I love hiking in Girdwood. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t for the proximity to my favorite honey fireweed ice cream and some of the best deep dish pizza you can find on the west coast. I’ll get to that later.
From glaciers to picturesque waterfalls, the hiking trails in Girdwood offer a lot of variety. This little ski town is just surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush forests.
In this post, I’m going to share the 5 best hikes in Girdwood, Alaska, and directions on how to get to each one. You’ll also find my favorite places to eat in Girdwood near the bottom.
How to get to Girdwood from Anchorage:
Girdwood is located 39 miles south of Anchorage. It usually takes around 45 minutes to drive there. Follow the Seward Highway south along the Turnagain Arm and exit left on Alyeska Highway towards Girdwood.
5 Best Hikes in Girdwood
1. The North Face, Alyeska
Distance: 2.2 miles one-way
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 2,000+ feet
The North Face trail up Mt. Alyeska is a local favorite. Nothing beats hiking up a 2,300-foot mountain to a bar… I mean, restaurant, and then getting a free tram ride back down. Yes, please! Don’t forget to bring your I.D.
The North Face Trail is a challenging trail due to its steepness. The very first bit of the trail is flat but soon enough you will start climbing switchbacks and it continues the rest of the way. You’ll definitely feel the burn.
Once you make it to the top, enjoy a beer or a glass of wine at Seven Glaciers. After, you can either hike further up Mount Alyeska or take the tram down the mountain.
How to get to the North Face Trail:
Follow the Alyeska Highway until you get to the T-intersection. Take a left onto Arlberg Ave and you will find Alyeska Resort at the end of the road. Access to the North Face Trail can be found behind Alyeska Resort. You can park for free in the hotel daytime parking lot.
2. Winner Creek Trail
Distance: 6.4 miles
Time: 3 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,204 feet
NOTE: The Winner Creek Tram is closed for 2020 season.
Winner Creek Trail is the most popular trail in Girdwood because most people are looking to pull themselves across Glacier Creek using the unique Winner Creek tram (closed for 2020 season). It’s a fun and exciting experience to hang above the creek in a small metal crate. It can be hard to pull yourself across so make sure you have enough combined strength.
The Winner Creek Trail follows a wooden boardwalk through a spruce and hemlock forest and leads you to a gorge with a picturesque series of small waterfalls and cascades. There is a small wooden bridge that gives you views directly above the gorge and is a fun spot to take photos. You can find the hand tram another five minutes down the trail.
How to get to Winner Creek Trail:
Follow the Alyeska Highway until you get to the T-intersection. Take a left onto Arlberg Ave and you will find Alyeska Resort at the end of the road. Access to Winner Creek Trail can be found behind the tram building at Alyeska Resort. You can park for free in the hotel daytime parking lot.
Read more: What to wear hiking in Alaska
3. Upper Winner Creek to Berry Pass
Distance: 14 miles
Time: 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,070 feet
This hike from Upper Winner Creek to Berry Pass starts from the same Winner Creek Trail behind the tram at Alyeska Resort. This trail gradually ascends through spruce and hemlock forest. About 1.7 miles on the trail, you’ll reach a T-intersection. Here, you will turn right for Upper Winner Creek Trail.
Upper Winner Creek has a few stream crossings and one of them is quite large. You may even have to cross large avalanche runouts depending on the time of year. Once you reach the pass you will be rewarded with incredible views of Berry Pass. A lot of people will hike down to Twentymile River and packraft all the way out. Keep an eye out for bears and berries in this area!
How to get to Berry Pass:
Follow the Alyeska Highway until you get to the T-intersection. Take a left onto Arlberg Ave and you will find the Alyeska Resort at the end of the road. The trail to Berry Pass starts from the Winner Creek Trail. Access to Winner Creek Trail can be found behind the tram building at Alyeska Resort. You can park for free in the hotel daytime parking lot.
4. Crow Pass Trail
Distance: 23.1 miles
Time: 12 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
Crow Pass Trail is one of the most scenic and diverse trails in the Chugach Mountains. I’ve hiked this trail with a large group of friends and it was so much fun! Crow Pass is best hiked from Girdwood to Eagle River because after the initial climb, it’s basically all downhill from there.
If you’re looking for a Girdwood glacier hike, you’ll find that Raven Glacier sits at the top of the pass. Besides glaciers, Crow Pass Trail has river crossing, rope and ladder obstacles, incredible valley views, and so much more. This hike is a great overnight trip but if you do it in one day make sure to plan for a minimum of 12 hours.
How to get to Crow Pass Trail:
From the Alyeska Highway, turn left onto Crow Creek Road. Crow Creek Road turns slightly left and becomes Pack Trail. You will find parking for Crow Pass Trail at the end of the road.
Read more: 5 Glacier Hikes Near Anchorage
5. Virgin Creek Falls
Distance: 0.4 miles
Time: 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 101 feet
Difficulty: Very Easy
Virgin Creek Falls is seriously one of the easiest hikes ever and it offers the biggest reward.
The waterfall is magical and walking through the forest will actually make you feel like you’re walking amongst fairies.
The last section to get down to the waterfall is steep so be careful! You can still see the falls from the main trail if you can’t make it down.
How to get to Virgin Creek Falls:
From the Alyeska Highway, turn right onto Timberline Drive and drive to the end of the road. You will find a sign for Virgin Creek Falls. Park in the designated area.
More Girdwood Hikes
If you’ve already bagged the hikes that I listed above, some lesser-known trails in Girdwood that you can hike are Penguin Ridge, Max’s Trail, and Chutes and Ladders.
You can also check out a Girdwood Summer Trail Map here.
Where to Eat in Girdwood
- Double Musky Inn – Really good cajun cooking. They don’t accept reservations so be there at opening hours.
- Chair 5 – The best deep dish pizza. The Cadillac is my favorite.
- Jack Sprat – I like to eat here for brunch but the menu offers a lot of tasty goodness.
- Sakura Asian Bistro – Sushi always sounds so good after hiking. Located in the Alyeska Hotel.
- The Ice Cream Shop – Try the fireweed honey or the wild blueberry. Then try it as a malt.
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Do you have any questions about these awesome hikes in Girdwood? Leave them in comments.