This hike was rated 3 stars.
Easy; no elevation gain whatsoever
Connects With
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
90; just past the city of Hope
All year (hiking only)


The thing I like most about this hike is the destination – a tall cliff with beautiful views of Cook Inlet and Turnagain Arm.  The trail is mainly underneath canopy of spruce and aspen with intermittent views of the Arm.

This is usually one of the first hikes I do (usually April or May) as it’s one of the first places in the area to lose the snow.  It’s a perfect hike to shed those cabin fever blues you’ve accumulated over the winter. There is also an abundance of dead wood for a fire if it gets cold.

Basically there are 3 sections to camp. The east side with great views but not much wind protection; the middle, with great wind protection but obstructed views (except one area which is incredible); and the upper which is probably colder.

I’d only recommend this trail if you are coming early or if you live here and just want to get out for a quick and easy weekend. This is also a great trail if you have kids.

For those visitors from the East Coast who are always underneath canopy, I would find another trail. Coming up to Alaska is all about being above tree line.

The following was added May 2, 2004:

I’ve always done this hike so early that I could never get to the actual cliff due to the snow. This year, I got a late start and finally got to the actual end of the outcrop. The view is spectacular with lots of flat rocks for a nice day hike picnic or dinner after camp. There are 2 really great campsites up there, one that will give you a spectacular sunset as you lay in your tent.

Important Information

The only water source at the end is the creek that’s rushing down the mountain and is about 1/4 mile from where you’d want to camp. Bring a whole bunch of water containers or one of those big collapsible ones so you only have to make one trip.

Be prepared for a lot of fallen trees across the trail, mainly in the middle section. There are a few where you might as well just get on your hands and knees and crawl under.

It can get incredibly windy on the cliff. Make sure your tent can handle it. Be careful with your fire. Keep it low so sparks don’t fly. There are a lot of dead trees due to a spruce bark beetle infestation. Do not leave your fire unattended.

Most importantly, be careful where you put up your tent. The Arm has been known to get 100 mph winds so check the surrounding trees very carefully.

The trailhead starts at the Porcupine campground. You can do this as a day hike if so inclined. The campground is run by the Forest Service and very nice. You can make reservations ahead of time at If you’re lucky, you’ll get one of the five sites that look right out on Turnagain Arm.

The following was added March 25, 2005:

I just got back from my 5th time hiking this trail. There must have been some fierce wind storms since last year as there are even more downed trees across the trail than ever. There is one section where it is relentless and getting around a few was quite precarious due to my shifted center of gravity wearing a backpack. The worst is that there are now downed trees between the campsites and the water source. While I hate a trail that has a lot chain sawed logs around, I feel it is definitely the time for some serious trail maintenance.


The town of Hope is worth a quick “looky see”. There is basically one loop road with lots of historic houses and cabins.

Topo Map

Gull Rock Trail topo map

Comments on hiking Gull Rock Trail

  1. Paul — July 15, 2018

    This weekend will make the 3rd and likely last time I’ve done this trail. The last couple of years, I went much earlier in the year (May). I am convinced that despite the warmer temperature, I’d much rather do this at the end of spring / beginning of summer instead. Why? Cow Parsnip- literally everywhere. There are certain spots where the foliage you have to go through is made up entirely of Cow Parsnip and Devil’s Club, so looking back at it, the middle of summer is probably not the best time to go especially if you’ve got kids. Besides that I’ve mostly enjoyed the varied terrain, and different micro-climates you traverse through. Now excuse me while I rub this Aloe on my skin.

  2. Amelia Hall — July 26, 2017

    I have done this hike several times with my husband. This is the first time we’ve done it in the summer and either things have been growing very quickly or it hasn’t been maintained in some time. Prepare for some serious bushwacking.

  3. Marty — May 30, 2017

    Went out there to camp and first ever backpack trip with my 9 year old. It was great. The hike is fairly easy. None of the down trees mentioned in earlier comments. Lots of evidence of trail clearing. Gull Rock itself was incredibly windy so we scrambled down to a leeward beach in comfort for dinner and a campfire. As we sat there a pod of belugas came swimming by. Perfect.
    Trail was in great shape with some short rooty and rocky sections.
    Bear sign in the pine forest section about 1/2 mile to a mile from Gull rock seemed to be their stomping ground.
    Solid hiking, terrific scenery, wild Alaska.
    A Great first time backpack camping adventure for me and my son.
    Then we stopped on Main St. in Hope to get some snacks

  4. Hope, Alaska - Earthly Pursuits — February 14, 2017

    […] rather take in the scenery, there are plenty of walks along the shore that are easy, most notably Gull Rock Trail which connects Hope to porcupine pass […]

  5. Robyn — June 22, 2016

    Despite the description “no elevation gain whatsoever”, there are some ups and downs that made me work a bit (carrying my overnight pack). I only found one downed tree, easily navigated over. A couple of muddy spots, but nothing too bad. My biggest dislike about this hike was that in multiple spots throughout the hike the brush was so overgrown I couldn’t see the trail (and thus, nearly broke my ankle a time or two tripping over roots). Beautiful views at the end though. Pretty much had the place to myself. I didn’t see anybody on the way in during the afternoon, and only passed two small groups on my way back out the next morning.

  6. Drewski — May 16, 2016

    A group of us hiked this on May 14, 2016. It was a stunning sunny day on the trail! Absolutely gorgeous. We counted at least 95 people on foot and 29 on mountain bike. Busy weekend! The Porcupine campground had signs that said, “No Fees, No services”. Pack out what you pack in.

  7. Beth Steele — May 8, 2016

    I love this hike. Like the description states, you don’t gain any elevation overall (you might actually lose some) but there are some quick ups and downs that the trail takes that’ll get your heart beating pretty quick. It’s a great hike to start the summer with and the town of Hope is an added bonus. The hike provides a variety of scenery – you start out in a swath of alder, progress into more dark forest, then there’s a rock slide that you cross (VERY easily – no concern whatsoever even for children) at about 2.5 miles in. No where on this hike is there easy access to any of the coves or ‘beaches’ – though there is one area about a mile in where you can step off the trail towards the water and someone has tied a rope to a tree that you can use to help stabilize you as you climb down a dirt chute to a beach (thanks to whomever did that!). This trail is excellently maintained. There are trees that have fallen across the path but whatever org is taking care of this trail cuts through them in record time. This trail could be considered a little boring, but the end views always make it worth it. Make sure to explore the area at the end – there are at least a dozen side trails that will get you to unique and spectacular views. It’s definitely an ‘old faithful’ hike in my book.

  8. Andrew — May 18, 2015

    A group of 4 of us camped at the campground and did this hike as a day hike. Beautiful hike this time of year. The trail was fairly busy, probably saw 15 mountain bikers and 30 people on foot. The views over the arm were great.

  9. Frank Baker — April 1, 2015

    U.S. Forest Service has done a spectacular job of clearing all the downed trees — the trail is completely clear. If you go through the area you’ll be amazed how much cutting was required to complete this Herculean task. They should be applauded for their tremendous job!!!!

  10. David — November 15, 2014

    The weather was in the mid 40s today making for a great hike. There were very few trees that were across the trail, and were all new falls. There were many standing/leaning dead that you need to be mindful of when setting camp and taking breaks. No signs of bears or other large game. I had the trail to my self for the most part except for two small groups right as I was getting back to the trail head.

  11. […] a great little hike along Gull Rock Trail this afternoon and hope to go further […]

  12. Alaskahiker — June 8, 2013

    I did this hike for an overnighter with my scout troop 25. This hike is very well maintained, but there are a lot of roots and rocks sticking out of the trail. I would recommend doing this hike in early June. That way you can see the streaks of snow on the mountains. It’s really spectacular!

    Important Info

    • Bring a light backpack if you are staying overnight. There are some little bursts of elevation every once in a while. Top elevation is probably about 220 feet.
    • Bring a water purifier. If you are staying the night, this is crucial. The water there is pretty clean due to snow melt I assume, but purifying is the best way to get clean water.
    • There are a lot of little streams along the way to the rock, but there is one big stream near the end of the trail where you can purify water to cook and drink. You will know when you get to it because there is a huge bridge. That is the cleanest water I have ever tasted!
    • To get to the trail, you must go to the end of a campground and there will be a sign pointing to the trail.

    I hope my info helps.

  13. The following was submitted by Samuel on April 7, 2008:

    I just did an overnight trip to Gull Rock this weekend and want everyone to be aware there is at least 30-40 down tree’s across the trail. Some of the tree’s are rather large, and require detours around them, others you have to crawl over or under, a bit difficult with a large pack. Does anyone know about upcoming trail crew for Gull Rock?

  14. The following was submitted by Christine:

    A group of us took this hike on May 19th. It was beautiful. I was impressed with how clear the trail was of fallen trees. I was told though that later in the summer the Devil’s Club grows quite tall and creates a “canopy” over the trail. When we went, there were two or three spots where we had to cross some ice across water falls and small creeks. There were several patches of deep, tar-black mud also. The tree roots can be tricky in places. I’d definitely advise hiking boots. The views during the hike are patchy. Parts have excellent views of the water, but most of the trail is through woody sections with views of nothing but trees. The hike is well worth the few hours it took us to do the whole thing.

    I was impressed with the campground. It’s clean, and the views from the campground are amazing.

  15. The following was submitted by Bill Lawson on June 16, 2005:

    I hiked it yesterday to the end and back, almost all the down trees have been cut up, I think I only had to really crouch under one. The trail is in nice shape now. the hike was a little unnerving though, 5 different things of bear scat all along the trail, but didn’t see any bears.

    Webmaster’s note: good news about the trees! However, be very careful with your tent if you stay overnight and do not set up near dead trees.

  16. The following was submitted by Michael Haase:

    Hey, I did the Gull Rock Trail 2 days ago and loved it. I got home today and found your description of it.

    I found it interesting that about 4 miles in you enter a wildlife refuge. On the way back out I saw a bear about 80 feet from the sign announcing the wildlife refuge. It barely glanced at me before returning to its foraging, so it was obviously used to humans. I did notice bear shit on the trail, so I’m sure other people have encountered them a little closer. 🙂

    I really liked the small campsite at the trails end. I’m considering camping there when I go back. I’d feel pretty penned in if a bear wandered up there, though!

  17. The following was submitted by Dan F. at

    I hiked the Gull Rock trail June 25th. I was under the impression when I went there that Gull Rock itself was the destination of the trail. It turns out, the trail only leads to a cliff overlooking Gull Rock (a small rocky island about 20 feet offshore from the mainland). A better description can be found at AKTrailhead.

    Gull Rock was one heck of a good hike though, easy-going and terrific scenery. My suggestion is that if hiking in the summer, start this trail in the late afternoon; the low-lying sun shining through the trees and the effect it has on the ocean bay is breathtaking.

    Thanks again for the Alaska Hike Search, it’s a rather handy reference.

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