Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Eagle River Nature Center to Heritage Falls






The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range and offers diverse scenic sights including glaciers, waterfalls, wildlife. It’s not only a great hiking/backpacking route, but it's also a historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. A bit of trivia not known by many is that this trail was rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor.

If you elect to hike the entire 23 mile trail you can start from either Girdwood or the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC); however, most hikers start from Girdwood because there is less elevation gain from this direction. The Elevation Gain is 2,100 feet from Crow Creek trailhead; and 3,100 feet from the ERNC. 

For more info on the entire 23 mile traverse, see this link - Guide to Crow Pass Trail

There are a number of hiking options from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) parking lot. You can hike the entire 23 mile traverse, hike portions of the trail (as I often do) or take one of a number of other (shorter) trails that start from the ERNC.
Follow this link for more info on these shorter trails: Eagle River Nature Center Trails.






One of my favorite sections is the trail from the ERNC to Heritage Falls.  It's about a 10.5 miles round trip from the ERNC and makes for a nice day hike. The trail from the Nature Center to the Perch (mile 4) and then on to Heritage Falls (mile 5) can usually be hiked all times of the year including winter. (Note: this is not true of the Cross Pass end where avalanche danger is a concern during the winter months.

From the ERNC, this section of trail meanders through the woods until it meets up with the Eagle River at Echo Bend (mile 3) where it generally follows the river from this point forward. At about mile 1.2 the hiker gets a first glimpse of the Eagle River at the Rapids Camp.  It's not uncommon to see moose, sheep, goats and bear on your way to Heritage Falls depending on what time of year you are hiking. During the fall, you have the added bonus of stunning fall colors.


During the winter months when the river is frozen, the hiker can alternate between the river the trail. I usually hike the river from Echo Bend (when frozen) to the Perch, and then get back on to the trail and hike to Heritage Falls. The trail from the Perch to Heritage Falls is more direct than following the river on this section..The trail from the Perch to Heritage Falls is more direct than following the river on this section.

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