One of my biggest complaints about living on the east side of Anchorage is the irony that we live so close to many of the best hikes in Chugach State Park yet have the hardest time getting to them. Getting to the trailheads of Wolverine, Near Point, and Williwaw entails either bushwhacking and taking obscure paths to the Prospect Heights Trail or driving all the way to South Anchorage to get to its trailhead, a not very welcoming prospect during rush hour.
I’ve done both and mostly use an old trail on Campbell Airstrip Road that someone had to take me on first so I understood how to use it. I hadn’t been on it in awhile and last weekend, to my utter joy, found that work is being done on converting it into a real access trail. You use to have to park on the shoulder of the road; now there is a parking lot. It looks like work is being done on the trail itself with brush being cleared and dead trees being chainsawed out of the way. They even paved the road to it so no more hardcore potholes!
The hike itself isn’t much although there are some great views of Flat Top, O’Malley, and Wolverine. It’s a short hike and pretty soon, there you are, ready to start the real part of your hike.
It is very easy to get off trail the first few times you use it. Don’t worry. Just keeping heading towards the mountains and when you get to the main trail, Prospect Heights, find the trailhead at Wolverine and that is the end of the trail.
The basic directions are as follow: From the new parking lot, take the trail to the second set of power line poles just before the canyon. You will see the trail curve up. Continue on the trail making sure you stay on the one that follows the rim of the canyon. The trail will eventually head down where you will cross over a small hollow. Just ahead you will see a tree with a yellow metal tag attached to it.
STOP! Turn around and take a mental picture of your surroundings. It is easy to miss the trail going back up to the rim when returning. You’ll know you missed it when you come back if you wind up at the creek.
Turn back towards the mountains. A few feet ahead of the yellow tagged tree, take a left and go up the small hill. Take a right and continue following the tags to the Prospect Heights Trail.. Continue forward to take the trail up Wolverine. Take a left to get to the Near Point trail and access to the Canyon Creek Trail. Take a right to get to the Middle Fork Loop trail which will take you to Williwaw Valley and the Glen Alps (Flat Top) section of the Chugach.
The trail can get buggy in the summer; bring the DEET.
You can use this trail in the winter but the snow can make it hard to find. You will most likely need snow shoes or cross country skis.
If you live on the east side of Anchorage, tell you legislators you want to see more trails like this into the Chugach.