Hiking Alaska

Alaska-the Midnight Sun in the Arctic, rain forest along the twisting coastline of the Southeast, the towering peaks and glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska, alpine ridges rolling like ocean waves across the Interior-it’s all waiting for hikers to explore. Hiking Alaska is a comprehensive guide to the entire state, featuring 100 hikes with more than 200 optional destinations and side trips. Special sections offer information of Denali National Park and remote wildlands like Gates of the Arctic, Katmai, and Wrangell-St. Elias national parks. The text describes hikes for all ages and abilities, including tips and trips for sharing the outdoors with children. Elevation profiles, maps, natural history sidebars, and no-trace camping and safety techniques accompany detailed hike descriptions. Comparison tables help you pick a hike by length, access, and type of natural features. Author Dean Littlepage, former manager of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, has hiked, maintained, built, planned, protected, and written about trails for more than twenty-five years. His evocative photographs and intriguing natural history overviews add to this informative book. Don’t forget to pick up a copy of Hiking Alaska before you head out on your next backcountry adventure in the Great Land.

Birdshooter’s Take: This book is organized by geography with an index map showing you the exact location of each hike. That’s a major plus if you are looking for a day or overnight trip in a particular region of the state. Hiking Alaska also has a trail map which shows major roads, trailheads, and the route of the hiking trail. There are some pictures in this trail book and the material is decent with data on trail difficulty, length, elevations, and special features and attractions. There are 50 hikes in this book and it is geared to both day and overnight hikers. My Recommendation: If you do a lot of hiking all over the State of Alaska this is a good buy since it is one of the few books that covers the entire state.


Lonely Planet: Backpacking In Alaska

From the rain forests and glaciers of Southeast Alaska to the rugged mountains and tundra of the state’s vast interior, this practical guide by Alaska specialist Jim DuFresne makes Alaska’s pristine wilderness accessible to the novice and experienced hiker alike. The book includes: 1. expanded 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and updated on the trail. 2. a wide range of hikes, from day trips to backcountry pack and adventures. 3. detailed trail descriptions and two-color contour maps for every hike. 4. practical advice on transportation, accommodations, equipment and safety special illustrated section on Alaska’s flora and fauna

Birdshooter’s Take: I used an earlier edition of this book during two trips to Alaska in the 1990’s. The book covers the entire state and is a major plus to a non-resident of Alaska since it recommends hiking and backpacking trails but also includes traveling details for transportation, lodging, and services in each region of the State. My Recommendation: This is the book to get if you are not a resident in Alaska and only plan to spend a week or two in the area.


50 Hikes in Alaska’s Chugach State Park

Includes nearly all the hikeable trails and peaks in the park, from popular Flattop Mountain to rarely seen valleys: – For all ages and abilities, and from two-mile weeknight strolls to multiday backpacking trips and scrambles. – Detailed driving directions to the trailheads. – Maps and photos for every hike. – Information on flora and fauna, history, and geology of the park. (A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Friends of the Eagle River Nature Center, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the natural history and recreational use of Chugach State Park.)

Birdshooter’s Take: There are quite a few books on hikes in Alaska, but this one is good if you do a lot of trips near Anchorage or the Seward area in the Chugach State Park. (You might also consider the Chugach National Forest which is nearby and has some great trails.) My Recommendation: If you don’t want to venture too far from Anchorage and want some great hiking and backpacking experiences, the Chugach State Park is easy to access and has some great terrain. This book provides all the details you need. However, if you are not a resident of the State and only plan to spend a week in the area, you are probably better off with the Lonely Planet’s Hiking In Alaska.


Denali: The Complete Guide

DENALI: THE COMPLETE GUIDE is the most comprehensive guide to one of North America’s best-known parks. This sweeping reference to Denali National Park and Preserve details in words, pictures, and maps, all the information the traveler needs for a great Denali experience. Explore Denali by bus, car, train, bike, boat, or foot. Raft whitewater rapids, pick berries, climb the continent’s highest mountain, backpack through forest and tundra, watch grizzlies dig for ground squirrels, share a ridgetop with Dall sheep, attend sled-dog demonstrations, go on ranger-guided hikes, or camp in solitude within glacially carved valleys. In the winter, ski, snowshoe, or drive sled-dog teams across the darkened, frozen landscape and stand beneath the dancing northern lights. From the natural history of Mount McKinley (called Denali, “The High One,” by Natives) and the surrounding region, to the human history of the mountain and the park, to the many climbs, both victorious and tragic, DENALI: THE COMPLETE GUIDE captures the mystique of this fascinating place. Readers will love the particulars about south Denali, the backcountry of the park, the flora and fauna of the area, and Denali in winter. Even casual travelers will find in-depth information about the entrance area and Denali Park road, including checklists for mammals, birds, and plants. “The beauty of Sherwonit’s writing style is not flash, but rather a subtlety that renders him nearly invisible. A journalist by trade, he demonstrates considerable skill in blending voluminous historical detail into highly readable prose, placing the right quotation in just the right spot. In this way he seamlessly weaves text, quotes, and journal excerpts into a wonderfully homogenous whole. The overall effect makes the reader feel like an eyewitness to the events.”-Joseph Ferguson, Climbing magazine

Birdshooter’s Take: This book is more geared to the general outdoor enthusiast than the hiker and backpacker, and it is also very specific to Denali. My Recommendation: Get this book if you plan to spend most of your vacation in Denali National Park and want a mix of outdoor activities. If you plan to explore other parts of the State (ie. the Chugach National or State Forest) and are focused on hiking and backpacking, then consider some of the other books listed here.


55 Ways To The Wilderness In Southcentral Alaska

This is a MUST HAVE book for any visitor or Alaska resident who wants to get out and about and enjoy the outdoors in this part of Alaska. Those of us who have lived in Alaska for many years still use this book every summer for our day trip or weekend adventure planning, as well as for longer trips. I give this book as a gift to both summer visitors and people who have just moved here. It is accurate, clearly written, has good maps, easy directions to the trail heads and has the necessary safety information for folks not used to things like mosquitoes, bears, and stream crossings. I get the latest edition every time it comes out to check out the most up to date trail information.

Birdshooter’s Take: There are quite a few books on hikes in Alaska, but this one is good if you do a lot of trips in the Southcentral area. My Recommendation: If you visit Southcentral Alaska frequently, this is the book to get. If you are not a resident of the State, however, and only plan to spend a week in the area, you are better off with the Lonely Planet’s Hiking In Alaska.


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