7 Great Beginner-to-Moderate Trails in the Mat-Su Valley to Hike This Weekend

Jim Latham

Alltrails links for more info provided for each trail

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Summer is a great time to get out into Alaska. Here is a list of easy to moderate trails to get you started hiking in the Mat-Su Valley.

This is just a tiny sampling of what is out there designed to get you started.

These hikes are relatively close together, so do a couple a day.

Links to Alltrails profiles are provided for each hike.

1 - Wasilla Creek Trail (0.8 miles, low difficulty): A mostly flat/gently sloping boardwalk trail that offers views of the hay flats and mountains at the end. Boards gets slick when it’s wet out. A good trail for youngsters. (Alltrails Link)

2 - West Butte Trail (2.3 miles, moderate difficulty): Trail is a mix of wide gravel path at the bottom with sets of stairs—515 of them in total!—and some natural dirt footing near the top. Great views of mountains and glaciers from the top and plenty of rocks to sit on to enjoy a snack. This trail can be crowded at peak times, but making way for others gives you an excuse to catch your breath on the stairs. (Alltrails Link)

3 - Gold Cord Lake (1.5 miles, moderate difficulty): Located in Hatcher Pass, this trail is relatively straightforward until you reach the boulder field. That said, the trail is relatively well maintained with some switchbacks. An old cabin is located near the trail and the lake at the top is gorgeous. (Alltrails Link)

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4 - Reflections Lake (1.1 miles, low difficulty): A flat and easy trail around reflections lake with good access from the Glenn Highway. There are two slight hills on the loop and a tower that provides a viewpoint. Small loops allow you to avoid the hills and rejoin the trail. A good trail for youngsters. (Alltrails Link)

5 - April Bowl (2.2 miles, moderate difficulty): Located in Hatcher Pass, this trial rewards those who persevere along the consistent incline with beautiful views of mountain peaks and glacial lakes. (Alltrails Link)

6 - Marmot Mountain (2.6 miles, moderate difficulty): Time it right and you will be rewarded with abundant wildflower blooms along with great views. Steep trail can be slick when wet. Careful on the way down. (Alltrails Link)

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7 - Thunderbird Falls (1.8 miles, low difficulty): This trail is a nice, easy walk along the Eklutna River to Thunderbird Falls with boardwalks, viewpoints, and handrails provided. The Creekside trail allows you to walk up the creek to the base of the falls. A good one for youngsters. (Alltrails Link)

Hiking Safety Tips:

  • Hike in a group.
  • Know the route before you set out. Screenshot the map in case you lose cell signal.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Bring adequate water and food.
  • Carry bear protection and know how to use it safely.
  • Bring layers of clothing and rain gear. Wet cotton doesn’t insulate—consider wool or synthetics that will keep you warm if you get rained on.

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