Difficulty
Easy; no elevation gain whatsoever
Connects With
Miles One Way
5.5
Miles from Anchorage
90; just past the city of Hope
Season
All year (hiking only)
Ratings
Hike rating
This trail was rated 3 moose hooves for hiking.

Description

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.

Important Information

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.

Etc.

The town of Hope is worth a quick “looky see”. There is basically one loop road with lots of historic houses and cabins.

  1. The following was submitted by Dan F. at AKTrailhead.com:

    I hiked the Gull Rock trail June 25th. I was under the impression when I went there that Gull Rock itself was the destination of the trail. It turns out, the trail only leads to a cliff overlooking Gull Rock (a small rocky island about 20 feet offshore from the mainland). A better description can be found at AKTrailhead.

    Gull Rock was one heck of a good hike though, easy-going and terrific scenery. My suggestion is that if hiking in the summer, start this trail in the late afternoon; the low-lying sun shining through the trees and the effect it has on the ocean bay is breathtaking.

    Thanks again for the Alaska Hike Search, it’s a rather handy reference.

  2. The following was submitted by Michael Haase:

    Hey, I did the Gull Rock Trail 2 days ago and loved it. I got home today and found your description of it.

    I found it interesting that about 4 miles in you enter a wildlife refuge. On the way back out I saw a bear about 80 feet from the sign announcing the wildlife refuge. It barely glanced at me before returning to its foraging, so it was obviously used to humans. I did notice bear shit on the trail, so I’m sure other people have encountered them a little closer. :)

    I really liked the small campsite at the trails end. I’m considering camping there when I go back. I’d feel pretty penned in if a bear wandered up there, though!

  3. The following was submitted by Bill Lawson on June 16, 2005:

    I hiked it yesterday to the end and back, almost all the down trees have been cut up, I think I only had to really crouch under one. The trail is in nice shape now. the hike was a little unnerving though, 5 different things of bear scat all along the trail, but didn’t see any bears.

    Webmaster’s note: good news about the trees! However, be very careful with your tent if you stay overnight and do not set up near dead trees.

  4. The following was submitted by Christine:

    A group of us took this hike on May 19th. It was beautiful. I was impressed with how clear the trail was of fallen trees. I was told though that later in the summer the Devil’s Club grows quite tall and creates a “canopy” over the trail. When we went, there were two or three spots where we had to cross some ice across water falls and small creeks. There were several patches of deep, tar-black mud also. The tree roots can be tricky in places. I’d definitely advise hiking boots. The views during the hike are patchy. Parts have excellent views of the water, but most of the trail is through woody sections with views of nothing but trees. The hike is well worth the few hours it took us to do the whole thing.

    Etc:
    I was impressed with the campground. It’s clean, and the views from the campground are amazing.

  5. The following was submitted by Samuel on April 7, 2008:

    I just did an overnight trip to Gull Rock this weekend and want everyone to be aware there is at least 30-40 down tree’s across the trail. Some of the tree’s are rather large, and require detours around them, others you have to crawl over or under, a bit difficult with a large pack. Does anyone know about upcoming trail crew for Gull Rock?

  6. The following was submitted by sduba2271 on May 12, 2008:

    Difficulty: Somewhat Easy – There is some elevation gain, but not a lot. The deeper you get into the trail the less suitable it becomes for younger children.

    Etc:
    There’s a bit of elevation gain despite what the description says but not much. As of yesterday 10 May 08 there’s still a few patches of snow/ice. The trail was quite muddy in several areas due to recent rain. The down trees have all been removed as of yesterday.

  7. Alaskahiker said:

    I did this hike for an overnighter with my scout troop 25. This hike is very well maintained, but there are a lot of roots and rocks sticking out of the trail. I would recommend doing this hike in early June. That way you can see the streaks of snow on the mountains. It’s really spectacular!

    Important Info

    • Bring a light backpack if you are staying overnight. There are some little bursts of elevation every once in a while. Top elevation is probably about 220 feet.
    • Bring a water purifier. If you are staying the night, this is crucial. The water there is pretty clean due to snow melt I assume, but purifying is the best way to get clean water.
    • There are a lot of little streams along the way to the rock, but there is one big stream near the end of the trail where you can purify water to cook and drink. You will know when you get to it because there is a huge bridge. That is the cleanest water I have ever tasted!
    • To get to the trail, you must go to the end of a campground and there will be a sign pointing to the trail.

    I hope my info helps.

  8. […] a great little hike along Gull Rock Trail this afternoon and hope to go further […]

  9. David said:

    15 November, 2014. The weather was in the mid 40s today making for a great hike. There were very few trees that were across the trail, and were all new falls. There were many standing/leaning dead that you need to be mindful of when setting camp and taking breaks. No signs of bears or other large game. I had the trail to my self for the most part except for two small groups right as I was getting back to the trail head.

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