There are 27 miles of maintained trails in the Eklutna Lake Valley. The distances given for each trail are one-way and hiking times are the minimum needed by a person in good physical condition.
This well-maintained trail is popular because of its easy access to good views of the entire Eklutna Valley. It begins at the parking lot, crosses the Twin Peaks Creek bridge and continues to the alpine tundra. The trail is rated moderate to difficult due to its steepness in places. Hiking time for those in good condition is about two hours up and one hour down.
About halfway up, there is a good spot to rest, have a picnic, and enjoy views of the valley and lake. The trail continues around the west side of the mountain, where dozens of sheep are often seen grazing in the Goat Mountain bowl. Careful observers may spot ptarmigan roosting in the vegetation or a golden eagle in flight. Hikers who reach the end of the maintained trail are rewarded with a panoramic view of the Eklutna Valley and Knik Arm.
From here hikers may choose their own route across the tundra. Berry picking is good along the upper part of the trail and beyond. Climbers use this trail to reach East and West Twin Peaks and Goat Mountain.
Begin at the trailhead parking lot, cross the Twin Peaks Creek bridge and take a right onto the Lakeside Trail. This scenic trail is an old road bed that follows the north edge of the lake for eight miles and then extends into the backcountry. In the summer the trail is bordered by colorful wildflowers and in the fall currants, cranberries and raspberries provide a special treat.
The road was open to passenger vehicles until 1977 when sections washed out, making it unsafe for such vehicles. Today it is popular with hikers, skiers, joggers, bikers, ATVers and horseback riders. Each mile is marked for easy reference. Typical travel times for the 13-mile trail, one-way are: hiking - six hours; bicycle - two to three hours; horseback - four to five hours; ATV - 50 minutes. The trail is usually open to ATVs Sunday through Wednesday, but may be closed at times due to trail conditions. For more information call the ranger station or Chugach State Park Headquarters.
The Bold Ridge Trail begins at mile 5 of the Lakeside Trail and climbs steeply to the alpine tundra. Hikers in good condition need about one hour, 45 minutes to ascend the trail and one hour to return.
The soft, moss-covered tundra supports an abundance of hardy wildflowers and berries. Listen for the warning whistle of the marmot and watch for ground squirrels scampering across the tundra in search of food. Occasionally, bears or wolves are seen on surrounding mountainsides.
This trail provides excellent views of the Eklutna Valley and Glacier, and the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet. The maintained trail ends at the base of the snow-capped Bold Peak. Experienced climbers may continue on to the summit of this 7,552-foot mountain. Hunters and other hikers use the Bold Ridge Trail to reach the Hunter Creek drainage.
This follow-the-leader trail begins at mile 10.5 of the Lakeside Trail. It parallels the East Fork of Eklutna River to a glacial lake that reflects the surrounding peaks and glacier. Bashful, the tallest peak in Chugach State Park, at 8,005 feet, and its neighbors, Bold and Baleful, tower above the river to the northeast while Mitre forms the west wall of the valley.
Colorful wildflowers line the trail, changing with the different ecosystems you pass through. Keep your binoculars handy, as Dall sheep, mountain goats and moose inhabit the mountain slopes. Watch for the ouzel, a small water bird that bobs in the water and feeds along the river bottom. Tulchina Falls at mile 2 is a pretty spot for a rest stop. Pack a pail in the fall for the many berries in this valley.
This trail begins where the Lakeside Trail ends and leads to an interpretive display and view of the Eklutna Glacier. Notice the change in vegetation as you hike along. The glacier has quickly retreated in the last few years and you can witness the birth of a new landscape here.
The trail is well-marked but sections bordering the swiftly-flowing Eklutna River require care. Rocks falling from the steep canyon walls present a hazard to hikers. For your safety, please remain on the trail and do not approach the glacier. Because it is rapidly receding, the glacierís snout is unstable and dangerous.
Glaciers and peaks in this area are popular with climbers. A traverse beginning at the end of this trail crosses the Eklutna, Whiteout, Eagle and Raven Glaciers, and ends 31 miles away at Crow Pass near Girdwood. Three huts along the route are maintained by the Mountaineering Club of Alaska. Only those who are trained and properly equipped should venture onto the glacier.