Chugach State Park

Ask any Anchorage local for a recommended hike and they'll likely point you east to the mountain's bordering town. Those mountains aren't just the city's backdrop, they're its wilderness playground. Wolverine, O'Malley, Flattop, and the many unnamed ridges and lower pinnacles are part of the 495,000-acre Chugach State Park.

Because of its proximity to Anchorage, the Chugach is the most visited state park in Alaska, and yet, it is quiet compared to most places in the Lower 48. The park is popular for hiking, fishing, camping, and wildlife viewing. Winter activities include snow machining, backcountry skiing, fat tire biking, and ice climbing.

There are at least 28 defined trails within the park broken into three general regions, the Hillside, Eagle River and Eklutna, and Turnagain Arm. The Hillside trail system is the most varied. It's also the most immediately accessible for visitors in Anchorage. The trailhead for Flattop, Alaska's most-climbed mountain, is a short 20-minute drive from downtown Anchorage. Farther north in Eagle River and Eklutna are the popular South Fork, Crows Pass, and Eklutna Lakeside trails. On the south end of the park, Turnagain Arm trails like McHugh Creek and Bird Ridge provide stellar views of the Turnagain Arm.

Along with trail systems, the Chugach State Park also includes rest areas like the McHugh Creek Picnic Site and the Beluga Point viewpoint on the Seward Highway.

Chugach State Park has three campgrounds. Eagle River Campground, located 12 miles north of Anchorage, has 57 sites and offers flush toilets and an RV dump station. Eklutna Lake Campground is located 45 minutes north of Anchorage and offers 45 sites. Eklutna trails permit hiking, biking, ATV use, and horses on designated days. The Bird Creek Campground is 20 miles south of Anchorage on the Turnagain Arm. Salmon fishing is the main attraction at Bird Creek. All Chugach State Park campgrounds offer picnic tables, fire pits, water, and latrines.

Visit the Chugach State Park website for maps, trail descriptions, camping reservations, and more.