Somewhat difficult - the hike up O'Malley is very steep. If you plan on going down the scree (to Black Lake), add another point of difficulty (as well as going back up).
Miles from Anchorage
0; about a 20 minute drive from downtown
Most people use this as a thru hike to get to Williwaw Lakes but it makes a fine day hike and overnighter in its own right. The climb up to the saddle of O'Malley is a bit tough, but once you get up there, the terrain and landscape features are very unique and spectacular, and worth the effort. First on the menu is a glacial valley that literally is almost as flat and wide as a football field. In the fall, it is a colorful mosaic of rock and scrub. Note: Some people call this area the Ballpark.
As you head further up the slope, you come to Deep Lake. It's quite interesting as it looks like a huge bowl that is half filled.
About a 1/4 mile from that, you will look down at Black Lake from a dizzying height with a gorgeous view of Williwaw Valley and sights beyond. The lake is a wonderful deep blue color, almost like a marble. As a day hike and a final destination, it is definitely worth it. It is an incredible view and a great place to have lunch. There is a good chance of viewing dall sheep as well as eagles, fox and arctic ground squirrels.
I am stating the obvious but be careful going down the scree to Black Lake. Always make sure the rock is secure before putting your weight on it.
Ascending the scree can be quite daunting looking at it from the bottom. Once you start climbing, you'll realize it's mostly in your head. Stay on the left side where there is less rock and more boulders to grab onto. Take your time and do a little Rocky Balboa dance when you get to the top.
If you're day hiking, consider walking back via the North Ridge to get great views of both valleys. There is a spectacular rock formation just before you would cross over the Football Field to rejoin the trail.
The Glen Alps Parking Lot requires a $5 parking fee (bring exact amount). The price for an annual parking 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.
Here are the directions for getting there: take the Seward Highway to the O'Malley exit and head east. After a few miles, follow the signs to Glen Alps. Make a right on Hillside Drive then a left on Upper Huffman. Turn right on Toilsome Hill. this road will twist and wind up the hills for about two miles.
There are a lot of great hikes around this area. Don't let the proximity to Anchorage deter you from this wonderful place. For hikes in this vicinity, go to the Powerline Pass hike page.