5 Easy Waterfall Hikes Near Anchorage, Alaska

Looking for easy waterfall hikes near Anchorage? From Eagle River to Whittier, there are so many beautiful waterfalls to visit within an hour from town.

From waterfalls that cascade over 200-feet to waterfalls hidden off the side of the road, each waterfall is unique! I love visiting waterfalls in different seasons because you can witness rushing water during the fall after it has rained or frozen waterfalls during winter.

In this post, I’m going to share beginner-friendly waterfall hiking trails and directions on how to get to each one.

5 Easy Waterfall Hikes Near Anchorage

Traditional Land: Dena’ina; (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)


1. South Fork Falls (Barbara Falls)

Location: Eagle River
Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 101 feet
Difficulty: Very Easy

Tucked away in Eagle River, Barbara Falls (also known as South fork Falls) is a super short and easy waterfall hike with two views of the waterfalls. You can see it from above or close up. This easy trail has an upper and lower viewpoint that makes for a great adventure with the kiddos or pups. If you hike Barbara Falls in the winter, you can expect a frozen waterfall.

Read the full trail guide: Hike Barbara Falls in Eagle River

How to get to Barbara Falls Trail From Anchorage:

From Anchorage, head North on the Glenn Highway. Exit the highway at E Eagle River Loop Rd. Take the first right at Hiland Rd. Turn left at River View Dr. Turn left at Waterfall Dr. Turn right on River Park Dr. Turn left on Ken Logan Cir.

Hike barbara fallshike barbara falls

2. Thunderbird Falls

Location: Chugiak
Distance: 1.28 miles roundtrip
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 100 feet
Difficulty: Easy

Thunderbird Falls is an easy waterfall hike in Chugiak, Alaska, which is about a 30-minute drive north of Anchorage. At only 1.28 miles roundtrip, this out-and-back, family-friendly hike is a great stop for anyone who needs to stretch their legs, or wants to see one of Alaska’s amazing waterfalls. The viewing platform will give you views of the 200-foot waterfall. I also recommend taking the creek trail to get a closer up to the falls. This will add another 1/2 mile to your hike.

Related: Hike Thunderbird Falls in Chugiak, Alaska

How to get to Thunderbird Falls Trail From Anchorage:

From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway. Take the exit towards Thunderbird Falls. Continue right onto the Old Glenn Highway.

family friendly waterfall hiking trail near anchorage alaska

3. Virgin Creek Falls

Location: Girdwood
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. It’s a magical waterfall to visit in summer and winter! 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.

Related: 5 Best Hikes in Girdwood, Alaska

How to get to Virgin Creek Falls From Anchorage:

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.

easy waterfall hikes near anchorage Virgin Creek Falls Hike in Girdwood Alaska

4. Second Salmon Run Falls

Location: Whittier
Distance: 0.5 miles roundtrip
Time: 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

You can find the Second Salmon Run Waterfall on your way to Shotgun Cove in Whittier. This trail follows the creek to the right underneath the bridge. It gets really muddy and you’ll have to do a bit of down-climbing to reach the base of the falls.

How to get to Second Salmon Run From Anchorage:

From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway to Whittier. In Whittier, turn right onto  Whittier Street and continue onto Blackstone Road. Turn right onto Shotgun Cove and continue almost until the end of the road. You’ll see a sign above the Second Salon Run on your right.

easy waterfall hikes near anchorage second salmon run waterfall whittier alaska

5. McHugh Creek Falls

Location: Turnagain Arm
Distance: 1 mile roundtrip
Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 50 feet
Difficulty: Easy

McHugh Creek Falls can be found south of Anchorage along the Turnagain Arm. From the McHugh Creek Recreation Area parking lot, you can see a huge waterfall off to the right. If you continue walking along the McHugh Trail that parallels McHugh Creek, you will hike through aspen and cottonwood trees and eventually cross over a wooden bridge. This is a great place to stop and photography the waterfall.

How to get to McHugh Creek Falls From Anchorage:

From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway for about 15 miles. Turn left onto McHugh Creek Recreation Area Road.

Mchugh creek falls hiking trail turnagain arm alaska

Happy hiking!



Read More

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Alaska is surrounded by waterfalls but some of them are hidden and require hiking to them. I'm sharing some easy family-friendly waterfall hikes near Anchorage. These waterfalls can be found in Eagle River, Whittier, Girdwood, Chugiak, and along the Turnagain Arm. A perfect day trip from Anchorage and a great adventure for everyone. #hiking #alaskatravel #alaska #anchorage

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