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Thread: Best Hiking and Sledding Sites - Mid March

  1. #1
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    Default Best Hiking and Sledding Sites - Mid March

    We are planning a trip to the Anchorage area in March and since this is our first time in the area I am looking for some advice on the best place to take my family sledding and hiking. My son is 7 years old and we are very much the outdoor family so we are looking for the hiking/sledding adventure and not just a gentle bunny slope. We are staying on base at Elemendorf and we will set aside two days for a drive, and lots of stops along the way, down to Seward. We were planning a trip around the Flat Top Mountain vicinity/area. We do not mind driving because we love road trips and would mind traveling north but again I am not sure on the best places to go. I was told on another web site that the two books below are great places for information but I am a firm believer in asking locals for advice. Any, assistance would greatly be appreciated.

    http://www.amazon.com/Hikes-Alaskas-...4958950&sr=8-2
    http://www.amazon.com/55-Ways-Wilder.../dp/0898867916

  2. #2
    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    There is a 2 mile sled run at Arctic Valley that is a lot of fun but it's a sled eater and it's steep enough that you can be injured on it if you allow your sled to go too fast. I wouldn't recommend for a 7 year old, but you did say you don't want a gentle bunny slope. Many parks in Anchorage have some great sledding hills that are not bunny slopes but they are safer than Arctic Valley. Even Hillberg on Elmendorf itself is a pretty good sledding location. A beautiful drive would be to run up to Hatchers Pass and sled on the hill just to the right of the parking lot. It's a popular spot and a fairly long run.

    There's also lots of good hiking, of course, although you'll be limited on where you can hike in March unless you're bringing or borrowing snowshoes. Some popular areas have packed down trails. You might consider Kincaid Park, it's got a sledding hill and miles of multi-user trails available. If you plan a hiking/sledding combi trip in the mountains be very careful as back country sledding can put you in avalanche terrain. There was a sledder killed on Bird Ridge a few years ago that way.

    There are some rolling hills below Flat Top that might be ok for sledding depending on conditions when you get here but my recommendations would be to stay off Flat Top itself in the winter. Flat Top does avalanche, and it's quite steep in places and people get injured and killed on Flat Top pretty regularly just by losing their footing on the steep terrain. Not trying to put a damper on your plans, but would hate for something tragic to happen to you on your trip and people underestimate Flat Top.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    First, thank you for your detailed answer. I had read about the Arctic Valley sledding and we planned on going there but we will not go down the whole way. We saw some videos on youtube showing someone going down the entire run and it looked very bumpy and fast. Some other videos showed them use the last big hill just before the parking. We will confirm the family to that area. I might try the whole thing once
    We will almost will not go far into the Flat Top area. Just drive and look around the area. But, what about the McHugh trial area? We are absolutely not going the whole way, but I figured we could stop at the parking area and walk back a little.
    I had heard about Hatcher Pass and after hearing you talk about it we will definitely set aside a day to go that area. I found a web site showing some sledding hills in the Anchorage area and the listed Hatcher Pass along with a few pic. I have some linked below and they show pretty much exactly what we are looking for. At the bottom of this message I have a link showing two places in the Hatcher Pass area which look like places to go sledding, so we will definitively give it a shot. To answer you question about the snow shoes, we are going to rent them from the Outdoor Rec Center on base. So at least we will not be hiking on hopes and dreams. Great advice, it is definitiely helping us shape our trip. We heard about all the snow ya'll have been getting, hopefully there will still be a lot when we get there.

    Arctic Valley (Small Hill):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYdPq4vB47k

    Arctic Valley (Long Hill):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxTN-_V5K04

    Hatcher Pass Pic1:
    http://www.sledriding.com/images/hatcherspass2.jpg

    Hatcher Pass Pic 2:
    http://www.sledriding.com/images/hatcherspass.jpg

    Hatcher Pass Directions:
    http://www.sledriding.com/Alaska.html#Anchorage

  4. #4
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    What type of car will you have? Both Flat top and Arctic valley can be treacherous roads in the winter where you want 4wd and winter tires, and sometimes need to chain up. I've pulled vehicles out of snow banks on both roads. If you can get up to Flat top, that would be my recomendation for hiking and sledding, and the views are incredible.



    My daughter went sledding with her friends at Loretta French park in Eagle River (technically Chugiak) she said it's a pretty steep hill.
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    Matt,
    A couple of options our family has enjoyed:
    -- The Eagle River Nature Center at the end of ER Road (about 12 miles off the highway) has a nice trail that roughly follows the river. there are a couple of short loop options, but mostly it's out and back. Not much sledding as I recall. Nice, though, because by March it is getting some sun and if you go when the center is open you can refuel the youngster with hot drinks. They also have some nice displays of wildlife, etc.
    -- If you end up in Seward and have time, check out the road/trail to Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park. Depending on the weather and how late in the month you're going, it could be a long or short walk/ski. The parking area for the glacier is about 9 miles off the highway; in summer you drive all the way and in winter the plowing stops after the first 3 miles or so. Spring is sometimes in between. Check the park website, www.nps.gov/kefj for plowing info and hours of the nature center (near the glacier). There is also a public use cabin out by the glacier available for winter rental -- info is on the same web site.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by EagleRiverDee View Post
    You might consider Kincaid Park, it's got a sledding hill and miles of multi-user trails available.
    Keep in mind, though, that most of the trails at Kincaid are "ski only" in the winter, meaning no hiking, sledding, biking, running, snowshoeing, and no dogs. There are multi-use trails, but you have to make sure of which ones are which if you go there. Maps are available at the chalet and on the trails themselves.

    Prospect heights (near the top of Upper O'Malley Road) can get you into some really nice hiking terrain. There are even some good hills around that could offer some good sledding. I remember just sledding down the powerline trai as a kid right above the trailhead was always fun.

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    Member FishGod's Avatar
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    As mentioned before, Hillberg Ski Area on E.A.F.B. has a very cool tubing hill with individual lanes and a ski lift to get you up. This was a few years ago, but I assume it's still in operation.
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