Hanging Valley Lake is a hidden hiking trail in Eagle River, Alaska. The trail will lead you through a valley to an alpine lake that hangs in a bowl surrounded by the stunning Chugach Mountains.
This hike can be accessed from the South Fork Eagle River Trail, which is located 30 minutes north of Anchorage. Due to the close proximity to Anchorage, this 10-mile roundtrip trail makes an awesome day hike.
The South Fork Eagle River Trail is best used from May to October, but it always comes down to snow conditions. The photos that I share in this post were taken during the month of September.
In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Hanging Valley Lake in Eagle River, Alaska.
Hike Hanging Valley Lake in Eagle River
Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 10 miles roundtrip
Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,700 feet
Get the DNR trail map here.
- Bring $5 for daily parking fee
- Arrive early to secure a parking spot, especially during summer weekends
- Pets must be on leash in trailhead parking lot & under control on trails and in the backcountry
- Carry bear spray
- Prepare for wet and muddy conditions
How to get to Hanging Valley Lake Trail
- From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
- Exit the highway at E Eagle River Loop Rd.
- Take the first right at Hiland Rd.
- Follow Hiland Rd. and turn right on South Creek Road
- Take another right on West Creek Drive
- The parking area for the trailhead will be on your left
Hanging Valley Lake Trailhead
The Hanging Valley Lake trailhead can be found in Eagle River. You can access the trail from the South Fork Valley Trail, which is the same trailhead as the Eagle and Symphony Lakes Trail. Since it’s a popular trail, parking is very limited.
It’s best to arrive earlier in the day to secure a parking spot and avoid parking along the road. The daily parking fee here is $5 and there are public toilets available to use.
Read more: 5 Best Hikes in Eagle River
South Fork Valley Trail
The first part of the trail follows the South Fork Valley Trail. You’ll start the hike bymaking your way through the evergreen trees as you climb up the valley.
As the trail flattens out along the right side of the valley, you’ll pass connecting trails to Hunter Pass and Rendezvous Ridge.
Crossing South Fork Eagle River
After about 1.8 miles, you will start to drop down into the valley before crossing a wooden bridge over South Fork Eagle River.
At mile 2.7, you will need to take the fork in the trail and head left onto the Hanging Valley Trail. The trail is small and not marked, so keep an eye out!
Hanging Valley Trail
There is a short climb to get to Hanging Valley from the South Fork Valley. The first bit takes you through some birch and spruce trees.
Once you make it past the trees, it becomes very open and the valley is beautiful. There is a gradual increase in elevation as you follow the trail through the valley.
As you follow the dirt trail along the right side of the valley, you’ll make your way towards the bowl above the right side of the valley.
Eventually, you’ll hike around a smaller lake that sits on the valley floor. It usually makes a beautiful reflection to photograph.
At 4.8 miles, you will need to continue climbing towards the right. There is a split on the trail and it can be easy to miss. Keep in mind that you’re making your way to the first bowl on the right side of the valley.
If you miss the split, you’ll continue towards the end of the valley and closer to the waterfall on the left side of the valley.
Hanging Valley Lake
After climbing another 0.2 miles, you’ll reach the edge of Hanging Valley Lake. There is a creek that flows from the alpine lake down into the valley. It’s such a beautiful area!
At a total distance of 10 miles roundtrip, it’ll take you about four hours to hike this out-and-back trail in Eagle River.
Beyond Hanging Valley Lakes
This area of Eagle River connects to many other hiking trails including Eagle and Symphony Lakes, Hunter Pass, Cantana Peak, Eagle Peak, Hurdygurdy Mountain, Flute Glacier, Triangle Peak, and Rendezvous Ridge.
Camping is permitted over ½ mile from the trailhead and open fires are prohibited, except in portable camp stoves.
You’ll find plenty of areas around the lake that make a great place to camp for the night.
Hike Eagle and Symphony Lakes in Eagle River
Hike Barbara Falls in Eagle River
Hike Harp Mountain in Eagle River
Pin For Later
Do you have any questions on hiking Hanging Valley Lake in Eagle River? Let me know in the comments.