The Matanuska valley to Hatcher’s Pass offers a variety of hiking trails that have amazing views. Below are some wonderful hikes to do with your family or friends! They range from easy to challenging and will give you some beautiful views of Alaska.
With an elevation gain of 669 feet, the Butte is perfect for a starter hike. Whether you just love getting out and exploring Alaska in the summer months, or you are an outdoor enthusiast, every day of the year the view will never disappoint you!
Before your adventure starts, you have two trail options. Those who are a little more adventurous and prefer a steep climb may opt-in for the front side. Choosing this option provides you with a quicker ascent, getting to the top in approximately 25 minutes. Going the back route will take 35-45 minutes, before reaching the top.
Whether there is a blanket of snow or dry ground, the Butte is a must do! Reaching the top, you will have accessed magnificent views, grand splendor of what Alaska has to offer you. Be caught up in the moment, in awe of the incredible beauty with a 360 degree view. It is easy to get dreamy eyed and start drifting off into space as you look off in the distance to see and hear the mountain tops calling. Question is, which one will be your next quest to achieve?
Directions from Anchorage:
head north on the Glen Highway. Take the exit onto the Old Glen before reaching the Knik River. Follow this route until reaching the bridge; cross it, and continue for roughly 4 miles. Turn left onto Bodenburg loop road after passing the butte, not before (see below). After half a mile, turn left again onto “Mothershead Lane”; you will see the parking area on your right shortly afterward. Take the road around to the left after parking, the trailhead is on the right.
Hiking Reed Lakes Trail will take you through approximately 9 miles of magnificent views, roundtrip. The first 2-3 miles of the trail is quite flat, making the first part the hike pretty fast-paced and easy going. As you start your climb, there will be many switchbacks, providing you with a gradual incline to the top.
As you reach the top, you will see the landscape has transitioned to a large boulder field. Boulders of many shapes and sizes, cover the ground as you make way to the lakes. You will climb over, go around or through, depending on how you navigate your way across the rocks. The trail peters off when you get to the boulder field. You will be able to get through the boulders more quickly and safely if you try and stay mostly to the left side of the boulder field.
Do not be discouraged by the challenge of the rocky terrain. Stunning beauty lay just beyond the rock field, waiting to be explored. Lower Reed Lake is the first body of water you will see after having made the hike bike. Upon seeing Lower Reed Lake, you will know this is no ordinary lake. Fed by glacial waters, you will experience stunning and bold, rich colors of blue, and green coloration when viewed at a distance. If you want to experience the beauty of Upper Reed Lake too, head on up just a short incline and soon you will be there.
Directions from Anchorage:
Take the Glen Highway north from Anchorage, and follow the bend towards Wasilla. Shortly after the Palmer/Wasilla exchange, take the exit to Trunk Road, then head right. Stay on this road until it eventually ‘T’s onto Palmer Fishhook Road. Take a left, and head north into Hatchers Pass. Follow this route for about 14 miles until you find a turnoff onto a dirt road on the right, marked for Archangel Valley. Follow this route until just after passing Archangel Creek, and you should find a parking lot with a sign marked for the Reed Lakes trail.
If you are looking for a longer and more challenging hike, make sure to have comfortable hiking shoes on and be well rested and hydrated for Pioneer Peak. With nearly 14 miles of roundtrip hiking and 6637 feet in elevation gain, you will want to be ready and well prepared.
The start of your hike begins at sea level. Making your way up provides a challenge in the preparation for what’s to come. You will experience a steep, vertical gain, which brings you to the ridge. From there, you will experience switchbacks, eventually straightening out as you gain elevation. Here is where the landscape opens as you are above the tree line. Scenic, magnificent views! You will definitely want to allow yourself some extra time to take it all in. If you’re lucky enough to have a sunny day, clear blue skies, you can see for miles in every direction. A photographer’s dream, for sure!
Your journey doesn’t end there if your destination is the top. False ridges give you the sense you have reached the peak, but the real peak and challenge has yet to come. As you make your way to the peak, rock formations are presented before you. Rocks for climbing over and loose rocks under your feet. Be prepared and aware, making sure your grip and footing is solid upon making the next step. Just a little bit farther…mission accomplished!