Alaska’s fall may be short but it can also be sweet

Fall in Alaska can be short but there is still time to enjoy the mild temperatures and beautiful foliage.

Alaska is not well known for beautiful fall colors but they do appear briefly. There are many activities to enjoy during autumn as well. Photo by Christina Swayney.

The east coast of the U.S. is known for its leaf peepers, but fall colors can be enjoyed in and around Anchorage as well. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail goes through downtown Anchorage and provides views of the water, autumnal colors and Denali on a clear day. The trail is 11 miles long and is ideal for riding bikes, running and casual strolls. The trail also goes through Westchester Lagoon, offering mountain and water views of the city and activities such as kayaking.

Night owls can enjoy the northern lights right now. This is an ideal time to view the aurora borealis before the weather turns much colder. The northern lights can appear as long as the sky is dark and the conditions are clear. A good time to view them is on moonless nights. The University of Fairbanks has an Aurora Forecast website that predicts aurora activity and in what regions of Alaska it will be most visible.

There are plenty of places to see the northern lights in Anchorage. One such place is Point Woronzoff, which offers unobstructed views of the Cook Inlet with less light pollution. Point Woronzoff is right next to the Ted Stevens International Airport and onlookers can also view jets take off and land. If you’re looking to go for a short drive, head to Skyline Dr on Mt. Baldy, which overlooks Eagle River. This is a popular spot for viewing and can be crowded, especially if the aurora forecast is good.

If seeing wildlife and taking a calming stroll sound good, visit Potter Marsh. The wooden boardwalk provides stunning views of Turnagain Arm and wildlife such as otters, eagles, and a wide variety of other bird species. You might see the Alaska Railroad trains pass by as you stroll along the boardwalk and enjoy the fall colors as well. Bears and moose can also be seen in this area. Caution is advised.

Williams Reindeer Farms in Palmer offers a fall A-MAZE-ING Tour that includes a Tractor Drawn Wagon Ride, feeding reindeer, a hay maze and other activities. Tours must be booked in advance on the Williams Reindeer Farms website. Admission rates are $17 per person and free for children under two years old. The tours are two hours and masks are recommended.

Fall can get chilly and a warm drink can be comforting. Black Cup Coffee has its own version of Starbucks’ infamous Pumpkin Spice Latte. This version is anything but basic and has fresh ingredients like puréed pumpkin, grated ginger, spices and sweetened condensed milk. For an alternative, check out their Brown Sugar Rosemary Latte. Great Harvest Bread Co. makes some handmade specialty bread perfect for fall such as Caramel Apple bread and Cranberry Walnut Sourdough. Order pick-up is available. A Pie Stop offers many fresh sweet and savory pies such as the classic chicken pot pie, Mexican pot pie and pumpkin pie. They have carry-out, delivery and a drive-up window.

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Going out is not always the best option, sometimes staying in and getting cozy is. Make a hot drink such as apple cider, light some candles, get under a cozy blanket and practice some hygge, a Scandinavian lifestyle method that eases the discomforts of winter.

Thank goodness for Netflix and other streaming services during these days of social distancing. Some great fall movies to watch are “Sweet November,” “Legends of the Fall,” all the Harry Potter movies and “Hocus Pocus.”

For more information about Anchorage and surrounding area trails, visit the Municipality of Anchorage website.