Alyeska Roundhouse

Chugach National Forest
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Submitted By
Ross Timm
Difficulty
Somewhat Difficult
Miles One Way
2
Miles from Anchorage
40; in the town of Girdwood at the Alyeska Ski Resort
Season
June through September

Description

This hike is a great one for a visitor to do rather than Flattop. For one, you get the drive to Girdwood. Second, you get great views, a good hike with varying levels of steepness, and a interesting juxtaposition of ski-lift technology, history, and rugged outdoors. Third, you get to mingle with fine diners and tourists on the tram chalet’s deck (ok– not always a bonus). Fourth- you have a bathroom and a tram down! Great for guests to see it all! Oh yeah– you have Chair 5 to get a burger, beer, and/or pizza on the bottom.
Anyway, I started doing this hike with friends who liked a challenge of racing to the top along the straight up path. It kills. But it is a good training route for other steep climbs. You start at the end of the old condos to the right of the Stizmark. You can park there for free, like most areas in Girdwood that I know of.

I have since started going up the Chalet’s service road. Follow local’s directions or the book 50 Hikes. It is hard to describe how to find it, because there are a lot of paths on the mountain. Anyways, it is not a “road” in the regular sense. There is NO traffic, and it has extremely steep parts for a road, loose rocks, bear signs, etc. In early summer it has rushing streams going through culverts. You go past seemingly abandoned ski lift stuff that is just waiting for the next winter.

Eventually you get to the Chalet and the old Roundhouse. From there you can go on (see the book, as I have not done so). I have always enjoyed the view and avoided the crowds if possible by scouting around. If you ski or snowboard it is strange to see the dirt. If you are a talker you will always find a conversation from the tourists AMAZED that you climbed all the way up that big hill. Get on the tram and it takes you to the Prince Hotel. From there ask for directions if you are unsure and do not want to take the paved road back. Head up the trail above Chair 7, then down past Chair 3 right above the Sitzmark/ old hotel– you will see your car as you get to the bottom.

Important Information

Sorry the description is so long– there are a lot of hikes on the clear ski paths and access roads for sno-cats. The access road to the top is pretty different in that it is mostly rock and rough gravel. I heard it ices over in October and they close it. They do not allow hiking before sometime in June, I think. There may a fee for the tram down. Bears have been encountered on the access road, and in some ways it is more isolated than other paths, depending on the time and the weather and how many exercise hikers are out.

Etc.

The Alyeska Resort is a great place to hang out and have a drink after the hike. The bakery down the hill is a worthwhile stop as well.

Topo Map

Alyeska Roundhouse topo map

Comments on hiking Alyeska Roundhouse

  1. The following is a contribution from Paul “Kegger” Koecher:

    Joe R. and I went past the roundhouse up toward the glacier above X-mas/New-years chute. We then cut right, across the glacier and slant-walked to the ridge above. (not recommended if you want to go higher: for that, take the road and lose a little elevation and approach from further south – right if you’re looking up at the mtn-). Getting up on that ridge was awesome, however I felt a little bit exposed as we got higher up.

  2. The following is a contribution from Bill Lawson:

    November 3, 2005: Uphill hiking traffic is now closed for the season per Alyeska’s web page. Note is down at the bottom. But I think it has only been closed for about two weeks – only since they started making snow.

    The main thing I would like to add is about the section of the mountain from the Roundhouse/Chalet up the mountain and into the area called Glacier Bowl. I like to cheat a little and take the tram up to the Chalet to start (free all year if you have a season ski pass or Alyeska gold card). The service road/cat trail mentioned continues past the Chalet and runs up to the top of Chair 6 (the quad, elev.-2,750’) and is easily followed. Beyond the top of Chair 6 are several things people should take note of:

    -the ridgeline adjacent and above the lift house for Chair 6 has some very steep dangerous drop offs down the north face of Mt. Alyeska and into the valley (for skiers/boarders, this area is the side of the trail that leads from Chair 6 to Mighty Mite, and the ridge where Christmas, and New Years Chutes are located.). There are foot trails that run right up along the edge of the ridge that users should use caution, especially if there are young children in the party.

    -There are signs at the tram/Chalet that talk about unexploded ordinance left over from winter avalanche mitigation. Hikers should use caution and follow warnings/directions on posted signs. However, I personally have spent a lot of time up around glacier bowl and have never seen any.

    -Glacier Bowl got its name because there is a large hanging glacier there year round. Once you hike that high (elev.-3,400’ +) be aware the mountain walls around Glacier Bowl are very active. There is constant sound of rocks tumbling down/glacier moving. Also, all the typical dangers of being on/around a glacier are present. If you do not have the proper training and equipment I would avoid continuing onto the glacier itself, however if you keep to the left hand side of the bowl you can hike rather far up.

    -just because this area can be accessed very easily via the tram, hikers should take it as seriously as any hike into similarly challenging terrain.

    I think equally as stunning to the tourist and diners is when you ride the tram up with them and you’re all geared up and then start walking up the mountain even further.

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