Thursday, August 23, 2018

Williwaw Lakes and Long Lake - Chugach State Park, Alaska


Walrus Lake (Uppermost Williwaw Lake)
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.



Saddle SE of Near Pt.
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 option, start from the Glen Alps trailhead/parking lot to connect with the Williwaw Lake Trail via the Ball Park. For more detailed information on the trails, driving directions to trailheads, and maps refer to the following books. (Both are available on Amazon at the links below.)

The Loop/Traverse to Long Lake
From the pass above Walrus Lake (upper most Williwaw Lake) you can opt for a longer (possibly two day trip) to Long Lake and the valley of the North Fork of Campbell Creek. By the way "Williwaw" means “very windy” so be prepared for high winds, and secure your tent well (if camping.) The weather can change quickly and drastically at these elevations. I have also encountered very windy, wet and wintery conditions while camping around Long Lake in late summer. It is best to do this traverse June through August if you want to avoid adverse weather.

To make the traverse/loop from the pass to the Prospect Heights trailhead, continue around either side of Long Lake and follow the North Fork of Campbell Creek downstream about 2.5 miles beyond the last lake. At this point look for a trail on your left which climbs about 800 ft. (up the northwest ridge of Wolverine peak) to a notch/saddle on the ridge sou
Climbing from Long Lake (below) to the pass above Walrus Lake.
theast of Near Point. From here you can connect to a trail that goes back to Prospect Heights by (1) continuing on the trail up and over Near Point or (2) bushwacking from the saddle to the trail (that goes back to Prospect Heights.) The second (2) is my preferred option to avoid climbing over Near Point. Again, for more details on this trip, refer to the books cited above. What I like about the Williwaw-Long Lake traverse is that it is a delightful and very accessible "wilderness" trip in Southcentral Alaska right at Anchorage's back door.
Long Lake

*When I do the traverse, I prefer to take the trail to Near Point and proceed over the saddle/notch into the North Fork Valley of Campbell Creek and camp at Long Lake. The next day, we climb the pass and descend into the Williwaw Lakes hiking out mostly downhill to the Prospect Heights parking lot. The photo above (left) shows us heading down from this saddle into the North Fork of Campbell Creek.


 Hiking along Williwaw Lakes on trail through alpine valley.


Click here for photos of "Williwaw Lakes" trek and Facebook Post


Click here to download a map of Chugach State Park, Chugach State Park Map - Alaska DNR