Eklutna Lake

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 3 stars.
Easy; no elevation gain
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
35; take the Eklutna exit off the Parks Highway
All year long (hike, cross country ski, snowshoe in winter)


Eklutna Lake, the largest lake in the park, is the City of Anchorage’s Reservoir. While the trail is no more than an unused road, the lake is beautiful as well as the surrounding landscape. It’s a nice place to walk around but if you really want to enjoy the area, bike it! This is one of the all time great places to do it.

Many people use the lake to kayak and canoe (no motorboats-it’s our drinking water!). In the winter, it’s a great place to hike and cross country ski and if it’s safe, many people walk on the lake.

On the trail, great views pop in and out of the trees as you travel along the west side of the lake. The trail then proceeds parallel to Eklutna river (but you won’t see it till the bridge). Past this, proceed to the end of the trail where the fierce and milky current of Eklutna River feeds off the glacier.

Leave your bike and continue on the primitive trail over boulders and rocks till you get to the end. This is a great spot for lunch. Unfortunately, the glacier has been receding and can not be seen from this point. Better views can be seen from the second bridge.

Important Information

It is extremely dangerous to try and climb over the rocks to get close to the glacier. Only experienced climbers should attempt it. It would be easier to climb up the side of the mountain on the other side of the river. However, the current is swift and icy. You can cross the river if the water level is low enough, especially late in the season. However, be aware that when you come back the river may be at a higher level due to glacial melt. Know how to ford a river before you take the chance. Better yet, go to Search Hikes for more accessible hikes to glaciers.

On certain days, ATV bikes are allowed on the trail. Call for times if you want to actually do it or avoid them.

There is a small cabin that rents bikes and kayaks if you’re visiting from out of town.

This is a really great recreation area and for people who are visiting and plan on camping, there is a state cabin for rent at mile 3 and mile12. Go here for reservation and availability. The cabin at mile 12 rents by the bunk and not by the entire cabin. If you don’t want to share with strangers, don’t rent here. In addition, a State campground exists at the trailhead on a first come, first serve basis. There are also some camp areas in back of the lake, one by the airstrip and one before mile 9. If you decide to stay over, you can bike the trail one day, hike Twin Peaks, Pepper Peak, or Bold Peak Valley the next, and rent a kayak the next day after that.


There is a $5 parking fee (bring exact amount). The price for an annual parking pass is $40. You can purchase a pass at the Federal Building at 4th and F or the Atwood Building on 7th and E, 12th Floor.

If you’re heading back to Anchorage, take a quick side trip and visit the Native Russian Church and Cemetery. Continue straight after the bridge for a few miles instead of taking the left turn onto the Glenn Highway. Stay outside the fenced area and be respectful of the premises.

If you’re renting one of the cabins in winter, the best way to hike in is to buy a cheap plastic sled and carry your stuff on it. For details about how I built mine, go here.

Topo Map

Eklutna Lake topo map

Comments on hiking Eklutna Lake

  1. John Moore — June 23, 2019

    Trail is very flat and mostly maintained. Once you’re around the back side of the lake, the views are incredible. Serenity Falls is plainly visible from the trail and it a really awesome feature. There is a foot trail that leads back from the end of the ATV trail but there is no chance of seeing the glacier from there. I went back to where the trail more or less runs out and then climbed the rocks that are right of the trail (if headed away from the lake). From there I saw some incredible views and also saw that there was just no chance of getting to the glacier.

  2. […] 7 days, we packed in as much adventure as we could with one day dedicated to riding 4-wheelers on Eklutna Lake.  This lake is a seven-mile-long lake with trails built beside it perfect for ATVs while other […]

  3. charles barber — July 3, 2018

    First time in Alaska for me and was awestruck from Anchorage up to eklutna mountains that touch the sky and a true wilderness trail for hikers and atv’s hiking beyond the trail is rigorous if you like challenges get some qaulity climbing boots and a small pack for water snacks and first aid ,you will see bears and other animal sign accompanied by a few slide wash areas beyond the arv trail that are not for the faint of heart.charles new Brockton Al.

  4. Avery Thompson — October 24, 2017

    Its a wonderful place to go four-wheeling. If you go in deep enough you can usually see some moose and mountain goats. It really is a beautiful place. I would recommend taking some water and snacks with you if you do decide to go four-wheeling. Definitely bring a camera as well! Towards the summits a lot of rock and mud slides happen as well, so be careful.

  5. 20 Alaska Adventures in 4 Weeks - — September 24, 2017

    […] but I certainly wasn’t going to be that close and not take my family to see it! . . . . . . For more info on Eklutna Lake click here. . . . 11. Winner Creek Trail . . . Making our way down South of Anchorage now, we went to Winner […]

  6. eklutna lake | wandering bee — June 15, 2016

    […] picture perfect day! Kerry and Kai joined me and Pepper for an outing to Eklutna Lake. What a beautiful and peaceful lake. There were a few kayakers out and we met a few people along the […]

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