Thursday, June 1, 2017

South Fork Eagle River Trail

Looking up Eagle Valley towards our destination, Eagle and Symphony Lakes

Last year Doug and I were killing time between events in Eagle River and were randomly driving down roads. We drove down one just off the first Eagle River freeway exit. There were no houses at first, but the further we got up the valley, the more houses there were. And then we saw a trailhead sign, which is nearly irresistible to check out. Ironically, when we pulled in we ran into a lady we know from Homer, who said this was her favorite hike in all of Alaska because it is mostly above treeline and fairly flat. That day, an ambulance was parked in the parking lot, as a young girl of about 10 or 12 had passed out while camping with her family and was being hauled out by medics.
The Hanging Valley Trail to the left will be
one of our places to explore another time

We put that hike on our "someday" list, and that someday came last week since state soccer was in Eagle River and track in Palmer so we were in the area for four days. There are other trails besides the South Fork Eagle River Trail, but we decided that would be a good one at 11 miles round trip to Eagle and Symphony Lakes and back, with less than 1000 feet elevation gain.

The trail was in very good shape the first half with hard-packed gravel and dirt, while the second half, when getting into the muskeg, was a bit boggy in places. Once we reached the terminus of Eagle Lake and the bridge, it was a mile of boulder hopping to a shelter between the lakes. There were lots of people on the trail, many dogs, and an impressive number of backpackers who were going to camp in the valley overnight. There was no sign of bear, but the kids went along Eagle Lake around the corner to look up the valley to Finger Glacier (out of sight) and saw bear tracks up that way.

View of Eagle Lake from the shelter between the lakes

Symphony Lake, still frozen

Eagle Lake with shelter

Much of the trail is in good condition

Overall, it was a nice hike, and 11 miles went by quickly. It was a bit windy at times, and snowflakes floated down at times, though it was in the 40's. It was also nice to be able to scout out other possible hikes, such as Rendezvous Peak, which begins at the same trailhead. I saw some folks coming back to the parking lot with downhill skis on their backs, so they were likely catching some late season snow up top.

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