Falls Creek Trail

Almost to the top. Photo by Ross Timm.
Difficulty Difficult; uphill the entire way. Only those in reasonably good shape should attempt this hike.
Miles One Way 4
Miles from Anchorage 20; on the Seward Highway on Turnagain Arm
General Vicinity Chugach State Park
Season May to September (if a lot of snow, be avalanche aware!)
Ratings
Hike rating
This trail was rated 3 moose hooves for hiking.

Description

This is a good early season hike and a great workout. The bottom of the trail is very narrow and wooded with views of the raging Falls Creek as you head up. Toward the top, above tree line, you’ll get great views of Turnagain Arm. The trail ends with an alpine lake in a nice glacier carved bowl. It’s pretty cool to go from canopied woods into rocky tundra.

If you’re a visitor with little time, there are better hikes (like its neighbor McHugh Trail). If you live here, it’s definitely worth the time, especially after breakup, when you’re going stir crazy.

Important Information

By a huge boulder, the trail becomes confusing; head left and little ways up.

If you’re doing this early in the season, grab some crampons or snowshoes so you can really get up to the lake area and explore.

Etc.

The small parking lot at the trailhead comes up quickly and is easy to miss. Use the Seward Highway mile markers and prepare to see it at about mile 105.

  1. The following was submitted by Conrad:

    Difficulty: Somewhat Difficult

    Well, it is a difficult trail, one of the toughest I’ve done, but that’s because I don’t go on any that look more difficult than this… like say, Cantata Peak or Eagle Peak. so, because I know there are much more difficult trails out there, I don’t want to give myself that much credit for this trail.

    A note on Y’s in the trail. About 1/4mile from the trailhead, you’ll come to a Y. You want to go right… but you don’t necessarily have to. It veers a bit away from the creek, but keeps you away from the arduous ascent through acres of overgrown devil’s club and 5 inch thick dust & rock. I kid you not; I accidentally missed the turn coming down, and hit this trail…and boy was I sorry, I had to “ski” the whole way down… my knees/ankles are not happy. After the right at the first Y, a little ways up on this trail you will come to another Y, take this one to the left. It will take you back down to the creek where it meets up with the original trail and continues on up the valley.

    Wear long pants. The devil’s club on this trail is a little hairy in places.

  2. The following was submitted by Ross Timm, and applies to Suicide Peaks as well:

    Description:

    My friend Patrick and I recently (early July) hiked South Suicide Peak from Falls Creek. The tarn was still mostly frozen, but the ground was almost clear of snow. The slog up lower Falls Creek, and then the knob up to the alpine tundra, kicks your butt. I had done it before and then gone up to the high rock ridge/point that splits the valley.

    That hike up to the rocky point is steep, but not overly so, and it has a loose trail to follow. One guide book suggests gaining that ridge and then joining the ridge that leads to S. Suicide. I think that would have been better than the route we took, which another guide book suggested in a kind of unclear way (it said to “gain the ridge above the tarn”, or something like that).

    Anyways, after debating the idea of going on, we decided to slog up the steep alpine tundra wall of the tarn valley, side tracking and switch backing in a general Northwest direction. That was pretty tough after the Falls Creek hike. Needless to say, once we got up to the ridge that leads to the southeast side of South Suicide peak, we were tuckered (especially me).

    From there, however, it is a classic ridge/peak walk, with no real bad fall exposure if you stay on the usually visible foot path. The views open up exponentially from the somewhat sheltered Falls Creek Valley as you gain elevation. By the time you reach the summit you have views of Anchorage, Bird Ridge, Penguin Peak, Hope Point, McHugh and Rainbow Peak Valley, Rabbit Creek Valley, Indian Creek Valley, etc.. It made for a long day hike though.. 6 hours total.

    Etc:

    Another thing- Falls Creek has overhanging cow parsnip that was just about to bloom. I did not feel any affects (and it was a very sunny day!)., so perhaps it really does not affect you until it blooms.

    Falls Creek from midway until you get into the alpine tundra is very thick with alders, grass, and the above. However, we did not see a single piece of bear scat. Don’t let your guard down though, this was just an observation. We did see over twenty sheep.

  3. The following was submitted by JJK:

    There is another Falls Creek trail, down close to the Kenai Lake, which also is moderate, and leads to ridge climbs and great views of the Sound and Resurrection Bay.

  4. kh said:

    I have hiked this trail twice this winter (2014). the lack of snow cover the first time made the decent a good workout for the legs, slippery in places due to ice. The second time there were 5-6 inches of new snow. At the lower elevation this was stiff in the morning and soft on the way down.

    Windy once out of the tree line. Since the wind was at our (brought my dog Zelda) backs on the way up it did not seem so bad, but facing into it on our return was fairly cold. I would recommend bringing a windbreaker for pets (and of course yourself) on a winter hike.

    We followed the trail as far as anyone had gone and the went another mile. Wind covered our tracks before coming back down.

    Stellar views of the inlet and the mountains, sunshine and untracked snow. Hiked up the mountain to the left of the trail, but encountered some wind blown slab snow and went back down. The avalanche debris, although small, was very hard ice blocks. We did not attempt the ridge as one of us didn’t have snow shoes or crampons.

    Recommend this trail to fairly to above athletic hikers.

Have you done this hike? Please share your experience below:

Falls Creek Trail topo map