Eklutna Lake

Chugach State Park


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 cannot 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, ATVs 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 mile 12. 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 on the back side 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 $60. You can purchase a pass at the Federal Building at 4th and F or the Atwood Building on 7th and E, 13th 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. Details about how I built my winter sled can be found here.

This hike was rated 3 stars.
13 miles
From Anchorage
35 miles
All year long (hike, cross country ski, snowshoe in winter)

Finding the Trailhead

Hike Map

Map of Eklutna Lake