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Lower Eagle River or River Woods Trail (All Season Hike)

The Lower Eagle River trail (also called the River Woods Trail) runs along the Eagle River in Chugach State Park and it's just minutes from downtown Eagle River.
Why I Like This Hike: 
This is truly an all-season trail that can be hiked all times of the year including winter.  It's an easy walk that offers convenient access with intermittent views of surrounding mountains and opportunity for wildlife viewing. Due to the flat terrain and accessibility, it's a pleasant hike in any season and suitable for all skill levels including kids and elderly. Note: during the winter months temperatures along this river trail can be 10 to 15 degrees colder so dress accordingly.

How to Get There:
The trailhead can be accessed from the south side of the Briggs Bridge off the Eagle River Loop Road where there is pubic parking and a boat launch.

The Nitty-Gritty: 
From the Briggs Bridge access, the lower Eagle River trail goes east through birch and spruce forest over relatively flat terrain.  Sections of this trail can be very muddy during spring or early summer so waterproof footwear is advised. The old section of trail skirting the private land has been improved over the years and is now clearly marked. Boardwalks have been added to a marshy section next to the "Swan Pond" (photo below.) Remains of charred trees and scorched ground remind us of the Hiland Road Wildfire that burned about 25 acres over the 2016 Memorial day weekend. 

In about three miles the trail reaches the South Fork of the Eagle River. A trail to the left cuts through the woods and takes the hiker to the confluence of the South Fork and Eagle River. If you walk a short distance ahead (beyond the turn on the left), you will reach the South Fork itself. The bridge across the South Fork is long gone so you will have to ford the stream (in warmer months) or cross the frozen South Fork (during colder months) to continue to Barbara Falls. (The hike to the falls is a separate post here.)

Our destination today is the Eagle River so take the trail to the left. It's a short hike (maybe 1/4 mile) from here to the confluence of the South Fork and the Eagle River.  During the summer when salmon are running, be on the lookout for bears along this stretch as you could  easily surprise one due to river noise.  This past week we stumbled upon this fresh grizzly bear scat so be sure to have your bear protection available when hiking this trail.

At the confluence of the Eagle River and South Fork (photo below) there is an exposed gravel bar where you can take a break and enjoy views of the river and surrounding mountains.

Confluence of Eagle River & South Fork
The trail is open to biking as well as hiking so you may share the trail with fat tire bikers. It is also common to see rafts and kayaks floating the Eagle River at this location and you might even see some fisherman during the summer. 

(Updated August 2021)