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Twin Peaks Trail to Eklutna Overlook

The Hike: Twin Peaks Trail to the Eklutna Overlook 

Why I like this Hike: 
This well maintained trail offers spectacular views of Eklutna Lake and surrounding mountains with the potential for dall sheep viewing. It's family friendly and suitable for various skill levels depending on what hiking option you choose. Located in Chugach State Park about an hour's drive north of Anchorage, the trailhead is easily accessible with good parking. (Parking fee required.)

How to Get There:
Google Maps - click Eklutna Lake

Length: Twin Peaks Trail is 2.6 miles one-way, with first bench located about halfway up. Overlook of Eklutna Lake is about another .75-mile, and Pepper Peak at least one additional mile.

Elevation: Twin Peaks Trail gains about 1,800 feet in elevation to the second bench. Pepper Peak is 5,450 feet elevation.

The Nitty Gritty:
From the day-use parking lot, cross a small footbridge, bear left onto the Twin Peaks trail and start climbing. You’ll begin getting great views down the 8-mile length of Eklutna Lake about a mile or so up the trail. After roughly 30 to 45 minutes of brisk walking you'll come to the first bench (literally a park bench) overlooking the lake which is a great place to take a break and pictures. For some hikers this alone may be destination enough. If you go on to the second bench at the end of the trail (~2700 ft. with 1800 ft. elevation gain), you will have several options. 

You could follow the rough trail that drops to the creek below, crosses the creek, and then winds for another mile or so to the saddle that stretches across the skyline some 1,900 feet above. From that saddle you can look out over the entirety of the Palmer-Wasilla Valley. From there you could continue on to climb the summit of Pepper Peak on the right.  (Reportedly, there is no easy way to summit East Twin Peak so do not attempt unless you are an experienced mountaineer/climber.) Check hiking books such as 50 Hikes in Alaska's Chugach State Park for details and only attempt these hikes/climbs if you are experienced and prepared.

To get to the overlook (recommended option), climb the trail directly behind the bench. Here, after circling up and around the south ridge of Pepper Peak, you’ll reach an overlook with breathtaking views of Eklutna Lake (photo above) and the massive 6,000- and 7,000-foot peaks rising above its far end (including 8,004-foot Bashful Peak, the highest peak in Chugach State Park). On an autumn day, the hiker will be rewarded with a view of the entire slope glowing with bright red in the changing tundra. (photo below) Whatever option you choose, enjoy!

Brilliant tundra colors with Twin Peaks in the background.