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Llamas, the Ultimate Backcountry Hiking Partner...

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Chugach National Forest (CNF) is attempting to ban pack llamas

Chugach National Forest (CNF) "short circuited" the NEPA process by providing no pubic notice to eliminate commercial use of pack llamas based on a perceived disease threat to wild sheep and goats. Since CNF's ban identifies pack llamas as a disease threat, this opens the door to eliminate them for all uses (including recreational) in the future. The public process was "short circuited" because CNF did not include verbiage that banned llamas in their draft Chugach National Forest Land Management Plan that was open for public comment in 2018.  However, this pack llama ban was added to the Final Chugach National Forest Land Management Plan after the public comment period was over which effectively eliminated comment by the pack llama user group. Now the pack llama user group is forced to protest the final CNF decision since we were not afforded the opportunity to comment during the public comment period. Your comments on past proposals to ban llamas on pubic land…

Hike the Symphony Lake - Ship Creek Loop

Do this hike in September and you will be rewarded with vibrant fall colors! The hike goes through the beautiful South Fork Valley and over the mountains into Ship Creek with stunning views of alpine lakes (Eagle and Symphony), tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains.

Download this free DNR South Fork Valley Trail Guide: SF Trail Guide & Map

To get there, take the trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes from the South Fork trailhead parking lot where there is now a fee station. Alaska State Park Fees. Proceed to the west side of Symphony Lake where there are several camping spots if you decide to camp here for the night. Once on the southwest side of Symphony Lake, look to the mountains directly west for a broad mostly tundra slope with a saddle at the top. After a 1600 foot climb you will reach the saddle where you can see the North Fork of Ship Creek. At this point you can either drop about halfway down to Ship Creek to find an old horse trail. Follow the horse/an…

Barbara Falls - Two ways to get there...

There are two ways to get to the spectacular 60 foot Barbara Falls (also called South Fork Falls) in Eagle River, Alaska. The easiest and shortest way is to drive to the gate at the bottom of Ken Logan Circle. The falls are about a half-mile walk on old roads from the end of Ken Logan Circle in a neighborhood off Hiland Road. No matter which route you take, be sure to bring some type of bear deterrent as this area is frequented by both black and grizzly bears in the warmer months. The noise from the falls is loud, so it's easy to surprise a bear. (See video below.)
Short Route: Take the Glenn Highway about 10 miles north to Eagle River Loop and exit toward the mountains. Turn right at the first light onto Hiland Road. Continue uphill about 3.3 miles and turn left onto River View Drive into a neighborhood. Veer left as it becomes Waterfall Drive, then follow until it dead-ends into River Park Drive. Continue right to Ken Logan Circle. Most of the circle is signed off-limits to parki…

Hike Williwaw and Long Lakes - Chugach State Park, Alaska

The hike to Williwaw Lakes is one of my favorites in Alaska's Chugach State Park. This trek which is a short drive from downtown Anchorage, offers a variety of options including day hikes, overnight or multiday adventures, In the winter, it is also popular ski trail. The lakes are alpine jewels situated in a mountainous valley above Anchorage at the base of craggy Mount Williwaw (elev. 5,445 ft.). The trek to the lakes takes the hiker through alpine tundra amid a variety of alpine flowers, grassy meadows and scrub hemlock. The pristine lakes offer the hiker an alpine paradise with spectacular views of surrounding mountains with the added bonus of wildlife viewing of dall sheep, moose, coyotes, fox, and various waterfowl. There are plenty of camping opportunities around the Williwaw Lakes.


There are several ways to access the lakes. For the more gentle but longer route, take the Middle Fork Trail from the Prospect Heights Parking lot. For a shorter but more rugged trail, start from…

Llamas in Bear Country

When out in the woods even in the suburban areas around Anchorage, hikers and walkers should always be "bear aware" and have some type of bear deterrent, whether that be bear spray or a gun. The debate goes on as to which is more effective against a bear. Here's an interesting article by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Bear Spray vs. Bullets Which offers better protection?. And of course no deterrent is effective if not readily available (i.e. stored in your backpack). So whatever you choose as a bear deterrent, be sure you can easily access it when needed. This ADN article provides helpful information on how to effectively use bear spray. How to Use Bear Spray Effectively.

I'm often asked "Do llamas attract bears?" Bears have been known to attack llamas but my experience has been that llamas don't attract bears anymore than any other pack stock or pets.
In fact the llama's "alarm call" may act as a good deterrent for bears. Llamas are instinctive…