Easy - gentle increase in elevation
Miles from Anchorage
0; about a 20 minute drive from downtown
This is an easy place to get to with lots of places to explore and wander about. Hidden Valley is a gently sloping glacial valley with really cool rock formations. A creek with lush greenery runs through the middle.
On the south side, a huge jagged mountain known as The Wedge dominates a reddish rocky terrain that almost seems Mars like. Off to the side is a small lake.
On the north side of the valley, near O'Malley Peak lie 2 tarns (the upper one being Hidden Lake) with a waterfall connecting the two. Also to the north is a rocky pond on top of a cliff with a stunning view.
I used to just walk through here to get to Ship Lake but now I stay overnight and continue on the next morning. Most people camp out right in the flat part of the valley but I like the upper Hidden Lake which is ringed by a mountain so it seems a lot more cozier. Once I saw a wolverine (a very rare sight) run up the mountain.
On the east side of the lake is a trail that runs up the moraine and onto Hidden Peak. It makes a great "day" hike after dinner.
This trail also makes a fine day hike. Either way, make sure you go to The Ramp to check out the view. And take the time to really walk around and check out the whole area.
The following was added August 13, 2006:
Since it looked like it was going to be a crappy weekend, I didn't feel like driving a long way for nothing, plus I wanted to be near the trailhead in case it was really coming down. I thought I'd camp near Rock Lake, near The Wedge as this part of the valley is really cool and I've never really taken the time to explore it. Surprisingly, the lake is gone! It must have drained out or something. I can't believe it dried up as this year has been very rainy.
Luckily, there was a meltwater pond nearby so I set up camp on a secluded moraine. Later on, I really walked around the area. This part of the valley is so cool! It's just one endless rocky tundra with tons of moraines. There's no privacy at Hidden Lake, but you could be 10 yards away from someone and not even know it on this side. Next time you're looking for a quick and easy getaway but want some solitude, head over to this section.
At the start of the trailhead you will have to cross Campbell Creek using a line of medium size boulders. If you don't have confidence in your balance, the water is about 1 foot if you want to just go ahead and ford it. Don't forget to detach your chest and hip straps on your pack.
It can get pretty windy up here. Make sure you face your tent away from the wind and have it securely tied down.
This is a pretty popular place for Anchorage residents so the solitude factor can be low on the weekends.
The Glen Alps Parking Lot requires 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.
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.