The Falls Creek Trail has been on my "to hike" list for many years, a mere 20 minutes south of Anchorage. We've started hiking it before but we didn't have much time. After the state track meet was over on Saturday, the weather was nice and we had a sliver of time on Sunday before we needed to be home so we decided to check it out.
|The Falls Creek Trail follows Falls Creek, a wild, rushing stream
The trail follows Falls Creek nearly the whole way, sometimes quite close (in a few areas the trail was being eaten into the stream!) and other times nearby but not quite so present. It is an "uphill all the way" trail. The trail descriptions we read varied from 2.7 to 4.0 miles long, and from a 2700 foot to 4000 foot climb, likely varying depending on where the 'end' of the trail was considered: at the end of official trail or at the top of some surrounding peak.
|From the upper reaches of the trail, a peek of Turnagain Arm can be seen
The trail was shaded by tall poplar trees the first 45 minutes of climbing (for us; not necessarily for others depending on their pace), then was partly shaded by the shorter alders. We never did climb out of the alders and above treeline in the 60 minutes of ascending. The trail was not too steep compared to, say, the Skyline Trail, so it was comfortable hiking both up and down. The day was sunny and hot (70 degrees!) so that added to the challenge as we Alaskans aren't used to such heat.
The kids kept going to the saddle at the trail's end, then climbed partly up one of the peaks. For them it was 2 1/2 hours round trip at their fit, young pace. Doug and I just did an hour up and 45 minutes back, which was a nice break-in for an early-season climb to get our legs conditioned.
This was just a comfortable hike that hit the spot for a fairly low-energy day for us. The kids had wanted to hike the 15-mile Lost Lake Trail but I am happy they compromised with this one. It will end up on our 'to hike' list more often now. As a bonus, the parking is free in the small pull-off parking area off the Seward Highway.