Turnagain Arm Trails
Brochure and Map of the Turnagain Arm Trails at Chugach State Park (SP) in Alaska. Published by Alaska State Parks.
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Photo courtesy of Nat Wilson This state historic site features a restored house and outbuildings that were part of a railroad section camp. Today the house serves as the Chugach State Park headquarters. Alaska State Parks Solstice at McHugh Creek Photo courtesy of Ted Raynor tedraynor.photoshelter.com Potter Section House From 1915 to 1918, crews blazed the Turnagain Arm section of the Alaska Railroad. They blasted more than 30 miles of rock and built long bridges along the section. Some work along the arm cost a whopping $200,000 per mile! Alaska Railroad In 1896, a year before the famous Klondike Gold Rush, a stampede brought over 3,000 prospectors to this area. They mined creeks flowing into Turnagain Arm and started the first gold rush towns in Southcentral Alaska. Gold! Captain Cook sailed into the Cook Inlet in 1778 in search of the Northwest Passage, but had to “turn again.” He named the water body “River Turnagain.” Northwest Passage The earliest evidence of humans along Turnagain Arm was found at Beluga Point, which was used as a hunting lookout by Native Alaskans. They traversed the arm in canoes and kayaks to trade with one another and access fishing and hunting sites. “Chugach State Park” on Facebook email@example.com Chugach State Park Headquarters Potter Section House 18620 Seward Hwy Anchorage, AK 99516 (907) 345-5014 www.alaskastateparks.org For More Information in Chugach State Park Turnagain Arm Trails First People Turnagain Arm History Welcome to Wildlife Welcome The southern end of Chugach State Park is defined by the Turnagain Arm. This picturesque slice of Alaska features towering Penguin Peak, views of the Kenai Mountains across the water, and a rare, wave-like tidal bore that sweeps across the arm twice a day. With rolling bike paths, heart-pounding hikes, rock and ice climbing, and fantastic fishing, Turnagain Arm is one of the most diverse areas to recreate in Alaska. Area Highlights Camping Located at milepost 101 of the Seward Highway, Bird Creek Campground offers: fishing, hiking, camping, and wildlife viewing. Campers can enjoy spectacular sunsets, whale watching, and convenient access to bike paths. Campsites are equipped with fire rings, picnic tables, and nearby water and latrines. Turnagain Arm’s variety of landscapes and environments are home to diverse Alaskan wildlife including Dall’s sheep, bears, bald eagles, and marmots. You can spot beluga whales cresting above the surf or see moose calving areas near McHugh Creek. Make noise when rounding corners so you don’t surprise wildlife on the trail. Bring a camera with plenty of zoom and don’t get too close! Trails Turnagain Arm is home to some of the most popular and scenic trails in Chugach State Park including the Bird Ridge Trail, Indian to Girdwood bike path, and secluded Falls Creek Trail. Explore the map inside and find your next adventure. For more information visit www.alaskatrails.org. Biking Bird to Gird Photo courtesy of Tim Woody Fishing Bird Creek is a popular location for anglers looking to catch silver, pink, and chum salmon in season. Bull mooseand Dall’s sheep at McHugh Creek Photos courtesy of Ted Raynor tedraynor.photoshelter.com Beluga whales in Turnagain Arm Background photo courtesy of Benjamin Wager Fishing at Bird Creek Trails Indian to Girdwood Bike Path Turnagain Arm Trail Access: Indian, Bird, Bird Creek Campground, Bird Point, Girdwood Travel Means: Foot, bike, ski, ADA accessible Distance: 13.3 miles one way Elevation Gain: 300 feet Access: Potter, McHugh Creek, Rainbow, and Windy Corner trailheads Travel Means: Foot Distance: 9.5 miles one way (Potter-McHugh: 3.4 miles, McHugh-Rainbow: 4.2 miles, RainbowWindy: 1.9 miles) Elevation Gain: 200-1,000 feet Penguin Peak Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Following a support route created during the 1910s to aid construction of the Alaska Railroad, this trail meanders above the Seward Highway and offers sweeping views of Turnagain Arm. Thanks to its southern exposure, this is one of the first snow-free trails in the spring. McHugh & Rabbit Lakes Trail Access: McHugh Creek Trailhead (MP 112) Travel Means: Foot Distance: 6.4 miles one way to Rabbit Lake Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet Indian Valley Trail Access: Indian Creek Trailhead (MP 103) Travel Means: Foot, ski Distance: 6.3 miles one way to Indian Creek Pass Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet This paved bike path parallels the Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad where the rugged Chugach Mountains meet the water. The trail offers rest stops, interpretive panels, and countless points of interest. Pump up your tires and spend a day exploring Turnagain Arm the easy way. This trail wanders through a beautiful old-growth forest and crosses Indian Creek several times on a gradual climb to a panoramic alpine landscape. In winter, this route comprises part of the “Arctic to Indian” ski traverse. The southern end of the Powerline Trail is also accessible from this trailhead. Bird Point Wayside This trail travels through cottonwood and aspen trees and alpine tundra. The area around Rabbit Lake offers secluded backcountry camping and is a perfect base camp for a weekend adventure. Ground fires are prohibited—bring a campstove. Bird Ridge Trail Access: Bird Ridge Trailhead (MP 102 and Bird Creek access MP 101.5) Travel Means: Foot Distance: 2.5 miles one way Elevation Gain: 3,400 feet This popular hike ascends past the timberline to Bird Ridge Point and offers exceptional views of Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains. Make sure to bring proper footwear and plenty of water for this strenuous uphill hike. Photos of Rabbit Lake (above) and McHugh Creek Falls (right), courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Bird Creek Trails Access: Bird Valley Trailhead (MP 100.5) Travel Means: Foot, bike, ski, horseback, ATV, snowmachine Distance: 13.2 miles total in lower valley; ATV and bike access ends 4 miles up the valley Elevation Gain: 400 feet Falls Creek Trail Access: Falls Creek Trailhead (MP 105.6) Travel Means: Foot Distance: 2.7 miles one way Elevation Gain: 2,900 feet This steep climb traces tumbling Falls Creek through the woods and ends near a small lake at the head of a wide alpine valley. For experienced scramblers, Falls Creek Trailhead also offers access to South Suicide Peak overlooking McHugh and Rabbit lakes. Know Before You Go Fees Fees are charged for the use of some developed facilities in Chugach State Park. Fees can be paid at the time of use, or frequent visitors can save money by purchasing an annual parking pass online at www.alaskastateparks.org. Learn Outdoor Skills This brochure does not tell you everything you need to know about venturing into the Chugach. Get informed, take a class, or bring an experienced friend. Tell a friend where you’re going, who you’re going with, and when you’ll return. This is VERY important if something unexpected happens. This network of trails allows you to explore the lower valley surrounding Bird and Penguin creeks by foot, bike, horseback, or ATV. Trails to Bird Pass and Penguin Peak can be accessed from the Bird Valley Trailhead, and Bird Creek Falls can be seen at the west end of the trail system. Trails for skiing and snowmachining make this area a yearround attraction. Photo courtesy of Frank Kovalchek Turnagain Arm’s mudflats may invite exploring, but their surface can suddenly become like quicksand, trapping people and animals in the rapidly rising tide. Stay off of the mudflats. ATVs are a fun way to get around in designated areas. Kn ik Ar m Trailside interpretive panels enhance your experience along the accessible Indian to Girdwood Bike Path. Chugach State Park Anchorage Area of detail Turn a gain Legend Roads Scenic Viewpoint Trails Ranger Station Railroad Camping Park Boundary Fishing Trailhead Biking Snowmachine ATV Windy Corner Arm