December 1, 2017

Favourite Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

When people hear that we lived in Alaska, their initial response is usually shock. They picture it to be this exotic, yet cold and dark, place and me to be this insane person for choosing to live there and loving every minute of it.

Let me tell you a little secret - it's not so remote a place. Yes, at times it can be dark and cold, but I wouldn’t necessarily use the words exotic or remote. At least, not where we lived in the largest city of Anchorage. For a city of 300,00(ish) people, despite being well over 4500 miles from what we call home, it does have all of the modern conveniences of home - Walmart, Costco, Target, to name a few. 

Popular Outdoor Spaces in Anchorage, Alaska

What is different than life in the concrete jungle of Toronto is that Anchorage is home to some of the most beautiful outdoor spaces we have ever seen, both in the city and just outside. You can drive a mere five minutes out of the city and be, well essentially, in the middle of nowhere.

And while we loved to explore outside of the city, we also enjoyed frequent afternoon trips to the more local outdoor spaces. Today, I'm sharing some of those popular outdoors spaces in Anchorage, Alaska with you. 

Flattop Mountain, Anchorage, Alaska
An oldie, but a goodie. The first time we climbed Flattop, circa summer 2011.

Flattop Mountain
Flattop is easily Anchorage’s most identifiable peak because of its  well, flat top, and is also Alaska’s most visited peak. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can ascend the 1.5 mile, 1,350 vertical foot trail to the rocky, football field-sized summit in about an hour and take in panoramic views from Denali to the Aleutian Islands. And when I say ascend, it is not a simply foot path. The last part of the climb involves a bit of skill. If you want vistas without the challenge, you can walk the short path from the parking lot to the overlook. 

If you don’t have a car, Flattop Mountain Shuttle has a service that transports you from Downtown (at 4th and C Street) to Flattop. And, if you are driving, visitor beware, the parking lot does get crowded in the warmer months. There is also a $5 fee per car, or you can purchase an annual State Parks pass.

Kincaid Park, Anchorage, Alaska

Kincaid Park
Kincaid Park offers the easiest way to get outside right in the city. This 1400-acre forest sits atop an old glacial moraine and offers one of America's top trail systems as well as Anchorage's largest moose population. The park is home to a maze of walking, biking and skiing trails, including the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail which connects Kincaid to downtown Anchorage. Be warned, if you visit in the winter, a lot of the trails are designated for skiers only. Be courteous of their trails. 

This park is also home to Anchorage’s only sandy beach, a secret to most. It holds a special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here.

Potter Marsh, Anchorage, Alaska

Potter Marsh
Potter Marsh, part of the Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge, is one of the most accessible wildlife viewing areas in Alaska. The marsh is a rest area for migratory birds including trumpeter swans, and is a year-round home for beavers, moose and bald eagles. Occasionally, you may even spot salmon spawning in the deeper water. You can get close to the marsh without getting your feet wet by walking the 1550-foot boardwalk, complete with interpretive signs and spotting scopes. Flanked by the Chugach Mountains on one side and the Turnagain Arm (and Seward Highway) on the other, this area provides excellent photo opportunities without leaving the city.

The Alaska Zoo, Anchorage, Alaska

The Alaska Zoo
It might not be your conventional way to get outside, but it is still outside none the less. The 25-acre wooded hillside setting of the Alaska Zoo allows visitors to get up close views of many animals that call the great state home, as well as some from other like-climate parts of the world. What started as a home for an elephant named Annabelle who was won in a contest, has evolved into a home for orphaned and injured wildlife from across the state. Today, the non-profit Alaska Zoo is home to 100 animals and is dedicated to promoting the conservation of arctic, sub-arctic and like-climate species through education, research and community enrichment. 

It holds a very special place in our hearts, but you can read more about that here

Have you visited Anchorage, or live in the area? What are your favourite outdoor spaces? I’d love to hear!

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