Paws on the Path: Alaska’s Best Dog-Friendly Hikes Revealed!

Alaska, with its breathtaking landscapes and pristine wilderness, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. And what could be better than exploring this rugged terrain with your loyal four-legged companion? In this guide, we’re going to reveal some of Alaska’s best dog-friendly hikes that both you and your furry friend will absolutely love.

Reed Lakes Trail

Location: Hatcher Pass, Talkeetna Mountains, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 9 miles (round trip) to Upper Reed Lake

Estimated Hiking Time: 4 to 6 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: The first 1.5 miles are easy; the remainder is moderate

Elevation Gain: Approximately 2,600 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: Late May to early October

Trailhead Location: Reed Lakes Trailhead, Hatcher Pass (there may be a $5 parking fee)

Trail Description: The Reed Lakes Trail is a scenic out-and-back hike in the picturesque Hatcher Pass region of Alaska. This trail is a stunning day hike. Starting in a relatively flat valley, the first mile and a half is a pretty easy stroll. After that the trail switchbacks up, passing a waterfall on Reed Creek. Before entering the upper valley, some mild “boulder-hopping” is required. After you finish hopping boulders, you will find yourself in a stunning alpine glen that follows the creek. Continue on to find two beautiful aquamarine lakes with a lovely waterfall in between them.

  1. Lower Reed Lake: The trail begins its ascent from the trailhead, passing through dense forests and following Reed Creek. After a few miles, you’ll arrive at Lower Reed Lake, a serene alpine lake nestled amidst the mountains. Take in the beauty of this lower lake before continuing your journey.
  2. Upper Reed Lake: Beyond Lower Reed Lake, the trail climbs a little further, offering great views of the surrounding peaks. Upper Reed Lake is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and stunning wilderness. This pristine alpine lake is the perfect spot for a rest, a snack, or a well-deserved picnic.

The Reed Lakes Trail in Hatcher Pass promises an unforgettable outdoor adventure in Alaska’s rugged wilderness. With its mix of natural beauty, diverse terrain, and challenging yet rewarding hiking, this trail is perfect for those seeking a quintessential Alaskan experience. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a nature enthusiast, the Reed Lakes Trail offers a chance to immerse yourself in the stunning landscape of the Talkeetna Mountains.

Trail Guide:

Lost Lake Trail

Location: Near Seward, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 15 miles (round trip)

Estimated Hiking Time: 5 to 7 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Elevation Gain: Approximately 1800 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: Okay year round, but the trail is more difficult with snow on the trail. Snow possible at higher elevations (above mile 4) into mid-July

Trailhead Location: Lost Lake Trailhead, accessible via Lost Lake Road

Trail Description: The Lost Lake Trail, located near the charming town of Seward, is a stunning out-and-back hike that winds through the scenic Chugach National Forest. This moderate hike offers a variety of landscapes, from dense forests to open meadows, leading to the pristine Lost Lake. Hikers of varying skill levels can enjoy this trail, which offers an escape into the Alaskan wilderness.

This trail travels through spruce and hemlock forests until the timberline ends around mile 5 and you enter high country alpine.

The trail’s endpoint, Lost Lake, is a tranquil alpine lake surrounded by snow-capped peaks and pristine wilderness. The serene setting is perfect for picnics, swimming (for the brave in chilly waters), and photography. You might even spot wildlife around the lake.

The Lost Lake Trail near Seward, Alaska, is a memorable hiking experience that immerses you in the natural beauty of the Chugach National Forest. With its diverse landscapes, opportunities for wildlife encounters, and the serene Lost Lake as your destination, this hike is a must-do for anyone looking to explore the stunning wilderness of Alaska’s southern coast. This trail is an amazing option near Seward, especially for those with dogs as my personal favorite hike near Seward, the Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park, is not open to dogs.

Trail Guide:

Crow Pass Trail to Raven Glacier

Location: Chugach National Forest, Girdwood, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 8.0 miles (round-trip)

Estimated Hiking Time: 4 to 5 hours (round-trip)

Difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Elevation Gain: Approximately 2,000 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back. (This trail can be done as a point-to-point hike, but the numbers above are for an out and back from Crow Creek Trailhead).

Best Time to Hike: Late June to early September (weather-dependent)

Trailheads: Crow Creek Trailhead (Girdwood)

Trail Description: The Crow Pass Trail to Raven Glacier is an iconic Alaskan hike that leads you through the rugged and breathtaking landscapes of the Chugach Mountains. This moderately strenuous trail is often started from Girdwood and hiked as an out-and-back hike with Raven Glacier as the endpoint. However, if you desire, you could continue and hike all the way to Raven Creek Trailhead at the Eagle River Nature Center. The two trailheads are 23 miles apart. Either way, this trail offers panoramic views, river crossings, and the chance to see the stunning Raven Glacier.

  1. Crow Pass Cabin: Starting from the Crow Creek Trailhead in Girdwood, you’ll hike through lush forests and meadows and then into alpine tundra. After approximately 3.5 miles, you’ll reach Crow Pass Cabin. Crow Pass cabin is available for rent for up to 7 days from June through September. The cabin is closed in the winter due to avalanche hazards along the trail.
  2. Crystal Lake: Continuing along the trail, you’ll encounter Crystal Lake, a picturesque mountain lake surrounded by wildflowers in early summer. It’s an ideal spot for a rest and a snack.
  3. Raven Glacier: The highlight of this hike is undoubtedly reaching the massive Raven Glacier, about 3.9 miles from the trailhead. As you approach the glacier, you’ll be in awe of its sheer size and beauty.

Be aware that the trail does split on the way up and one trail route option passes through some mining ruins. It is recommended to avoid sitting, camping, eating, digging in, or allowing children to play on or near the mills. In order to avoid contaminated sites, travel the “high route” along Crow Pass Trail rather than the Moarch Mine Spur Trail. If you’re hiking with a dog, I highly recommend avoiding the mine spur trail.

Trail Guide:

Bird Ridge Trail

Location: Chugach State Park, Turnigain Arm, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 5miles (round-trip)

Estimated Hiking Time: 4 to 6 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: Strenuous/Difficult

Elevation Gain: Approximately 3,400 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: June to September (weather-dependent), this is one of the first snow-free trails in the park due to the southern exposure

Trailhead: Bird Ridge Trailhead, Chugach State Park ($5 parking fee)

Trail Description: The Bird Ridge Trail is a challenging yet rewarding hike located in Chugach State Park, offering spectacular panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the Chugach Mountains, and even glimpses of the distant Alaska Range. This trail is a popular choice for local hikers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a rigorous day hike.

Key Highlights:

  1. Steep Ascent: The trail starts with a steep and continuous ascent through lush forests and alpine meadows. As you climb, you’ll gain elevation quickly, so be prepared for a challenging uphill climb.
  2. Scenic Overlooks: Along the trail, there are several designated viewpoints that provide stunning vistas of the surrounding landscape. These are excellent spots to catch your breath and take in the breathtaking scenery.
  3. Turnagain Arm Views: The higher you climb, the more expansive the views of Turnagain Arm and the distant mountain ranges become. On clear days, the scenery is truly awe-inspiring.

This hike provides amazing views, but be prepared to work for them. It’s a step climb up and a gravelly hike/slide down!

Trail Guide:

Portage Pass Trail

Location: Chugach National Forest, Whittier, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 4 miles (round trip)

Estimated Hiking Time: 2-4 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Elevation Gain: Approximately 750 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: Late May to September

Trailhead Location: Portage Pass Trailhead, Whittier Access Road

Trail Description: The Portage Pass Trail is a short yet incredibly rewarding hike located in the stunning Chugach National Forest. This family-friendly trail offers breathtaking views of Portage Glacier, Portage Lake, and the surrounding mountains. It’s the perfect excursion for hikers of all skill levels looking to soak in the beauty of Alaska’s glaciers and landscapes.

A steep uphill hike for 4 mile to the pass at 750′ elevation is on an old military roadbed. Snow can persist into early summer. Trail starts in dense shrubs, with a lot of salmonberry, then enters sub-alpine hemlock forests. Numerous tarns can be found in the pass, perfect for a quick dip if it’s a warm day!
A spectacular view of Portage Glacier awaits you at the pass, and stays in view down to Portage Lake, approximately 1.25 miles from the pass.

Key Highlights:

  1. Scenic Overlook: The trail quickly ascends, leading you to a jaw-dropping overlook. From this vantage point, you’ll be treated to panoramic views of Portage Glacier, an impressive river of ice that descends from the Chugach Mountains.
  2. Portage Lake: As you continue along the trail, you’ll get glimpses of the pristine Portage Lake below. The glacial waters take on mesmerizing shades of blue and are often dotted with icebergs.

Trail Guide:

Erie Mine and Root Glacier Access Trails

Location: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 8 miles (round trip)

Estimated Hiking Time: 5-7 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Elevation Gain: Relatively level with moderate elevation gain and drop (although there is a bit of a climb down to Root Glacier if you want out walk on the glacier itself)

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: Late June to early September

Trailhead Location: Kennecot Mill Town

Trail Description: The Erie Mine and Root Glacier Trail offers a captivating journey through the remote and pristine landscapes of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, one of the largest wilderness areas in the United States. This trail combines views of historic mining remnants with the chance to walk on the ancient and mesmerizing Root Glacier.

Both trails start from Kennecott Mill Town but do split about a mile and a half into the trail. Turn left to head to the Glacier or go right/straight to continue onto the Erie Mine Trail.

Key Highlights:

  1. Erie Mine Remnants: On the Erie Mine Trail, Walk along glacial moraines parallel to the glacier, and cross Amazon Creek which may be flowing depending on rain or spring melt. You might be able to reach the bottom of Erie Mine’s aerial tram cable to enjoy views of the Stairway Icefall ahead and Root Glacier below. However, portions of this trail have washed out and are no longer being maintained by the national park. Hike at your own risk. Travel to the mine itself is dangerous and requires additional information.
  2. Stunning Scenery: As you progress on the trail, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains, glaciers, and expansive wilderness. The vastness and untouched beauty of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park is awe-inspiring.
  3. Root Glacier: The highlight of this hike is reaching the Root Glacier. After a moderately challenging ascent, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the glacier’s surface. Consider bringing crampons or traction devices for safe glacier travel (strongly recommended). Use caution if you choose to walk on the glacier. Guided glacier tours are also available for those looking for an in-depth glacier experience.
  4. Photography Opportunities: The entire trail offers fantastic opportunities for photography, from the historic mining structures to the glacier’s blue ice and crevasses.

Trail Guide:

Curry Ridge Trail

Location: Denali State Park, Alaska

Trail Length: Approximately 6 miles (round-trip) with Lake 1787 as the endpoint.

Estimated Hiking Time: 2 to 4 hours (round trip)

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Elevation Gain: Approximately 1,100 feet

Trail Type: Out-and-back

Best Time to Hike: Late June to early September

Trailhead Location: K’esugi Ken Campground, near Denali State Park ($5 parking fee)

Trail Description: The Curry Ridge Trail is an easy-to-moderate trail offering hikers the opportunity to explore the pristine wilderness of Denali State Park. This strenuous trail leads to the beautiful Lake 1787, providing scenic views and a serene alpine setting. But the best feature of this hike is the opportunity to obtain great views of Mount Denali, the highest mountain in North America.

Key Highlights:

  1. Epic Views: Along the way, hikers will enjoy sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, making it an excellent choice for those seeking breathtaking vistas and great views of Mount Denali!

Trail Guide:

Know Before You Go

Before you and your pup hit the trails in Alaska, it’s essential to check the specific regulations for each trail and area. While Alaska offers some incredible dog-friendly hiking opportunities, it’s crucial to be a responsible pet owner by following leash regulations, cleaning up after them (following leave-no-trace principles), and ensuring they are fit for the adventure. There is also a lot of wildlife in Alaska, so it is essential to be prepared to encounter bears, moose, or other animals on the trail.

The hikes listed above are just a handful of what Alaska has to offer. So, grab your hiking boots, leash up your pup, and explore the wild beauty of Alaska together. These dog-friendly hikes will not only provide exercise and fresh air but also create lasting memories of your Alaskan adventure with your best friend by your side.


Kate is the writer of Pawsitively Intrepid. She has spent the last 9 years working full-time as a veterinarian, treating dogs and cats. But as of June 2023, she is taking a year to travel with her dog, volunteer, and work on some passion projects.

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