Alaska is most famous for its glaciers, fjords, and magnificent mountains, and more lakes, rivers, and waterways than one could wish for. Alaska has national parks bigger than some countries and icebergs taller than skyscrapers. Among all its scenic beauty, Alaska has some of the best bike friendly trails for you to explore. From mountainsides to national parks, from lake sides to coastal trails, you have your options wide open for you. Anyone can bike down a road, but as cyclists, it is much more preferable to travel down a beautiful road or trail accompanied by gorgeous scenic views.
Traveling by bicycle is good for your mind and body, giving you the opportunity for exercise and clearing away busy thoughts. Great biking comes down to enjoying yourself outside of the house and exploring new terrain, plus its good for the environment. And for those cyclists in Alaska, here are 12 bike trails that are some of the best.
1. Hillside / Far North Bicentennial Park
For a true wilderness experience within Anchorage, explore the 4,000-acre Far North Bicentennial Park. This is the largest park in Anchorage, Alaska, and has over 1 million annual visitors. In the summer, this area is frequented by both brown and black bears so be sure to educate yourself about bears and take safe precautions.
Far North Bicentennial Park includes the Hillside trails and access to Chugach state park. The park has world-class Nordic ski trails that are great for biking and hiking in the summer as well as many multi use winter trails for both fat-biking and Nordic skiing. This area has something for everyone. There are hilly, technical narrow sections, as well easier wider bike trails, both above alpine in the tundra areas and lower down in the woods.
There are so many trails to ride it is hard to pick a favorite route here. The trails for the most part are well marked with names & small locator maps and there are large signs/maps at the major trail heads. There are four different areas within the park that are all interconnected.
Tsalteshi Trails are located just south of Soldotna with two trail heads. The trail system is wide and great for biking with a group. The trail has 8 major loops ranging in length from 1 to 6 miles and varies in difficulties with many interconnecting loops. That’s not the end of it though; the trails are under construction to build new routes. Most trails have winding climbs and downhills that are surrounded by a thick forest.
The area is bigger than it says on the maps. The different trails are categorized in terms of difficulty, from very steep to virtually flat, offering a range of options for cyclists. In the winter this is a world class Nordic skiing area.
3. Resurrection pass
The Resurrection Pass Trail through the Kenai Mountains is by far the most popular back-country route in South-central Alaska. This trail is ideal for backpackers and mountain bikers. The 38-mile trail links the historic gold mining area of Hope to a trail-head near Cooper Landing and the Kenai River. It is a true Alaskan classic, drawing hundreds of hikers, cyclists, and skiers during all seasons.
Online rental cabins along the trail also make Resurrection Pass a favorite multi-day back-country biking adventure. This century-old mining trail is one of the best & challenging bike rides in South-central Alaska. There is no cell service out there and you must be bear aware and self-sufficient.
There are some moderate technical sections and it is a LONG 38 miles of bumpy single track so be sure you are have enough water and food. Cooper Landing (south end) is approximately 80 miles south of Anchorage. From there it’s a 2600’ elevation gain for the first 18 miles, then it is more or less a downhill to Hope.
4. Kincaid Park
Kincaid Park, located in west Anchorage, is a blend of 1,400 acres of wooded lands, scenic mountain and water views, and opportunities for wildlife viewing. The natural hilly terrain of the area is perfect for cross country skiing in the winter and has been steadily developed as such since the early 70's. Here you will find some of the best off road cycling in town during the summer.
Currently there are over 45 miles of main trails and many more secondary trails within the park. Most of the main trails are doublewide as they are designed for skiers and maintained with a grooming machine in the winter. This is a very densely forested and brush covered landscape so most of the time the doublewide trails are a welcome feature, but there are single-track trails as well. The trails are mostly well signed complete with maps posted at major intersections with colors corresponding to the difficulty of the trails.
All the Loops are very well marked and maintained. The different loops range from beginner to expert. You will find everything there from expert to easy riding. There are long and short climbs with switchbacks, long and fast downhills with gnarly jumps. Be aware of the moose - they are everywhere and always give moose the right-of-way.
5. Denali National Park
Denali National Park is six million acres of wild land all connected by one ribbon of road. Bikers along the road see the low elevation taiga forest give way to the high alpine tundra, snowy mountains and glaciers. Denali Mountain is the tallest peak in North America with a height of 20,310'. Countless other tall peaks of the Alaska Range arch across the parklands. Cyclists may ride on park roads, parking areas, campground loops and the designated Bike Trails between the Nenana River and the Denali Visitor Center. Bicycles are prohibited on all other trails. To make it a multi-day bike-packing trip, plan ahead and reserve campsites along the park road.
The Denali Park Road is a 92 mile gravel and dirt road that leads deep into the park. You can pay for the shuttle bus and get dropped at any point on the park road. You can shuttle to the furthest point and bike back. You have the flexibility to also grab a shuttle along the way once you're tired. There are bears roaming freely so be educated on bears and bring bear spray, an air horn and follow Park safety suggestions.
6. Russian Lakes Upper and Lower
Russian Lakes Trail is popular with bikers and backpackers, hikers, hunters and fishermen. This easy-to-follow trail connects the most intense sockeye salmon sports fishery in the world with stunning mountains and wilderness. This 21-mile (one way) route accesses Russian River Falls, Lower and Upper Russian Lakes, Cooper Lake, 3 federally managed recreational cabins, and numerous campsites. NOTE: Bears like to fish too so be educated about bear safety and use caution.
This multiple-use trail from Russian River Campground to Cooper Lake Road follows the valley of the Russian River, past Lower and Upper Russian Lakes then gradually climbs to the area at the head of Cooper Lake. Mostly wooded with frequent open areas with views of mountains and lakes. Snow can remain on the upper end of the trail into the early part of June.
7. Chena River State Recreation Area
Chena River State Recreation Area is a park for all seasons, with 397 square miles of forests, rivers, and alpine tundra. The park follows the Chena River: a clear flowing, class I-II river, ideal for kayaking, canoeing, or fishing for the abundant arctic grayling.
Mountain bikers find the area to be teeming with opportunities as it offers year round biking. With the now ever popular fatbikes more bikers are doing winter riding. Generally, there are long gaps between snowfalls during winter in Alaska’s interior, so the bikers get the chance to enjoy the winter scenery as well as get a chance to ride once the snow is packed down.
8. Ester Dome Single-track System
Ester Dome Single-track System is one of the best and cleanest single tracks between Kenai Peninsula and interior Alaska. It has three, bi-directional loops, two of which (outer and inner), connect to form a rough figure eight, totaling approximately 11 miles of windy, well banked switchbacks traversing the birch-laden hillside. It has a good balance of climbing and descending with some flat spots at the bottom of the trail.
In addition, the Technical Trail adds another mile of tight, technically challenging loop of roots. The switchbacks will test your balance, timing and confidence! Even though it seems like this trail lacks mileage, the system will keep you intrigued as long as you can take it. The track is well maintained, decently marked and great for a challenging workout.
9. Lost Lake
Lost Lake is one of the most beautiful and best single tracks on the Kenai. The scenery includes everything from temperate rain forest to glaciers and meadows that are full of wildflowers in mid-summer and stunning panoramic views of Resurrection Bay. The upper portion of the trail has fairly smooth sections where you can recover between challenging stretches. With a car shuttle you can ride 17 miles from one end to the other.
It is about a 2000’ climb up from either end of the trail so you will get in good cardio workout along with a bonus of gorgeous views at the top. You can take your time across the hilly ridge top and enjoy the beauty and lakes with glacier backdrops. The ride down is pretty fast with some drop-offs so use caution. Be sure to take bear spray, and air horns and ride with a group and make noise because it is bear country.
10. Bird to Gird Pathway
Without a doubt, the Bird to Gird pathway is one of the most gorgeous and accessible paved bike trails in Alaska. The trail is about 24 miles round trip or 12 one way and this scenic paved trail connects three communities, Girdwood, Bird and Indian. It doesn’t matter if you want to just go for a easy cruise or experience the trail as a tourist or you want to go fast on a road bike, it is a perfect trail for any kind of cyclist. If on a road bike, do use caution and watch for those slow cruising kids and tourists.
You will have plenty of interpretive signs along the trail, detailing information on wildlife and interesting geological features. If you’re very lucky, you will see Beluga whales. Also Turnagain Arm has the 2nd biggest Bore tides in the world and Dall sheep will be grazing on the cliffs above you. As usual be bear aware and use caution. And remember to bring some money for ice cream in Girdwood!
11. Homer Spit Trail
The Homer Spit Trail is a paved multiuse pathway, overlooking Mud Bay and Kachemak Bay. It is an incredible spot if you want to see eagles, waterfowl and shorebirds. With Alaska’s snowy Kenai Mountains and glaciers in the background and the diverse land and marine life on full display, riding down this trail will give you nothing but joy and amazing scenery. When you bike to the end you are at the end of the US highway!
The Homer Spit (the remains of an ancient glacial moraine) is a long and narrow piece of land that juts out into Kachemak Bay. The Spit Trail is 4.5 miles one way and has recreational activities like fishing, paddling, camping, shopping and boat tours out near the end of the spit. You can stop half way and go fishing at the fishing hole or watch people fish. The trail is in very good condition and mostly flat. Along the trail you will also get a chance to see some unique buildings, as well as sea otters, seals, and whales just off shore.
12. Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is by far the most popular trail in Anchorage. This paved trail is also one of the most beautiful coastal trails in the nation. This trail gradually winds down the coast for eleven miles from Second Avenue in downtown Anchorage to the chalet at Kincaid Park. The trail runs along the coast of Anchorage, and is designated for non-motorized use. The trail is entirely paved, supports two-way traffic, and connects with the Chester Creek Trail.
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail gives you a chance to leave the city life behind and explore the natural and human history. As a bonus you will get the chance to enjoy the wildlife that is in abundance along the trail, especially where the trail leaves the more populated areas and is surrounded by birch trees and spruce. For safety always give moose the right-of-way. In winter the coastal trail is a popular fat-biking and multiuse route but please note that bikes are not allowed to ride on the Nordic ski trails, once you reach Kincaid Park.
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