking adventure there. However, there are many beginner-friendly trails. In this article, we will introduce you to the top 5 hikes in Alaska for beginners.
There’s no escaping the name “Flattop” if you’re a resident of Alaska. It’s one of the best known year-round hikes and is frequented by many travelers. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something quick and under two miles. On a bright and sunny day, the whole trek will only take you a maximum of two hours. In the summer, the beautiful trail overlooks a small valley with numerous types of greenery. However, in winter, it’s one of the most stunning winter wonderlands and almost looks like it’s been cut right out of a fairytale.
The trails are a mixture of rocky and smooth terrain with the lower elevations containing multiple pathways. The short paved trails are wheelchair accessible and provide a wide range of views onlooking the city of anchorage. Once higher up, the trail gets rockier and steep. With the elevation change, some find it a bit more difficult to climb but nothing that a beginner can’t handle. If climbing during the off months, it’s highly suggested to use spiked shoes to prevent slipping. You can expect to be on your hands and knees towards the summit. Overall, the trek to the summit 1.5 miles and reaches an elevation of 1,280 feet. It’s the most hiked mountain in the state and continues to be a favorite for anyone who visits.
2. Bear Point
Another popular and well-known trail is Bear Point, or instead called Bear Mountain. The name may sound scary at first, but it’s less intimidating than it seems. The summit itself overlooks a fantastic view of the Kenai Peninsula and the stunning blue waters of Mirror Lake. If you’re looking for a decent place to begin, Bear Mountain offers a few flat trails along-side the start of the valley. However, if you want to live a bit more dangerously, the higher elevations provide more challenging hiking trails that reach the summit. The hike itself isn’t too tricky, but you should expect it to get steep towards the top. Being adequately prepared via hiking gear is always recommended and save you from slipping.
The paths are often full of trees, shrubs, and other itchy greenery, so be prepared to be prickled. Once you reach the summit, the land starts to plateau. It’s a beautiful view and definitely worth the climb. The plateau overlooks Mount Eklutna, which is a stunning and elegant mountain range. Overall, the hike up the trail is around 2 miles and goes up to 2,100 feet. It’s perfect if you love multiple passageways and hidden little endeavors. Additionally, you get a beautiful view of both onlookers and Mirror Lake.
3. Little O’Malley
Little O’Malley, on the other hand, is a beginner-friendly hike for those looking for a less strenuous climb. During summers, the hike is pretty forgiving and smooth. However, in winters, it can be a bit slippery and avalanche prone. The view itself overlooks Anchorage and the surrounding mountain ranges. If you’re looking for a beautiful city view, this is your go-to hike. The peak of the mountain is reasonably stunning and makes for a picture-perfect view year-round. As for the trail, while it may not be strenuous as others, it is steep.
Those looking to make the hike would highly benefit from some high-quality footwear. The climb itself takes up to 2-4 hours but maybe longer if hiking offseason. Many hikers who frequent the path tend to recommend going through June-September, as the trail is clear. Overall, the trail extends a bit over 2 miles and gains an initial 1,350 feet of elevation. There are fewer trails amongst this site. However, it provides an easier climb than the previously mentioned ones.
4. Byron Glacier
If you’re looking for a unique hike that you can only experience in Alaska, then Byron Glacier is for you. It’s a stunningly beautiful glacier hike that’s often mind-blowing to most first-timers. The surrounding view is of Portage Lake and multiple mountain peaks. What makes it unique is the trail itself. Imagine being encased in icy tunnels and snow-covered igloos, as this is what the whole path is like. With multiple pathways, you’re provided a wide range of options, some full of ice, greenery, or rocky pebbled trails. The hike depends on which trail you choose to go on. Byron Glacier is heavily trafficked and includes trails at different hiking levels.
The beginner-friendly trail is mainly used for nature trips, bird watching, and hiking. It’s best to travel in April-October as there are less ice and snow. The view includes many close-ups of the Byron Glacier and is one of the only places you can get this up-close. Span with a 360-view is mountain views, wildflowers, and caves. It’s a fun activity for families. Although, it can get a bit dangerous with many rugged pathways and rocks. Overall, the trails are easy-going, and the view is one of the best if you’re looking for an out of world experience. The icy snowcaps and surrounding trails are nearly always populated and busy. The trail itself spans over 3.2 miles and include a rough elevation of 777 feet.
5. Beluga Slough Trail
A seaside view is something you’re probably not expecting in Alaska. However, Homer is a town with beautiful ocean views, mountain ranges, and features the Oceans Visitor Center. It’s home to short boardwalks and multiple wide-life viewing activities. If you’re looking for a remote getaway with many activities, you can’t go wrong with this trail. It provides scenic views that are perfect for beginners. The path is mainly used for leisurely hikes and walking.
As you walk around the point, you’ll be greeted by the surrounding ocean and Beluga Slough. The trail follows alongside the beach which is brimming full of wildlife. At the northern edge, the slough ends, and the surrounding town greets you. Overall, the full trail is around a 1.2-mile loop and features an elevation of 101 feet. It’s the easiest and best beginner-friendly trail on our list. If you’re looking for activities both family-friendly and nightlife-related, then you can’t go wrong with Beluga Slough Trail.
Alaska has plenty of hiking opportunities that range from beginner-friendly to expert. Many of these trails are perfect for families and your furry friends. If you’re looking to get some hiking experience, there’s no better way than to visit the top 5 hikes in Alaska for beginners.
Christina Eck is a content writer who’s lived in Alaska her whole life. Her main focus is ghostwriting for blog-style posts or product reviews. However, she does have Alaska experience due to living there her whole life. She’s moved around Alaska since she was a child with some of the places she’s lived being Selawik, Ketchikan, and Whale Pass. However, she now resides in the main city of Anchorage, Alaska.