The first time I went to hike Lion Head Mountain in Alaska, I saw a guy with his perfectly pitched tent and the extraordinary views of Matanuska Glacier in the backdrop.
My mind started to think of all of the possibilities.
I started to imagine waking up to 360-degree views, surrounded by the Talkeetna Mountains, Matanuska Glacier, and Caribou Creek.
So, I went back. But this time, I brought a tent.
I was lucky to witness a beautiful sunset that evening, but when I woke up in the morning and opened my tent fly, I was socked in. I was surrounded by fog. I couldn’t see the sunrise.
So, I went back…again. And again.
I love hiking Lion’s Head so much. The trail is short and sweet and the view is always so rewarding. It is easily one of my favorite places to overnight camp in Alaska.
In this guide, I’m going to share everything you need to know to hike Lion’s Head trail in Alaska.
Planning a trip to Alaska? Start with my Alaska Travel Guide.
Hike Lion Head Mountain in Alaska
Traditional Land: Ahtna (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 2.1 miles
Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 990 feet
- Don’t leave valuables in your car (or leave them out of sight)
- Call the AT&T number on the gate before passing the gate to check-in
- Make sure to call the AT&T number again when you leave to check-out
- Bring a tent for amazing camping views
- Pack insect repellant and bear spray
- Don’t hike with small children
When is the Best Time to Hike Lion Head Mountain?
The best time of the year to hike Lion’s Head is May to August. But honestly, it really depends on the weather. If the snow is melted or hasn’t arrived yet, then it may be a good time to hike it.
The trail isn’t well maintained and in some areas it’s steep, rough, and overgrown. You wouldn’t want to hike this trail if it’s wet, muddy, or icy. The conditions may also be super windy or foggy as you near the top of the mountain.
How to Get to Lion’s Head Trail From Anchorage
Lion Head Mountain is located in Glacier View, Alaska at Mile 106. As you drive north along the Glenn Highway, you will see an AT&T Tower at Mile 106. It’s a two-hour drive from Anchorage.
- From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
- Exit towards Palmer/Glennallen
- Follow until you see the AT&T Tower at Mile 106
- The parking lot is on your right
After taking a sharp right into the parking area, you will drive down a gravel road and find a place to park. Make sure to hide your valuables out of sight!
Looking for glaciers to visit in Alaska? Read The Ultimate Glacier Road Trip.
Call AT&T to Access Private Property
When you reach the end of the road, you will notice there is a gate blocking the entrance to the trail. On the gate you will find a sign that gives you a number to call at AT&T. You MUST call this number in order to cross the gate onto the private property.
The cell service is great and you won’t have any difficulties calling. The AT&T rep is always super friendly and they only want to ask you a few questions like, your name, how long you plan to be on the property and to call them back before leaving. Make sure to call and check out when you leave the property!
Follow the Road to Lion Head Trail
After you call AT&T, you can now cross the gate. You will walk up the gravel road for a few minutes until you see buildings.
Please respect the private property and don’t trespass into the buildings.
The road splits here and you will continue to the right and start walking towards Lion Head. The beginning of the trail is marked with a small rock cairn.
Through the Trees and Boulders
I’m not going to lie, it’s really easy to lose the trail when you’re hiking up or down. The trail is not well marked and I’ve gone the wrong way a few times myself. But then again, what way is right anyway?
The trail starts through the trees before you will start to gradually climb up the mountain. The route I typically goes up across the boulders and brings you up and around the right.
There are a lot of steep sections as you make your way up the mountain, but there are plenty of trees to grab to help pull yourself up.
As your winding your way up the mountain, keep an eye out for fresh berries to pick. Yum!
It’s also a good idea to bring a pair of hiking poles. Hiking poles are helpful to have on the way down and they’re good for your knees.
Views From The Top of Lion’s Head
As you near the top of the mountain, you will head north to continue along the ridge. Once you reach the very top, you will be rewarded with stunning views of the Talkeetna Mountains, Matanuska Glacier, and Caribou Creek.
The hike to the top of Lion’s Head should only take you around 45 minutes to an hour. It’s a great hike to enjoy the sunset. So, crack a bottle, take a seat, and enjoy the stunning glacial views!
As you explore the top of the mountain, you will notice that you are partially surrounded by sheer cliffs. This is why it’s better not to bring small children with you on this hike. It can be extremely dangerous.
Camping On Lion Head Mountain
Most of the time I hike Lion’s Head with the intention to camp on top. The views of Matanuska Glacier are just hard to beat.
Finding a good place to pitch your tent can be a little tricky. Lion’s Head is basically a rocky outcrop so you’re going to have difficulty staking your tent down. This is on top of finding a flat, comfortable area.
However, if you look hard enough, there are a few areas that have soft ground and will be able to support a pitched tent. You can reference some of my photos for ideas.
It’s also possible to pitch your tent a little further down the mountain but the views just aren’t the same.
Every time I’ve camped here, it’s always been a pleasant experience. But there are a few things you may want to think about like, bugs, bears, wind, and fog.
There are bears in this area. Although, I’ve never seen one during any of my trips. It’s important to always be bear aware and bring bear spray.
Like anywhere else in Alaska, the weather conditions can change fast. Be prepared for wind at the top since it is so exposed.
Also, be prepared to wake up surrounded by fog. I’ve never witnessed a sunrise here so I would only recommend this hike for sunset.
And, If you were wondering where this place gets its name from… Well, when you’re heading west along the Glenn Highway you will see that the mountain actually looks like a lion’s head. The more you know!
Happy hiking. And don’t forget to call AT&T when you leave!
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