Between Girdwood and Anchorage along the Seward Highway, Turnagin Arm hems in the road on one side while the Chugach Mountains rise thousands of feet on the other side. There are oodles of pull-offs and hiking trails along this section within 45 minutes of Anchorage, but it seems like we are always in a hurry to get somewhere and don't have the time to stop for a hike. Last week on yet another trip to Anchorage my cousin and I made time to climb Bird Ridge.
The Bird Ridge hike begins at the most distinctive parking lot along this section of highway: what looks like hundreds of feet of rock were blasted out, making sheer cliffs that grab your attention as you drive by. The tiered parking area is nicely paved, making it impressive by Alaska standards. We actually parked 1/4 mile to the north where there was another parking area for the same trail.
It starts out with a paved path and just past the bathrooms the trail begins to climb. On par with Alaska, there is a race up this trail to the top (just up; not back down), which follows a ridge all the way up. My cousin thought it takes nearly an hour for the speediest climber to get up there, so that would be a long climb. We ended up climbing for 45 minutes up since we didn't have a lot of time. Some other people who were climbing were watching for a bore tide (when there is a very low tide going to a very high tide, a single wave 2 to 6 feet high sweeps up the Turnagin Arm) that was supposed to come through about 6:15-6:30, which was right around the time we were up there. We didn't see it, which was a bummer.
This hike is a nice one for getting incredible views of Turnagin Arm without climbing too much since the trees are not very dense. Forty five minutes got us to the area where we would have had to start climbing over rocks rather than just hiking the trail, so that worked out well. We figure we climbed 600-800 feet, which would have been more comfortable if we weren't wearing jeans!