Just as the city of Anchorage has it’s system of greenbelt trails, so does Eagle River, a small town just up the road on the Glenn Highway. For the first couple of miles, the trail stays near the river then follows along the lower ridge lines of the mountain. Most of the trail is among spruce and aspen with intermittent views of the mountains and the river.
For me, I like to use this trail in the winter when I don’t feel like making an effort but I’m bored with the trails in Anchorage from overuse. Therefore, I’m mainly recommending this hike for residents who may not be aware that this trail exists, especially those who live on the east side of Anchorage where Eagle River is close by. For the visitor staying in the Eagle River valley, I would recommend either the Eagle River Trail, Eagle and Symphony Lakes, or Hanging Valley.
Besides the ease factor, it’s very serene and gets a lot less traffic than Bicentennial Park. Also, of late, the residents of Eagle River seem to be a lot less uptight and self-righteous about my off leash dog.
The following was added January 5, 2007:
I had a really nice hike here yesterday. Usually I stop at the creek and head back, but this time I continued on and finally got to the falls. I wish I had my camera because it was a very beautiful sight. You could see the water falling underneath a sheet of ice and it was really incredible. First I watched it from an overlook and then headed down and slightly bushwhacked it right down to the edge of the falls.
I met some x-country skiers and while the maps show a trail that goes on for 8 miles, they told me most of it is overgrown with alder and very difficult to bushwhack.
Here’s how to get to the falls if you’re hiking from the parking lot by the bridge: after crossing the creek, keep straight and in a little ways, you’ll start veering right. continue past the utility lines to the intersection. continue up just a little ways for the overlook. Take a right to the bridge if you want to get right to the falls. the path is just before the bridge but be careful and be 100% sure that the ice/ground underneath you is firm.
About 2.5 miles in, the navigation can be a little bit confusing. The trail intersects with another and I believe you have to ford a small creek to continue on. At this point I’m not sure due to snow on the ground. I plan on checking out the trail for biking so I’ll have more information then. However, it would be impossible to get lost if you took the wrong trail since you are funneled between the river and the mountain.
The main parking lot is closed during the off season. There is a small lot just before the entrance. When it is open, the 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.