Chugiak-Eagle River is one of the most scenic recreation destinations in the Anchorage area. In addition to numerous parks and trails, the area offers ample fishing and sightseeing opportunities for residents and visitors alike. This is far from a complete list, but here’s a rundown of some of the area’s most popular outdoor gems to get you started this summer:
Trails abound in the area, both within the Chugach State Park and within the muni. Here are some of the most popular and how to get there:
— Mt. Baldy. Take Skyline Drive all the way to the top and park at a small parking area at the base of the hiking trail. The trail to the top is steep but short, and offers views of Anchorage, Eagle River, Knik Arm and beyond.
— Thunderbird Falls. Take the Glenn Highway north of Eagle River to the Thunderbird Falls exit. An easy day hike suitable for all ages and abilities, the trail takes hikers right up to the base of the falls.
— South Fork Eagle River Trail. Take Hiland Road to South Creek road, then turn onto West Creek Drive. The parking area is small. Trail accesses both Eagle and Symphony Lakes. Symphony Lake offers excellent grayling fishing. Trip times vary from day hikes to overnight adventures.
— Eagle River Nature Center trails. The Eagle River Nature Center, located at the end of Eagle River Road, offers a variety of trails open to users of all abilities. Short trails to the Eagle River offer salmon and wildlife viewing within a short walk of the visitor’s center, while longer trails offer excursions into the Eagle River Valley and beyond. Visit www.ernc.org for more information. The nature center also offers a variety of activities and outdoor education programs throughout the year.
— Ptarmigain Valley. Trailhead is on the Old Glenn Highway near the Rural Discount Center. The 6-mile one way trip into the valley includes an elevation gain of nearly 2,000 feet.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game stocks several area lakes. Visit www.state.adfg.alaska.gov for the latest sportfishing updates. Here’s a few lakes where the fish should be biting this summer:
— Mirror Lake. Take the Mirror Lake exit off the Glenn Highway. The lake has a picnic area and several good spots to fish from shore. Stocked by ADFG.
— Beach Lake. Take South Birchwood Loop off the Glenn Highway to Beach Lake Road, then follow it to the end. Parking area includes a short wooden dock and canoe launch. Spinners work good for trout in this stocked lake.
— Lower Fire Lake. Northern pike have been illegally introduced into Lower Fire Lake, which can be accessed off the Old Glenn Highway just north of Eagle River. Try fishing in shallow, weedy areas for best results.
The Eagle River Campground is one of the most popular summertime camping spots for Anchorage area residents looking for a place to camp close to home. The campground is accessed via the Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway. There are trails along the Eagle River and 57 campsites for both tent and motorhome camping. Visit www.dnr.alaska.gov/parks for more information.