Alaska Day Hikes

A portion of visitors coming into Alaska are visiting by cruise ship. Or, they are trying to cover as much of the state as possible and aren’t spending a ton of time in any one place. So, what do you do when you still want to explore the area, but have a limited amount of time? Day hikes are a perfect solution.

Situated just a two-hour drive from Anchorage is Matanuska Glacier. This glacier has professionally guided hikes due to the inherent risk that comes with traversing glacier terrain. This is also one of the only highway and foot accessible glaciers that the public can access without the requirement of going out with a guide. There is a access fee however. Want to split up the drive with other beautiful nature experiences? About halfway through your drive, near Palmer, you might want to stop to check out the many hikes in Hatcher Pass. One of our favorite day hikes in Hatcher Pass is the Lane Hut Hike. There is also ample historical interpretive information and the chance to see wildlife and enjoy the beautiful views this area has to offer.

Getting to the Glacier

On the way out toward the glacier, you’ll discover Matanuska River Park, just East of Palmer. The park has about 1.6 miles of trails that loop and intersect, a perfect stop for a short hike that the entire family can enjoy. Most of the trail explores forests of cottonwood, spruce, and birch trees. The park itself is situated beside small ponds and streams and leads to views of the Matanuska River Valley, and the Chugach Mountain Range. Along the way you will also get to enjoy some views of the Talkeetna Mountain Range. And on clear days, you have the opportunity to view far off vantage points of more distant mountain ranges.


As you get closer to the glacier, you’ll find areas such as Glacier View. Here, you’ll get a scenic view of the glacier itself along with trails to explore all around. In the search for a quick hike, find Pinochle Circle Road. This is a little used two-mile section of the old Glenn Highway. It’s a great way to have a quiet walk, with scenic views, and still traverse small hills for a bit of a challenge.

Luckily, Alaska is full of hiking trails. Don’t forget that when you’re in between destinations. You’ll find plenty of options to stop, stretch your legs, and explore the area with a quick day hike.