Where to hike and keep your shoes clean this spring

Powerline Pass

Photo credit: Kelly Ireland

Powerline Pass trail runs through the Glen Alps Valley that is located adjacent to the popular Flattop trail. Unlike its busy neighbor, Power Line Pass stays relatively uncrowded. The main trail is an old beat up service road that runs above the tree line of the valley. It’s a total of 14 miles one way and is peppered with shorter loop trails that redirect you back onto the service road, to shorten the hike while still soaking in the views. A little less than 15 minutes from UAA, the trailhead can be reached at the Glen Alps Trailhead.

Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

Must haves: water, light snacks/lunch (depending on distance), comfortable hiking footwear, camera.

Dogs: A-OK

Mud Factor: Not bad

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Thunderbird Falls

Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

The Thunderbird Falls trail is located about 25 miles north of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. The trailhead can be found by following road signs after the Thunderbird Falls exit right before Eklutna Lake Road. This short 1-mile hike to a 200 foot waterfall that often freezes in the winter, leaving natural ice sculptures to be viewed. This short detour at the end of the trail down to the falls offers a longer route for hikers looking to get up close to Thunderbird Falls. A viewing deck is also available at the end of the main trail.

Difficulty: Easy (great for children)

Must haves: water, hiking boots, camera.

Dogs: leashed

Mud Factor: Not bad

Winner Creek

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The hand tram on the Winner Creek Trail. Photo credit: Kelly Ireland

Winner Creek Trailhead, a local Girdwood hike, is located just 45 miles south of Anchorage and offers a scenic 4-mile hike. It’s relatively flat and simple with portions of dense rainforest trails that leads to views of the gorge of Winner Creek from the footbridges above it. Also offered at the trail is a hand tram that has become a popular post for social media sites, so remember to take pictures.

Difficulty: Easy

Must haves: water, snacks, hiking boots, camera

Dogs: Leashed or controlled

Mud Factor: Not bad

Portage Lake Trail

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Portage Glacier viewed from the MV Ptarmigan on Portage Lake. Photo credit: Kelly Ireland

Portage Lake trailhead is located 50 miles south of Anchorage, just past Girdwood. This trail offers varying styles of landscape with tree cover, brush and open fields on a 2-mile hike to views of the lake filled with icebergs from receding Portage Glacier. Unfortunately, Portage Glacier can no longer be seen from the trail, but a slightly more difficult trail is offered that leads up to Middle Glacier with a view so close you can stand on it, literally.

Difficulty: Easy (Moderate Middle Glacier)

Must haves: water, lunch, camera (kayaks for a close up view of icebergs)

Dogs: A-OK

Mud Factor: Decent

Rabbit Lake

View from the Rabbit Lake Trail of Anchorage. Photo credit: Kelly Ireland

Upper Dearmoun Rabbit Lake Trail is one of the more difficult and longer trails located in the Anchorage area. Located just 15 minutes from UAA on the Seward Highway south off of DeArmoun Road, this trail consists of Glacially carved hills offering views of a rocky tundra mountainscape while crystal clear McHugh Creek flows in and out of the middle of the valley. This trail will lead you 7 miles back to a view of Rabbit Lake different from the nearby and more popular Rabbit Lake trails. A Mountain filled backdrop and reflections from the lake provide a great opportunity for photography.

Difficulty: Moderate

Must haves: water, lunch, camera, a back up SD card for more pictures

Dogs: leashed or controlled

Mud Factor: Decent