Bird Ridge

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Difficulty
Difficult; uphill all the way. Only people in reasonably good shape should attempt this hike.
Miles One Way
2.5
Miles from Anchorage
25; on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm
Season
May to September

Description

This is a really great hike! It was so cool to get aerial views of places that I’ve hiked at ground level: Turnagain Arm, Indian Valley, Ship Lake Valley, and Bird Creek. The scenery is incredible and stunning, but boy, you are really going to have to work to get at them. The first 3 miles are very tough. Up and up and up. You see a ridge and think you’re almost there. Then you get to that ridge and there’s another.

Most guidebooks break this trail into 2 sections. The first is the initial peak at roughly 3,500 feet. Most people stop here which is fine, because you’re really exhausted by then. But it’s really worth the effort to go the extra miles and walk along the ridge up to the Overlook into the backcountry; an elevation of roughly 4,700. Most of it is pretty easy except the last part where there is a short ascent. Plus I have to say it’s really cool to walk along the spine of a mountain.

My suggestion is to start this hike early and give yourself the entire day. Bring a lunch, etc and plan on being up there for 6-8 hours. If it’s an especially nice day, you’ll be glad you did. Pace yourself for the initial haul, then leisurely head to the Overlook. Bring a map so you’ll be able to identify the valleys and peaks you’ll witness.

I really want to reiterate what a great hike this is! When I did it, my allergies were miserable and I really suffered while I was up there. Yet, it was one of the coolest hikes I’ve done in Alaska. This is probably one of the best hikes for viewing the Chugach Mountains.

Important Information

There are no water sources, even at the trailhead. Bring an adequate supply.

Needless to say, be very careful going down. It is quite steep.

Use the the actual ridgeline when heading to the Overlook, then use the trail along the side to get back. You’ll avoid a lot of elevation that way.

Etc.

This is a very popular mountain for racers and you’ll see them on your way up. To this day, I still can’t believe people actually get enjoyment out of doing something like that.

Topo Map

Bird Ridge topo map

Comments on hiking Bird Ridge

  1. Bill Cyr — November 10, 2018

    Spectacular scenery and not a person on the trail – wait a minute, there was no trail as I did this hike November 8, 2018 with about 3 feet of snow on the ground. Have hiked Bird Ridge the last 5 times I’ve been in Alaska, each time of the year has something special to offer – lots of wildflowers in the summer, plenty of blueberries in late summer (definitely bring bear spray), beautiful fall color, and crisp cold weather in the winter!

    This is one of the best hikes around with fantastic views of the Chugach Range and Turnagain Arm.

  2. Derrick — August 28, 2017

    This hike was truly breath taking and extremely strenuous. It just seems like 4.6 miles but the elevation gain is truly something you should care about. The first 2500 feet just keep going up and up with almost no flat ground. As you head higher from that there are few flat spots that come along. You climb a mountain and then realise you are at the bottom of another, feels never ending. Just know that each step along the way will make you happy at the ultimate view at the top. You start seeing the mountain ranges once you clear the initial forest area. The mountain peaks are visible all along with new ones becoming visible as you near the top. There was no one on this trail except my friend and me, which was a bit scary considering we were not equipped for a bear attack! It took us 3 hours to reach the top with short 1-2 minute breaks along the way and 2 hours to get down. There were some steep spots and some less trafficked areas that make you wait and decide on a safe way up. The top has a different weather. It got windy and chilly with my phone switching off due to the wind and low temperature. Make sure to have gloves with you. Definitely worth each step climbed and the amazing breathtaking view.

  3. Keith Terrell and Stephen Walker — August 1, 2016

    Great hike. We started out quite late in the day (1530) – having done Flattop in the morning.
    We stopped at the top peak and were not aware of the extension along the ridge to the overlook. We were very tired by the time we got down, though, so I think we did enough. I am 66 years old and not in particularly good shape – and I made it – so I think just about anyone who is reasonably fit and keen could do it. You will be tired at the end though.

  4. Tristan Nyman — June 8, 2016

    Ran Bird Ridge race style this morning. I expected it to be tough and it was! I would say most of the difficulty is based upon the endless false summits… But if you push through you will be fine. I imagine even simply hiking the ridge would be difficult, for it only goes uphill; never really any level spots (until you near the summit). Definitely a worthwhile hike though. If you plan to summit, you should probably consider your own physical abilities before attempting it, because it will give you a nice kick in the butt.

  5. Alissa N. — June 27, 2013

    Today was fantastic – warm, a comfortable cool breeze, and the wildflowers were spectacular. A great hike overall. As mentioned, being in relatively good shape will help you tremendously on this hike.

    If one is looking to practice flora IDs, this is a perfect time of year (June 27, 2013). We spent a decent amount of time examining plant and flower species for personal enjoyment and knowledge along the way.

  6. The following was submitted by Sharay Samuel Getting Kids Hiking:

    Difficulty: Somewhat Difficult – I do think you should be in good shape because it will hurt bad the next day.

    I personally think that kids as old as 8 can do the hike, and any person willing to stop and take breaks rather than just trying to get to the top. I have done this hike with my daughter and she has not gone to the top but she has gone at least 3500′, maybe more, but for that age it is great to get them trying new stuff. So it’s a hard, long day hike if you are out of shape but it will get you in shape. If you get to tree line, its worth it just for that far. It’s one of the best hikes in Anchorage but it’s just not a easy one to do all the way if new to hiking. Just work your way up to it. Its views start off quick in the hike.

    Etc: There is a new parking lot a little after the first trail head sign of Bird Ridge and if you go a little further that parking lot leads to the trail without the mile walk.

  7. The following was submitted by Jean:

    (08/18/08) A spur-of-the-moment with our visiting nephew from NC and my dog. What a great hike! We did not go all the way up, I estimate we stopped at about 2000′. Every turn had amazing views for us and a wonderful experience for nephew.

    Even though it is kind of a difficult trail, I think it is only because of the quick elevation gain. Coming down was not too difficult or scary as the footing was almost always good.

    This is another hike that I want to finish either this summer or next.

  8. The following was submitted anonymously:

    Bears on Bird Ridge- Friday August 15, 2008, a few of us ran into two very curious black bears. They decided to follow our dogs to us and got within 20 feet and did not seem nervous or agitated, just curious. We made some noise and scared them off, and went on our way back down. The same two circled around us and met us again about a 1/4 mile down the trail. Again, curious and sniffing, but not worrisome. Young looking, I’d say perhaps their first summer on their own and still sticking together. Just make some noise and be aware!

Have you done this hike? Please share your experience below: