Gull Rock Trail
|Difficulty||Easy; no elevation gain whatsoever|
|Miles One Way||5.5|
|Miles from Anchorage||90; just past the city of Hope|
|General Vicinity||Chugach National ForestKenai National Wildlife Refuge|
|Season||All year (hiking only)|
The thing I like most about this hike is the destination – a tall cliff with beautiful views of Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm. The trail is mainly underneath canopy of spruce and aspen with intermittent views of the Arm.
This is usually one of the first hikes I do (usually April or May) as it’s one of the first places in the area to lose the snow. It’s a perfect hike to shed those cabin fever blues you’ve accumulated over the winter. There is also an abundance of dead wood for a fire if it gets cold.
Basically there are 3 sections to camp. The east side with great views but not much wind protection; the middle, with great wind protection but obstructed views (except one area which is incredible); and the upper which is probably colder.
I’d only recommend this trail if you are coming early or if you live here and just want to get out for a quick and easy weekend. This is also a great trail if you have kids.
For those visitors from the East Coast who are always underneath canopy, I would find another trail. Coming up to Alaska is all about being above tree line.
The following was added May 2, 2004:
I’ve always done this hike so early that I could never get to the actual cliff due to the snow. This year, I got a late start and finally got to the actual end of the outcrop. The view is spectacular with lots of flat rocks for a nice day hike picnic or dinner after camp. There are 2 really great campsites up there, one that will give you a spectacular sunset as you lay in your tent.
The only water source at the end is the creek that’s rushing down the mountain and is about 1/4 mile from where you’d want to camp. Bring a whole bunch of water containers or one of those big collapsible ones so you only have to make one trip.
Be prepared for a lot of fallen trees across the trail, mainly in the middle section. There are a few where you might as well just get on your hands and knees and crawl under.
It can get incredibly windy on the cliff. Make sure your tent can handle it. Be careful with your fire. Keep it low so sparks don’t fly. There are a lot of dead trees due to a spruce bark beetle infestation. Do not leave your fire unattended.
Most importantly, be careful where you put up your tent. The Arm has been known to get 100 mph winds so check the surrounding trees very carefully.
The trailhead starts at the Porcupine campground. You can do this as a day hike if so inclined. The campground is run by the Forest Service and very nice. You can make reservations ahead of time at recreation.gov. If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the five sites that look right out on Turnagain Arm.
The following was added March 25, 2005:
I just got back from my 5th time hiking this trail. There must have been some fierce wind storms since last year as there are even more downed trees across the trail than ever. There is one section where it is relentless and getting around a few was quite precarious due to my shifted center of gravity wearing a backpack. The worst is that there are now downed trees between the campsites and the water source. While I hate a trail that has a lot chain sawed logs around, I feel it is definitely the time for some serious trail maintenance.
The town of Hope is worth a quick “looky see”. There is basically one loop road with lots of historic houses and cabins.