Eagle and Symphony Lakes

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Difficulty
Easy; very little elevation gain. A stretch of boulders at the end commands caution while maneuvering through them.
Miles One Way
6
Miles from Anchorage
25; on the outskirts of the town of Eagle River
Season
June to September

Description

One of my favorite places to go! Very convenient to Anchorage and one of the most accessible ways to get into the backcountry. The trail starts over a ridge then descends into the valley. At the end, after climbing over the a slew of rocks and boulders from a long ago slide, are two lakes situated on both sides of a lateral moraine; Eagle Lake, which is a green milky color and Symphony Lake, a rich blue aquamarine color. The contrast in color is amazing and is one of the coolest sites in the park.

While many hike to the Lakes as a day hike, plan an overnighter to allow time for exploring. The scenery is gorgeous whichever lake you decide to camp by. Some people choose to camp right on the spine of the moraine getting views of both lakes. On the ridge is a strange wooden structure that was supposedly the start of a cabin.

If you head further down past Eagle Lake, a deep canyon forms where large herds of Dall Sheep reside. You can proceed up the end to Flute Glacier and Eagle Peak. Further down the Symphony Lake side is another canyon with waterfalls, boulder slopes and hidden lakes (tarns), as well as the trail to Triangle Peak. You may even want to explore the mountain, Cantata, that runs right up the middle of the moraine.

While this trail gets a lot of traffic, it’s still a great place to go and for intermediate backpackers who may be little freaked by trail-less areas, this is a great destination.

Important Information

Until you get to the bridge down in the valley, you are on private property. Stay on the trail and respect the owners.

There are good spots to pitch a tent but you have to look. Drop your pack on the spine and take a good look around before you decide. Expect to get your feet wet if you head into the Eagle Lake Canyon; some parts are marshy. Frank Baker, who submitted the hike for Flute Glacier, suggests bringing tennis shoes to use till you get to the end of the canyon.

If traveling with your pooch, keep a jug of water and a bowl in your vehicle. There are no water sources (except boggy stuff), from the bridge to the trailhead. If it’s a hot day, your dog will thank you.

Etc.

From a geologist’s perspective, the landscape is quite interesting. Here we have two glaciers running side by side each grinding a different set of minerals affecting the color of the tarns they left behind. FYI-glacial lakes get their color from the sun reflecting off the minerals that the previous glacier ground to a fine silt.

Finding the Trailhead

Take the Glenn Highway to the Eagle River Loop / Hiland Road exit. Turn right off the highway, and then another right onto Hiland Road, which you will follow for several miles, nearly all the way to the end. Turn right on South Creek Road, then another right on West Creek Drive. The parking area for the trailhead will be on your left. This is a very popular trail, and on a busy summer weekend (especially if the weather is nice), expect to find cars overflowing the parking lot and lined all along the side of the road.

Topo Map

Eagle and Symphony Lakes topo map

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