Monday, June 27, 2016

McHugh-Homestead-Turnagain Arm Trails

We hiked the section south of the McHugh Creek trailhead just south of Anchorage years ago (dubbed the Rainbow section), and I'd gone north towards Potter Marsh on the Turnagain Arm trail as well, but ton this day our destination was up! I knew the McHugh Peak/Lake Trail was in the vicinity of the McHugh Creek trailhead, but the maps at the trailhead wasn't showing it. So upon starting out, Doug and I opted to go straight at the first intersection we came to, and that ended up being the Homestead Trail, which doesn't appear on any of the posted maps or my topographic map that I had in the car. It did have a sign that labeled it, and it is a well-established trail, so I'm not sure why it doesn't show up. Doug and I took that for an hour, which led us through a cottonwood forest, up into alpine meadows, through a recently burned area, and finally it connected with the McHugh-Rabbit Lake Trail (which does show up on maps). As far as we can tell, the Homestead Trail parallels the McHugh-Rabbit Lake Trail until it jogs up and meets it.

The kids didn't know the trails as well as I did, and were up ahead, so they ended up going along the Rainbow section of the trail, then back to the McHugh-Rabbit Lakes Trailhead, then they went cross-country and started to climb McHugh Peak until it started raining and the wind picked up, at which point they decided it prudent to get off the mountain (for which I am grateful for their good judgement!).

So for anyone who plans to do this hike, just minutes south of Anchorage, here's a map of the trails, and my advice is to look up the map before you go (don't count on the one at the trailhead!) if you're trying to get somewhere specific. The elevation gain is mild an hour or so in any direction so this can be a nice day hike area.

This sign ought to be in the McHugh trailhead parking area, but instead is down one of the trails a ways.

The Turnagain Arm Trail runs 9 miles from Potter Marsh near Anchorage to Windy Corner

The McHugh-Rabbit Lake Trail heads off the Turnagain Arm Trail north of the McHugh Trailhead area, with McHugh Peak in the background
Cottonwood fluff along the Homestead Trail

Huge cottonwood pucks act as steps across a muddy section of trail

There was a small but recent forest fire along the Homestead Trail, still smelling of smoke

Fireweed with the remains of a burnt tree (fire, indeed!) along the Homestead Trail

A nice view of the mouth of Turnagain Arm and into Cook Inlet from the Homestead Trail

A nice, comfortable trail:  Homestead Trail before it intersects with the McHugh Lake Trail

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