Sunday, July 1, 2018

Hiking Upper Ship Creek, Chugach State Park (Alaska)


Camping in upper Ship Creek
If you want to get off the beaten path for a more wilderness experience close to Anchorage, take a hike in the upper Ship Creek drainage in Chugach State Park. To avoid snow and harsh weather in the passes and upper reaches, I generally hike there June through mid-September. My preferred access point is the South Fork trail head  (although there is access in Arctic Valley.) To get to the trail head, take the Eagle River Loop/Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway just past the weigh station. Turn right at the traffic light onto Hiland and continue about eight miles up the road. Take a right onto South Creek and follow it to West River Drive and take another right. The parking lot is on your left.

The trail starts out on a boardwalk for a short distance and then turns into a trail that traverses the right side of the South Fork valley as you head away from the parking area. (If you continue on the main trail, it eventually drops down to a bridge that crosses the South Fork of the Eagle River and continues to Eagle and Symphony Lakes at the end of the valley.) 


To access the Ship Creek drainage, continue ahead on the trail (past the main trail on the left that drops to the river.) This trail climbs steeply into a pass on the ridge above. Continue over the pass and descend into the Ship Creek drainage watching for the horse/game trail that heads up Ship Creek drainage (on your left.) (This route will take you into the upper reaches of Ship Creek if you choose to go that far.) We generally stay higher on the hills to avoid the brush choked areas closer to the river which can be difficult to negotiate. Once you are in the Ship Creek, drainage, the hiking possibilities are limitless. Hiking Alaska: South Fork Eagle River offers many grass-roots options You can limit your outing to just a day hike or take an extended trek to the North Fork of Ship Creek and beyond. But don't expect signs, mileposts or even trails here, just enjoy the wilderness. 

You can find more detailed information on hiking options in Ship Creek and Arctic Valley in the books below. These are my "go-to" books and have a wealth of information on hiking in Southcentral Alaska and Chugach State Park. (Both are available on Amazon at the links below.)

50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park
55 Ways to the Wilderness in Southcentral Alaska
Click here to download a map of Chugach State Park, Chugach State Park Map - Alaska DNR

Rendevous Ridge with view of Cook Inlet
 
Llamas trekking on the ridges and benches above Ship Creek.