Alyeska North Face
|Submitted By||Bill Walker|
|Miles One Way||2.2|
|Miles from Anchorage||45; in the town of Girdwood|
|General Vicinity||Chugach National Forest|
|Season||June to October|
This trail starts at the base of the tram at Mt Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood. The beginning of the trail is well marked and wide and is actually a service road. The trail starts up a slope skiers know as the Autobahn. The first 3/4 mile is a gentle uphill of the service road. The trail then begins to climb through several boggy areas. When I hiked it the ground was frozen. I imagine it can be a bit muddy when thawed. About the middle 3/4 mile if the trail is where most of the elevation gain occurs. This section is through alders and was well cleared with good footing. Above the alders the trail switchbacks very nicely with grand views of Girdwood valley the entire time. When the trail nears the summit, it mysteriously begins to switchback somewhat downhill, a couple times. This causes some frustration and, unfortunately, some hikers will be tempted to leave the trail and hike the alpine to the summit. The switchbacks eventually lead comfortably to the summit.
This trail first opened in August 2009. It starts at the base of the tram at Mt Alyeska ski resort in Girdwood, and it ends at the top of the tram. Hikers can ride the tram, free of charge, either up or down. Given the reduction in freebies at Alyeska ski resort in recent years, who knows how long the free tram ride will last.
You won’t be alone at the summit, there is a restaurant and the tram riders are there enjoying the view.
We grabbed a bowl of delicious chili at the Glacier Express restaurant and continued hiking upwards. Your hike need not end at the tram summit. Service roads continue to the summit of the ski resort (top of Chair 6). Experienced climbers could continue to the summit of Mt Alyeska.
If you descend from the top of chair 6 to the top of the tram by hiking along the ridge on the far right, you will get some awesome scenic exposure. The 2,000-feet plus exposure of the North Face gave me butterflies but the trail is wide and safe.
The base of the hike is in Girdwood – the town with the best food and beer, per capita, in the US.