Cross country skiing is popular in Anchorage. Girdwood, which is less than an hour south of Anchorage, features Alyeska, the state's largest ski resort. There are also in town trails at Chugagh State Park, Kincaid Park and Turnagain Pass.
Equipment: Ski equipment rentals are available in downtown Anchorage.
The Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race begins in Anchorage in March. Teams of dogs and mushers travel over 1,000 miles to Nome. Every year, these teams compete to finish the race in the fastest amount of time.
There are about 6 miles of groomed Nordic ski trails in East Anchorage in Russian Jack Springs Park (accessed off Debarr Road). The trails are lighted, making skiing a good activity day or evening. This park was may favorite place to ski in Anchorage.
The trail system at Russian Jack hooks up to the trails at Alaska Pacific University and beyond making for all day skiing around Anchorage if you'd like. You can ski all day with only the moose and a few other skiers as company. You’ll be surprised at how much wooded areas are in Anchorage once you are out on the trails. The day I took this picture I had to be quite bundled up because it was well below zero degrees Fahrenheit.
I went to a historical presentation one time about how Russian Jack was a bootlegger who brewed moonshine in his still out at the springs when Anchorage was a young town and alcohol was prohibited.
Equipment: A map... You can get one ahead of time through the mail or buy one in Anchorage.
Big Lake is a litle over an hour from Anchorage on the Glenn and then Parks Highways. Big Lake is a popular camping, boating, swimming, driving around on the ice in the winter (don't sink your new truck), etc... spot for a weekend getaway from Anchorage.
Here I am standing around in the dust at Big Lake, AK on Memorial Day in 2002. This is my sister-in-law Jennifer's F150. Or should I saw... was... Unfortunately, shortly after taking this camping trip the truck was sold. Jennifer says her next truck will have a lift kit and monster tires so she'll be able to do some serious 4X4.
Going 4X4 is popular amongst the locals. There are a variety of roads that can't be accessed without four-wheel drive.
Equipment: Not such an easy activity to participate in for tourists unless you bring your vehicle with you via the Alaska Highway because most car rental companies make you promise not to take their vehicles onto roads like this.
A few miles north of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway you can find a little off-shoot road that will bring you up Arctic Valley. There is a hill that the locals love to sled down.
You need a car, a designated driver, and a handful of friends to go sledding with. You get dropped off at the top of the sledding hill and zoom down several miles of fun and bumpy trail to the bottom. The car picks you up and you start all over again.
This picture of Mount Susitna was taken from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in downtown Anchorage in the spring. All the dark shapes in Knik Arm of the Cook Inlet are icebergs. The picture was taken during spring breakup in the mid to late 1990's. Mt. Susitna is the most prominent mountain that can be seen from Anchorage, the largest city in Alaska. If you'd like to know the story behind Mt. Susitna, you can read more about a book called The Sleeping Lady at my Alaskana Book Nook page. I have always connected with stories like these that involve looking for hidden meaning in nature and the things I see. The story of Susitna and her love Nekatla is a beautiful story about love, and war, and the turmoil the later causes. I believe we really can learn these things by looking at the mountains because they do withstand the test of time.
Equipment: Depends on the time of year that you visit and the activity that you want to do. In the winter the trail is groomed for cross-country skiing. The rest of the year the bike trail is a wonderful place to walk, run, roller-blade or bike along the Cook Inlet. At any given time you will see a variety of people using the trail for fun and exercise.
These secuity forces from the 2003 Arctic Thunder Air Show. These boys were charge with crowd control and garbage duties. I wonder how they felt watching the pilots soar above the crowds?
Equipment: Truck, beverages, sunscreen
Driving along the Seward highway, there are many chances to pull over and park alongside a trailhead leading into the Chugach Range. Trails are clearly marked and expect to meet many locals out enjoying nature!
The Iditarod sled dog race begins in the City of Anchorage with Mushers racing past crowds of well-wishers. The year 2003 did not deposit much snow in the state of Alaska, so the town had to "make" a trail of snow for the sleds to leave the city on. So for the first itme ever, instead of Anchorage to Nome, in 2003 the race will "re-start" in Fairbanks, and race to Nome.
A race to celebrate the famous serum run, that saved many lives in Nome. A must see event for sports enthusiasts.
Equipment: Dog sled, dog team, rations, emergency supplies, warm clothing, and a strong sense of adventure.
I loved the exhilaration of Ice-Climbing and the sheer fun of Kayaking.
The absolute fun of hiking in the country.
Equipment: Warm clothes, water proof also.
"They will have the rest of the equipment you need"
THis is a 1,400 acre park dedicated to cross country skiing. There are trails for all levels of sking, and they are illuminated during the winter.
On the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (or bike path) you can find nesting waterfowl in the spring and summer.
Besides several playgrounds with fun equipment along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, there are a lot of cool tunnels that kids love howling to here the echo as they pass through.