Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Municipality of Anchorage
This hike was rated 3 stars.
Difficulty
Easy; some hills and a big one at the end but otherwise flat.
Miles One Way
11
Miles from Anchorage
In town; there are a number of possible starting locations if you only want to cover part of the trail, including Elderberry Park downtown, Westchester Lagoon, Earthquake Park, and Kincaid Park.
Season
All year

Description

Anchorage has some of the nicest city trails in the world and the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is its crown jewel. While I’m counting this as a hike, I recommend renting a bike for this.

Most of the trail is around Cook Inlet as well as marsh, muskeg, and spruce forest connecting Westchester Lagoon, Earthquake Park, Point Woronzof, and Kincaid Park. There are great views of Sleeping Lady (Mt. Susitna), Fire Island, and on clear days, Denali.

I am not kidding you when I tell you I’ve seen more wildlife on this trail than in the backcountry including red fox, coyote, moose galore, bald eagles and countless waterfowl. If you’re lucky, you may see whales at Point Woronzof.

If you have a day in town between adventures, rent a bike and do it. You won’t be sorry.

Important Information

Warning! It is highly likely that you will encounter moose on the trail (and I mean ON the trail). Be careful riding fast when you can’t see far ahead of you. If a moose is off to the side you can usually pass without impunity, but don’t linger. If you see a cow with her calves, use extreme caution! When in doubt, turn back. Go to my Education page for more info on these big guys.

Warning! Under no circumstances should you ever walk onto a mudflat. It is very similar to quicksand and you will find it very hard to remove your feet from the mud. With one of the fastest tides in the world, you’re looking at a deadly combination.

Even though this is a city trail, there are no stores or vendors along the way. Make sure you bring a water bottle and some snacks if necessary. At the end of the trail is Kincaid Park where you will find a community center open until 10 pm with restrooms and vending machines.

Etc.

You can rent bicycles from many places downtown and midtown. There’s a great shop at 4th and D in the Ship Creek Plaza.

Someday this trail will go all the way to Portage Valley. Until then, there is also great biking on the Seward Highway along Turnagain Arm.

Topo Map

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail topo map

Comments on hiking Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

  1. Shadara Wood — May 18, 2017

    Lots of places to come into the trail system. We like to start at Kincaid park, but if you plan on doubling back the last hill can be a bit of a crapper when you’re tired so just plan ahead for it. No parking fees that I am aware of along the trail, so you can decide if you want the trail to be more forest and water front with great views of our wind turbines or if you would like to start downtown and have a more city feel. Depending on your mood this is a versatile, mainly flat trail with gentle hills. If stating at Earthquake park take a minute to read up on our great quake. If your downtown try and hit Westchester Lagoon area, full of birds and even a playground for the Littles.

  2. The following was submitted by Ross Timm:

    I grew up here and just discovered a hidden Anchorage secret— the Anchorage version of a Puget Sound beach… The rise of terrain at Kincaid’s ski chalet ends at the waters edge with an extremely steep gravel and sand bluff, a few hundred feet tall (yes, I had to climb it.) Anyway– this has produced a REAL beach in Anchorage– no mud flats, actual beachcombing (although do not expect seaweed or shells– I am guessing that the Cook Inlet’s tides and climate just do not allow them– because I never see them here like I do in Prince William Sound).

    To access this beach– and I guess a lot of teens do on hot summer days, go down the big hill from the chalet until the trail levels off and turns right at the lower bluff to begin following the coast. Here, at the turn, is a bench– you will see a foot path going off into the woods and one going down the bluff– ignore the latter (it leads to the beach but only through some grass lands and safe mud flats) and follow the former– it parallels the low bluff until you approach the tall bluff– here you will see the beach– proceed down the steep trail to the waters edge– you have over a mile of pure Puget Sound beach, with new views and even waves. Who ever said we only have mudflats?

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