During my first trip to Alaska (more about our adventures here and here), we spent a good amount of time hiking. What better way to see the truly rugged and wild side of Alaska?! The Rabbit Lake trail was a childhood favorite for my husband, making this hike a priority for our list of must-see places for my first visit. After hiking to Rabbit Lake, I can see why it is his favorite!
Rabbit Lake (via Rabbit Lake trailhead) – Chugach State Park, Anchorage, AK
Distance: 8.8 miles (out and back)
Elevation Gain: 1,200 ft
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Trail Features: Glacier-fed lakes (Rabbit Lake & McHugh Lake), long-range views of the ocean and Anchorage, flora, alpine meadows
The Rabbit Lake trail is located in Chugach State Park, on the eastern edge of Anchorage. Chugach is the third largest state park in America, with more than 400,000 acres of mountains, trails and wildlife, flanked by Anchorage to the west and the 200 miles of coastline to the south. Chugach State Park is easily accessible, due to its proximity to Anchorage. The park contains 110 trails, which amounts to more than 500 miles of hiking!
From the trailhead, follow a gravel road up the hill. The trail then opens up to a view of Rabbit Creek Valley. During our visit, it was late summer and there were plenty of flowers blooming along the side of the trail. We also saw a little bit of snow on either side of the valley.
The trail is relatively flat, with a total elevation gain of only 1,200 ft in 4.4 miles on the way to Rabbit Lake. The gain is gradual, with rolling hills throughout the trail. In fact, we encountered quite a few trail runners during our hike. I rated this trail as moderate, due to the distance and weather conditions. In my opinion, the biggest challenge was the change in temperature. The trail is at a high elevation and hikers will have to endure strong cold winds coming down the mountain. The wind is strongest as you approach Rabbit Lake. Make sure to dress in layers!
After 4.4 miles, your efforts are rewarded with a picturesque view of Rabbit Lake.
From this point, you can return to the Rabbit Lake trailhead through the valley. Alternatively, you can head to the right to begin the McHugh Creek trail, which connects to the Rabbit Lake trail at the lake. The McHugh Creek trail is 6.4 miles from this point to down the mountain to the trailhead (and sea level), with a 2,900 ft elevation drop. By combining both trails, the total distance amounts to 10.8 miles, one-way.
We decided to head back the way we came, by returning through the valley. The elevation of the trail offers a great view of Anchorage and the ocean, as you reach the trailhead.
As I mentioned, Chugach State Park offers more than 100 hiking trails. There are plenty of opportunities to see all that Alaska has to offer for nature lovers. I am eager to get back to Alaska and try a few more trails!
Given the recent chilly temperatures, I thought an Alaskan trail was quite appropriate for a Great Hikes post. Read more of our other Great Hikes reviews here, here, and here. Have you been on any great hikes recently?