Lower Eagle River Trail

Chugach State Park
This hike was rated 2 stars.
Easy; no elevation gain. However, connecting and side trails can make for somewhat confusing navigation.
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
15; in the town of Eagle River
All year (hike, snowshoe, or cross country ski in winter)


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.

Important Information

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.

Topo Map

Lower Eagle River Trail topo map

Comments on hiking Lower Eagle River Trail

  1. Matt Soule — February 8, 2017

    Just a couple of updates. The old section of trail skirting the private land has been dramatically improved and is now clearly marked. There are small boardwalks added to a marshy section next to the Swan Pond and a new single track trail cut through the woods from the pond up to the confluence of South Fork and Eagle River. When you come out of the single track trail, proceeding left will take you down towards Eagle River and the confluence. If you stay to the right you will reach a point about 50 yards up where South Fork can be forded with relative ease. In the winter this area usually has a natural ice bridge. After the crossing continue South on the main trail for about .75 miles where you will find a four way intersection with an access road and continuing for .5 miles to the South, the trail to Barbara Falls. If you take a left and head East on the access road you can go out another 3-4 miles before the road is posted as private. Once you cross South Fork and head towards the falls you will see quite a few side trails and loops to explore. These can weave around a bit and tend to merge with game trails in places. I would recommend sticking to the main trails until familiar with the area.

  2. Chris — July 25, 2013

    One important note. The trail is a bit tricky and for a section runs adjacent to the private Joe Bear Homestead. Joe Bear has marked the private areas well, so please respect them. If in doubt stay towards the left going in and the right going out (river wards).

  3. The following was submitted by Kenrick Mock:

    I was reading your hike about the Lower Eagle River Trail, and you had a note about navigation when you get to the south fork of eagle river. I go running there quite often, and after crossing the river the trail continues up toward the South Fork waterfall, which most people don’t seem to know exists. There is also access on the waterfall end from Ken Logan Cir, off Riverview Drive, off Hiland Rd. If you keep going up past the waterfall the trail dead-ends into private property but there is a longer trail that peels off to the east near the Ken Logan Cir access point. If someone was coming from the boat access side and didn’t want to cross the river, there is still a way to the waterfall. When the trail forks at 2 miles, instead of going left toward the confluence, head right, uphill. After about a mile uphill, the trail turns into Stonehill which at this point is a dirt trail. Go to your left and the trail turns into a road that leads to Ken Logan Cir.
    I see a number of people biking on the trails.

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