Bird Ridge Tarns

Chugach State Park


This isn't a trail proper which is very surprising considering how accessible this is and all the great scenery and exploration options.

I spent 3 days here in early July 2020 camping in the lower valley and exploring it the first day, exploring the upper tarns the 2nd day, and unfortunately mostly stuck in my tent the 3rd day due to never ending rain (instead of backpacking over to Ship Lake like I planned)

The lower valley has multiple tarns and being fed from multiple creeks coming down from the mountains. As you get into the back of the valley, there are multiple moraines with lush soft tundra to set up your tent. When I was exploring the area after camp, saw numerous birds who were obviously raising young since they got very upset when I was close by.

One very cool thing during my walkabout was seeing 3 juvenile wolverines midway up the mountain. They were playing and enjoying themselves and I was able to observe them for about 5 minutes until they spotted me and took off.

The upper tarns area is incredible, and I wished I camped there instead. The tundra is lush and endless and plenty of great spots to set up your tent. The view of lower valley and beyond to Arctic Valley is incredible. Each of the three tarns is unique and worth exploring along with the whole area closely.

Important Information

You can access the valley either through Ship Lake or Indian Valley. To access the lower valley to the back, I would stay on the western ridge side as there is a lot less water and bushwhacking. Don't get me wrong, you'll still have to look ahead and plan the best way forward, but I believe you're more likely to keep your boots dry on the west side. To get to the upper tarns, find the best place to cross the main creek and head diagonally up the main moraine where the grade is easiest to ascend.

See my description of Indian Valley and be prepared for post-holing early season and overgrown, possibly bushwhacking late season. When the trail is overgrown, be bear aware and make a lot of noise.


The Glen Alps Parking Lot requires a $5 parking fee (bring exact amount). The price for an annual parking pass is $60. You can purchase a pass at the Federal Building at 4th and F or the Atwood Building on 7th and E, 13th Floor.

This hike was rated 4 stars.
Connects With
6.5 miles
From Anchorage
20 miles
June to September

Finding the Trailhead

Hike Map

Map of Bird Ridge Tarns