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The 10 Best Backpacking and Hiking Trips in Alaska

Here's what you need to know...
  • Alaska is an incredible place to go hiking and backpacking
  • With so many different trails and locations, the hikes in Alaska have something to offer to people of every age and skill level
  • You need to make sure you have the right car insurance coverage before venturing out into these locations

Alaska was one of the last states admitted to the Union in 1959. Those who criticized the purchasing of Alaska from Russia assumed it was a barren land with nothing to offer.

Throughout the years, Alaska has proved to be a significant resource to the United States from being a major player in the gold rush to producing oil and gas, lumber, and fish.

What Alaska has to Offer

As the largest state in the US, Alaska has countless options for people of all skill levels.

Backpackers and hikers come from far and wide to explore the wonders of Alaska. From the magnificent views of the celestial mountains to the solitude of being at one with nature, Alaska has something to offer for everyone.

Spanning the state are over 750 trails for every skill level. Because there are so many trails to choose from, it’s hard to decide which ones are the best. Here is a cheat sheet for some of the best backpacking and hiking spots in Alaska.

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The 10 Best Backpacking and Hiking Trails in Alaska

#1 – Barometer Mountain

Barometer Mountain is one of the most popular mountains on Kodiak Island, mostly because it’s close to the town. In fact, the trail that leads up the ridge starts right at the end of the Kodiak Airport runway. The trail itself is very steep as it goes straight up the side of the mountain.

However, at only four miles roundtrip, a hike up Barometer Mountain is about a two-hour trip, but consider taking a tent and spending a night at the top if you have good weather.

Expect to see things such as the valleys of wildflowers and picturesque views of the other Kodiak islands, the Pacific ocean, and the town below.

#2 – Kesugi Ridge

Kesugi Ridge will take you on a three or four-day hike through rolling alpine and sub-alpine terrain. The highlight of the trip is the magnificent 360-degree view of the Denali and Alaska Range, depending on the weather of course.

There are numerous trails that intersect to get to Kesugi Ridge Trail including, Little Coal Creek Trail and Ermine Hill Trail. Make sure to prepare for bad weather as there isn’t much to protect you from a violent storm.

#3 – Lost Lake Trail

The Lost Lake Trail is 7.3 miles long and will take you through an enchanted spruce forest and a rolling meadow before coming to miraculous views of Lost Lake and the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

Designated camping spots along the way will accommodate you for an overnight trip. The trail to Lost Lake is moderate in difficulty and has a gradual and consistent elevation gain throughout the course of the trip.

#4 – Deer Mountain Trail

Although a short distance, the less than 3-mile Deer Mountain Trail is rated most difficult for its switchbacks and steep, rocky and uneven surfaces. The stunning alpine meadows and beautiful wildflowers quickly make up for the effort put into the climb.

The views from the summit include parks, peaks, and all the mountains along the Continental Divide.

Be forewarned that the weather on Deer Mountain can change quickly, and you should be prepared for all conditions. There are two shelters for overnight stays that are on a first come, first serve basis.

#5 – Mount Marathon

When accessing the incredible views of Mount Marathon, you have a few options to get to the top. Either take the hard trail, commonly referred to as to the Racer’s Trail, that includes a difficult climb up a rocky cliff or take the easier trail that starts at the base of the mountain and gently climbs the spine of the mountain.

Either way, you’ll find some awesome views of Seward, Resurrection Bay, the rocky islands, and the Kenai Mountains.

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#6 – Wickersham Dome Trail

Wickersham Dome Trail offers scenic views of the White Mountains. The White Mountains range is named after the hue that its limestone foundation gives off.

The trail travels along ridges and is mostly packed dirt and exposed rock. Wildlife is dispersed throughout the area, but it is not uncommon to see animals such as wolves, Dall sheep, moose, caribou, marmots, and many species of birds.

You may even catch a glimpse of a black bear as they like to linger in the blueberry thickets.

#7 – Twin Peaks Trail

The 5.5 mile Twin Peaks Trail will require effort as it’s mostly uphill and requires some moderate climbing.

The trail itself starts with a forest of birch and spruce and will give you a serious workout.

There are benches for resting along the way, including an overlook of Elktuna Lake. Once you reach your destination point, you will see the magnificence of the East and West Twin Peaks. It is well worth the time spent on the trail.

#8 – Reed Lakes

Reed Lakes Trail is a hike that can be easily completed by most. There are a few sections, such as the boulder scramble, that may take a little effort to get through, but nothing that should deter you from going.

Although the trail can be completed during the day, it is normally an overnight camping trip. The trail will take you to an old cabin and a waterfall.

The lake itself is a sight to see as the water is turquoise blue and fed by glaciers. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture some of the incredible scenery.

#9 – Exit Glacier

Experience Exit Glacier for yourself. The trail to Exit Glacier is rated easy and is even handicapped accessible.

The Seward Windsong Lodge offers a 2.5-hour guided tour of the glacier trail, where you can learn about the history of the glaciers and how global warming is currently affecting them. The glacier is something to see.

#10 – Gunsight Mountain

Gunsight Mountain is one of the largest glaciers in Glacier National Park. It’s unique because it has a large double summited peak.

There are three different routes that lead to the summit, all of which can be completed in one day. There are limited times of year to climb, usually spanning from June through early October, depending on the amount of snow.

For a more leisurely hike, plan on camping at one of the designated campgrounds.

For the most part, hiking the trails are free. There are a few guided hiking options, which will give you access to an expert guide who knows the ins and outs of the trails as well as the history.

Of course, always be sure to check the level of the trail beforehand to make sure it’s something that you’ll be able to safely accomplish.

Other Things to Consider


When hiking in Alaska, you need to think about your car believe it or not. Many of these hiking trips will require you to drive your car up to a certain point before embarking on your trip by foot.

– Auto Insurance Coverage for Your Car

Making sure you have full coverage car insurance will ensure that your car is protected from the risks presented in leaving your vehicle in a remote area for an extended period. A few things you have to worry about in Alaska are:

  • Vehicle theft
  • Damage to your vehicle from animals
  • Damage to your vehicle from weather
  • Damage to your vehicle from a hit and run

Although Alaska only requires you to have liability coverage, you will want added protection when leaving your car exposed to the elements.

Collision and comprehensive are two types of coverages that you will want to look into getting as they will pay for damages caused to your vehicle when you aren’t around.

– Plan Ahead

Make sure you prepare ahead of time for longer hikes that don’t have looped trails back to your starting point. For these kinds of trails, you may need assistance to get back to your vehicle.

You have a few options when it comes to this dilemma, including:

  • Have a friend drive you, drop you off at the starting point and pick you up at the end of your journey
  • Leave the key to your car with a friend, so that they can pick you up in your vehicle
  • Find out if ridesharing options are available in the area

If your friend is going to be driving your car, be sure that they are covered under your insurance. You may need to adjust your policy so that your insurance will include someone else driving your vehicle.

Shopping around for insurance will help you get the right coverage for the right price. Online comparison tools make it easy to compare multiple quotes all at once. Make sure you are fully covered before your next hiking trip!

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