Exploring the Eklutna Lake Trail

by Mike Still
Exploring the Eklutna Lake Trail

Winter in Alaska brings lots of snow to already stunning landscapes like Eklutna Lake and when the scene gets covered in a fresh white blanket the whole states gets even more picturesque.  With fresh powder coming down twice last week it was an easy choice to pack up my cross-country skis and head out on the Eklutna Lake Trail!  I hiked the whole 12.9 trail in the fall but this was my first time here cross-country skiing on fresh, ungroomed trails.

Welcome to Eklutna Alaska!

You’ll find everything you need to explore Eklutna Lake here in this post.  Scroll down for directions, parking info, and even a downloadable map!  If you enjoy this page please share it with a friend you want to explore Alaska with!

Ekluta Lake Trail

Eklutna Lake Trail leaves right from the parking lot and on this trip made fresh making fresh ski tracks straight from my car!  The trail follows the north side of Eklutna Lake but before you get too far be sure to take a stop by the lakeside, its right near the parking lot and on a calm fall morning has a perfect reflection.  On a winter day it’s it will be completely frozen over!

 Getting to Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake is about 1 hour from Anchorage by car.
Take Alaska 1 North past Eagle River until the exit for Eklutna Lake.
Google Maps Directions are simple to follow.

Eklutna Lake has rocky shoreline making it perfect for kayaking and fishing in the warmer weather.
In the winter the lake freezes over and you can ski or skate on it.

Eklutna Lake Alaska

I thought about traversing Eklutna Lake on skis but since I’m still a new Alaskan and its been a bit warm I chickened out.  Later in the day, I did see a guy skiing on the lake but I had a lot of fun on the trail so I’ll just have to come back again to ski on the lake right?  I stayed on the old trail by the lakeside but if you come with a snowmachine or ATV you’ll need to take the new road that runs parallel to it.

On the Eklutna Lake Trail you have two choices, hike/ski on the old trail OR share the new trail with motorized vehicles, dogsleds, or even a motorized dog sled!

Parking at Eklutna Lake

Don’t risk a $50 parking ticket!
Living in Alaska? Get your parks pass for $50
Visiting Alaska? Pay a $5 parking fee at the entrance.

These backpacks are perfect for trekking Eklutna Lake or anywhere in the world!

The first time visited Eklutna Lake was when Ben and I hiked out to Serenity Falls with his friend Sam. Together we backpacked along Ektlutna’s riverside trail and out to the Serenity Falls Cabin.  We had a beautiful fall day with blue skies and a perfect mirror reflection in the lake.  Clear skies meant Ben and I could take some night shots later too!

Eklutna Lake Cabin

There are 2 cabins available for camping at Eklutna Lake along with some campgrounds.
Yuditnu sleeps 6 and is the first Eklutna Lake Cabin along the trail.  (Reserve it on Alaska.gov for $60/night)
Serenity Falls Cabin is newer and sleeps 13 at $15 per bunk or $165 for the whole cabin.  Reserve Serenity Falls Cabin with this form.

Just past Yudintu Cabin you’ll find the Bold Ridge Trailhead.  I turned back before this fork on my ski trip but we went all the way up Bold Ridge before getting to Serenity Falls.  The Eklutna Lakeside Trail is mostly flat while the Bold Ridge Trail has a sharp incline with over 3500 ft of elevation gain in just 3.5 miles!

Bold Ridge Trail

The Bold Ridge started as a steep Autumn stroll and turned into my first tundra trek.  Even though the leaves below were still yellow up on the ridge we battled a few inches of snow.  We were thankful for the blue skies above and knew the viewpoint would be worth the struggle.

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We spent a little over an hour working our way to the viewpoint as the trail slowly turned from a forest floor into a snowcovered tundra.  Brambles crunched with the snow beneath our feet and the trail became impossible to find.  I led the way clearing a snowpath as we zigzagged up the final stretch of the ridge.
The view from the top was stunning and we thought about continuing higher yet but then realized we had many hours of trail left before we arrived at Serenity Falls Cabin.  After a quick photo opp we turned back down our snowy trail.  By the time we got to the bottom my legs were quite happy to be done with that intense climb.

Eklutna Lake Map

Click here for a downloadable Ekultna Lake Map from Alaska.gov

One foot in front of the other I focused less on the act of hiking and more on what lay ahead.  We scouted the horizon for signs of bear or moose while philosophizing about life, the universe and everything.

I the began to dream of hot chocolate and the MRE that awaited me for dinner as my legs grew tired and longed for a break.  We passed the Eklutna Airport and eventually turned the corner to see our home for the night!  The cabin itself was hidden in the trees, it was dark and not a great photo so instead here’s another shot of Eklutna Lake!

The next day we set off exploring some of the further reaches of the Eklutna Lake Trail but certainly didn’t cover it all!  I’ve been twice now and am sure I’ll go back to Eklutna again soon.

Have you been to Eklutna or do you want to go?  Tell me about it and whether you’d prefer the winter or fall hike in the comments below!

Hotels near Eklutna Lake Trail

Eklutna Lake is not far from Anchorage but remote enough that there aren’t many options for accommodation.  If you aren’t camping on the trail then the closest place to stay is Eagle River but your online selection is limited so I recommend booking today!

Eagle River Microtel – Rooms from $52 and up – This is the cheapest accommodation I found near Eklutna Lake.  The Microtel has a variety of rooms available and 24/7 reception.

Alaska Chalet Bed & Breakfast – $85 and up – This BNB is the best place for couples to spend a getaway in Eagle River.  Their suite comes with a spa bath and so much more!

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More photos from this adventure and others can be found on the @LiveTravelTeach Instagram Account and don’t forget to follow www.LiveTravelTeach.com by adding your email at the top of this page to make sure you don’t miss any of these amazing adventures!

Disclaimer:  This is the internet and It is safe to assume that links and content contained on this webpage provide compensation to the website’s owner.  The opinions here are my own and the information here is accurate as of February 2018.  Unless otherwise labeled, all photos were taken by Mike Still.

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Mike Still
Mike is a travel enthusiast, photographer and teacher. He loves adventure travel, meeting the locals and exploring new culture. As an outdoor enthusiast you can often find him hiking mountains or exploring forests trying to capture the beauty of mother nature. In 2013 he founded www.LiveTravelTeach.com as he left his home in America and has been teaching or traveling around the world ever since!

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Eric Gamble February 22, 2018 - 6:11 pm

holy smokes.. Eklutna Lake is amazing. I hate the cold but I would totally hike the Eklutna Lake & parts of Bold Ridge trail. Those views of the lake are truly breath taking. I love how the mountains perfectly reflect in the lake like a mirror. Your pictures are great, I wish I could just jump in. If I dont hike this I think this would be a cool experience for dog sledding.

Mike Still February 23, 2018 - 10:33 am

Thanks Eric. Eklutna Lake really is pretty awesome. If you don’t like the cold then you can visit in the summer! I’m sure I’ll make it back to Eklutna once it warms up and see it in a whole new light

Spend Life Traveling February 23, 2018 - 11:34 am

To be honest I never really considered visiting Alaska because of the cold but this looks gorgeous! And I have always wanted to try a dog sled 🙂

Kavita Favelle February 28, 2018 - 3:27 am

Gosh it looks utterly beautiful and an hour from Anchorage makes it reasonably accessible, I would say? I’d be nervous too about how to assess whether the ice is thick enough to make walking or skiing on the lake safe or not, especially if it’s a little warmer than usual, but hopefully you’ll learn those signs really soon!

Leona February 28, 2018 - 9:36 pm

I think Id have to go in summer as I don’t like the cold! I would love visit and perhaps see the stars which look fantastic

WorldLillie March 11, 2018 - 6:14 am

So funny — I was JUST talking with my husband last night about how we’d love to go to Alaska. I’d never heard of Eklutna Lake Trail before, but your photos of it are stunning. Of the hotels, Alaska Chalet seems like exactly what we’d want.

Sarah March 15, 2018 - 1:34 pm

What a gorgeous destination. I’m so surprised to see how affordable the hotels are – nice surprise.

wanderlustvlog March 18, 2018 - 8:11 pm

I have to admit that I tend to travel to warmer places, because I live in a cold country myself. Although, when I see your pictures, Alaska seems so beautiful, and I may have to change my point of view… Especially the starry sky is breathtaking!

Christina March 21, 2018 - 2:13 am

Hey Mike, I love winter landscapes but I’ve never heard of Eklutna. It sure does look like my kind of place! Alaska is definitely on my bucket list and I would love to explore Eklutna when I go.

Fiona Maclean March 22, 2018 - 4:56 am

How beautiful is that. I’ve never seen a night sky like the one over Eklutna – and it really does look amazing by day too. I’d be on that dog sledge (or electric dog sledge) in a shot!

Medha Verma March 29, 2018 - 3:55 am

Did you make the videos using a drone? What a lovely place and the trek does look like it is totally worth the view! Eklutna lake is amazing, I’ve never heard of it and I have not been to Alaska but it’s on my list. The pictures of Eklutna lake remind me of Banff in Canada. Those sow covered peaks surrounding the lovely blue lake make the place absolutely breathtaking!

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