Wind, rain, fog, and I still recommend it.
Where are you (park, forest, etc.)- Chugach National Park
Nearest town (s)- Anchorage, Indian (if that counts). It’s about a 20 minute drive from downtown
How long is this hike- Out and Back
Miles- About 9-10 miles
On your toughness scale (1 easiest, 10 toughest): 3. The challenge is in the distance, not the terrain. A little elevation gain to start, but mostly an easy walk. 1200 ft over the 4 miles going in.
One of my good friends in Anchorage used to do this hike regularly and send me pictures of a blue alpine lake bordered by two huge peaks that dropped into the sunny background. All the while I was at work sweating my butt off in the humidity of the east coast. About two years ago I finally got my first glimpse of Rabbit Lake, so I knew I had to go back again this past summer when I visited Anchorage.
The first time I came upon Rabbit Lake it had been by accident. We had climbed Flattop, the most frequented peak in the Chugach Range, and continued down the ridgeline. We had intended to go as far back as we could, but weather made the last peak in the range, Wolverine Peak, out of the question. Given our circumstances we decided to make our descent among loose shale down into the Rabbit Lake Valley.
Rather than descending down the valley back to the Flattop trailhead we walked an additional mile deeper into the mountains until they surrounded us on all sides. At the end of the valley sits Rabbit Lake with the Suicide Peaks standing tall in the background.
From what I remembered there was about half a mile in the brush before it opened up for about 3-4 miles in the alpine valley. At least this is what I told Katie, and I heard about my mistake about every 100 feet for the first 2 miles we trekked in the brush. To her credit this area was prime bear territory, tack on some low fog and spitting rain, and the beginning was ominous. We worked our way through the first two miles making noise and looking in the low trees for any sign of movement. We were relieved to get out of the confined trail that ranged from three feet wide to ten feet wide into an alpine valley that offered hundreds of feet to hike around.
“Just a heads up, don’t tell Katie but… Oh man does Erynne have a surprise waiting for you”. That was the best I could do after beginning to recite the text out loud. Well luckily it seemed to work for the rest of the hike. What the text really said was “Just a heads up, don’t tell Katie but my friend just told me there’s been a grizzly and two cubs hanging out right near that trailhead for the last week”.
With that fun fact in mind, I decided to make a good deal more noise on the way out. We descended the valley just as the fog began to lift. It was an awesome view below as the mountains served as walls on two sides of a scope that looked straight down to the city of Anchorage. A total of about ten relatively easy miles makes for one of the best hikes in Anchorage’s backyard.
Would you recommend? (Yes or no) Definitely. I would suggest this for any person who knows they can knock out 10 miles in a few hours. Not too tough and very rewarding.
Trail Tuesdays is a new weekly segment of Father Nature Outdoors. We realized that we have friends and colleagues all across the country so why not take advantage of their knowledge, and hear some fun stories in the process. If you would like to contribute to Trail Tuesdays yourself just go to the “Contact Us” page and let us know. In return we will reward you with a free FNO microfiber headband. We get to hear some awesome stories and in return we’re rewarding you just to go get some fresh air! That’s a win-win in our book.