Strikes against it– It’s basically level, so no challenge. The forest is thick, so unless you really love that kind scenery it gets old. At the resort end it’s all disgustingly “Disney-fied” for the tourists.
On the other hand, the hand-tram and the foot bridge over 2 gorges at the mine end are really, really cool. In particular, I could stare at the gorge from the foot bridge all day long.
On balance, it nets out to a 3. Honestly, if you start from the mine (Crow Creek Mine on Crow Creek Road in Girdwood), go to the bridge and then just head back without doing any of the rest of the trail, you’ve gotten probably 80% of the value of the hike.
One nice thing to think about– tourists pay $85 a piece to take a “guided hike” along this trail, so take the money you saved and splurge at REI.
For those who enjoy a nice rainforest hike it is beautiful. It is also different from most of the other hikes in the Chugach in that it is fairly level, which is appealing to those who dislike too much elevation.
Go south on Seward Highway from Anchorage to Girdwood (~40mi). Turn left on Alyeska Highway at the Tesoro.
To start from the mine end:
A couple miles in, turn left on Crow Creek Rd. 2 options follow:
Parking at the mine and running a small risk of being towed: about 3 miles up the road is the driveway for Crow Creek Mine. You can park in at the bottom of this driveway, though I think there’s some small risk of being towed. The trail is on the east side of the driveway a couple hundred feet before the parking area. From this trailhead, go left at the T-intersection ~1/4 mile in.
Parking at the hard-to-identify pullout with no risk of being towed: there is a pullout on the north side of Crow Creek Road about a half mile or so before the mine driveway with a trail leading out the east side. This trail joins the main trail after about a half mile. It’s miserable if there’s been rain recently. From this trailhead, go straight, ignoring the well-traveled left-hand turn ~1/2 mile in, as it only takes you to the mine parking area.
To start from the resort:
Take Alyeska Highway ~5mi to the T-intersection at the base of the ski hill. Go left and follow it all the way around to the resort. Keep going to another T-intersection. Go left again to the resort parking area. Park here, with no danger of being towed. Walk back up toward the tram terminal at the resort. Walk past the tram terminal as if you’re going to walk up the mountain, and almost immediately you’ll see the trailhead well marked to the left. If you have any trouble, any resort staff will help you. ~1.5 miles in is a T-intersection. To continue on the main trail, go left.
The Alyeska resort is a great place to hang out and have a drink after the hike. The bakery down the hill is a worthwhile stop as well. Other great choices for a drink in town are Chair 5 and Maxines.