The trail is very muddy and boggy in summer so you can only use this trail in winter. However, it's one of the best winter trails near the city and one of the easiest ways to get into some unspoiled backcountry. The trail is not groomed so either cross country skis or snowshoes are recommended.
Travel through spruce forest with many openings for views of this long glacial valley with endless mountains on both sides.
The thing I like about this trail is its solitude. Once you get in a few miles and away from the ski resort, you can really feel like you're in the deep wilderness. To me, hiking in the winter is an incredibly serene experience and this trail really fits the bill.
A popular trip in winter is to cross country ski right into Indian Valley with an extra car waiting at that trailhead. However, be prepared for some real bushwhacking and post holing at the center area of the two valleys. The best way to hike this in the winter is to buy a cheap plastic sled and carry your stuff on it. For details about how I built mine, go here.
Finding the trailhead can be difficult if the sign is buried in snow. The trail is about a 1/4 mile below the ski resort. As you near the top, slow down and look carefully to your left. There are usually a few parking spots plowed off to the side. If you are staying overnight, it would be wise to park in Alpenglow Ski Resort's lot and pay the $5 a day fee. Bring exact change.
If there is too much snow on the ground making traveling difficult, you can salvage the trip and walk around the ski area.
Artic Valley Road is on a military reservation and as such, you are being given the privilege of using it to get to the trailhead. Please obey all traffic signs. Be prepared in these troubled times that the road may be closed if the base is on alert. It was closed after 9-11 till March of 2002.
Although most of the trail is in the middle of the valley, be safe and educate yourself on avalanche dangers.
The first part of the trail is on military land. You will need to get a permit to hike there and let them know. Click here for more information.
The drive up Artic Valley Road is a trip in itself with stunning views of Sleeping Lady, Anchorage, Cook Inlet and the Chugach Mountains.