Fall: Blink and you’ll miss it

by • October 25, 2017 • 61 North, HighlightsComments (0)4

Local hikes provide ideal way to enjoy the last of the season

Autumn. Famously described by William Cullen Bryant in “Indian Summer” as the “year’s last, loveliest smile,” is short-lived here in The Last Frontier. Before we know it, the last big wind of the season will blow away the leaves and ring in the fun of winter. But, before it’s too late, take some time to get out take in the crisp air. Whether you go with the family, or opt for a solo hike, you won’t regret getting out to see the short, lovely Alaska fall.

Sarah Zerkel takes in the crisp autumn morning air on a hike in Anchorage.
COURTESY SARAH ZERKEL

In need of some inspiration? Not to worry, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites. The best part—they’re all easily accessible from Anchorage. For those of you outside the area, make sure to put these on your list when heading to southcentral Alaska this autumn.

 

Wolverine Peak:
Anchorage Hillside

Book plenty of time for this hike—typically a 4-5 hour round trip. On especially rainy fall weekends, you’ll likely be taking one step forward and sliding two steps back on slick mud. But hey, it’s amazing exercise and makes a hot shower afterward that much more rewarding.

 

Devil’s Pass to Resurrection Pass Thru Hike: Seward Highway

Sure you’ll be racing dusk to hit that Devil’s Pass cabin but that’s part of the fun. Prepare to book a full day with an overnight for this one, which begins at Devil’s Creek Pull off (just after Mile 40 of the Seward Highway) and follows the pass until veering left toward the Resurrection Pass Trailhead in Cooper Landing for a total of 27 miles. And, without locals and tourists vying for every public-use cabin, you’re much more likely to book one for yourself.

 

Rabbit Lake: Anchorage Hillside

Sunburn, mosquito clouds, other hikers cramping your solo style—who needs ’em? Hit Rabbit Lake in the fall. It’s all the things you love about hiking minus a few things you don’t. And, unlike many Alaska hikes, this one stays in the treeline for a long portion of the trail, giving you plenty of time to enjoy the colors. Dress warm though; even in the summer months this trail is a notorious wind tunnel.

 

Northwest Ridge of McHugh Peak: Bear Valley

Just a hop, skip and a jump east of Rabbit Lake is the Northwest Ridge route of McHugh Peak. Not as arduous a climb as the South Flank route, this ridge offers up views of Turnagain Arm and is accessed through Bear Valley. The best news? Going in fall means the sparse parking (four marked spots total) at the trailhead is more likely to be open.

Maybe it’s the smell, maybe it’s the solitude, maybe I just really like bundling up in a different scarf every day. Whatever it is, I can’t deny, plugging in to some soothing music and hiking sans companions on a tree-laden trail is one of my great joys in life. Fall may be a shoulder season, but I daresay, it’s the loveliest.

 

 

 

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