Hike the South Fork Valley Trail, AK

Added by Andrea Thornton

Distance: 10 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 850 ft. Tent camping in the backcountry (optional). Two lakes at the end of the trail. Boulder field. Rivers and streams.

The trail head starts out with a small climb but levels out shortly. The trail winds through forest at first, then opens up to beautiful Alaskan landscape. You cross a few bridges over small streams and rivers and hike by some turquoise ponds, then eventually come to a boulder field. It is about a mile long and can be a bit challenging for pets (broken nails, etc) but it does have areas marked by stacked rocks that show the way. The whole way the trail is clearly marked and maintained well.

Once you pass the boulders, you will come to two different lakes side by side, down in the little valley. Symphony Lake and Eagle Lake, which look different because one is glacier fed, while the other is snow melt. This makes one bright turquoise and the other a much murkier color. This is a beautiful place for lunch and to explore before heading back.

If you plan to continue hiking past the lakes, you can camp after the first 0.5 mile. This trail is open year-round, but be aware that there are a few avalanche zones, and you may want snowshoes or skis in the winter.

Getting there: Take Eagle River Loop/Hiland Drive exit off the Glenn Highway. Continue onto Hiland Drive, which veers off to the right, then follow the road up and over the South Fork of Eagle River. Just after the South Fork Bridge, take a right onto South Creek and continue to West River Drive, where you'll take a right. The parking lot is on your left and has a $5 parking fee, so bring cash.

Read More

Tags

Photography
Hiking
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Be careful

There was a fatal bear attack in this valley. The bear was never caught. There is a warning at the trailhead. Bring bear spray & travel in groups.

Hanging valleys galore

Great trail with easy access to a couple hanging valleys if you want to put some extra miles in. Two strikingly different lakes side by side make for some dramatic scenery. If you camp or have the energy for a long day then the mountain at the back of the valley (Cantata) is an epic climb. I always see sheep and the views of the inner peaks are mind blowing.

Stay Nearby

Anchorage, Alaska

Crow Pass Cabin

Overview Crow Pass Cabin is located about 500 yards off the Crow Pass Trail, which follows part of the former supply route for the Iditarod Trail. The trail is popular destination for its historic ...

From $75/night

Hope, Alaska

Swan Lake Cabin Seward

Overview Swan Lake Cabin is a rustic cabin on beautiful Swan Lake, providing access to fishing, hunting, hiking, and wildlife viewing opportunities. The cabin can be accessed by hiking, biking, s...

Hope, Alaska

Trout Lake Cabin

Overview Trout Lake Cabin is a large, rustic cabin set alongside Trout Lakeoffering a placefor visitors to come and enjoy the forests of south-central Alaska. It provides access to great fishing an...

Hope, Alaska

West Swan Lake Cabin

Overview West Swan Lake Cabin is in a very remote area on the Kenai Peninsula of south-central Alaska. Swan Lake is just steps away from the cabin, with great fishing and boating opportunities.Ther...

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike the Crow Pass National Historic Trail

    Starting at an elevation of 600 feet from the Eagle River Nature Center, the trail runs through the Eagle River Valley and climbs over Crow Pass to Girdwood.The trail follows the river for almost 12 miles before requiring a ford. Fords can be very...

    22.6 miles 3100 ft gain

  • Camp at Chugach State Park

    All trails start from the Eagle River Nature Center, located in the Chugach Forest. There are many different trails and loops (from less than a mile to 25 miles), so no matter your experience, there is a good trail for you. A trail map of the area...

    3 miles

  • Hike Mt. Baldy in Chugach State Park

    Nestled in the mountains behind Eagle River, AK is Mt. Baldy. The hike to the top is an excellent choice if your time in Alaska is limited. The trailhead begins at the end of a spacious parking lot, which also offers some impressive views if any m...

    3 miles 550 ft gain

  • Hike up Flattop Mountain

    This moderate to difficult climb starts at 2200 feet and gets progressively difficult as you get closer to the top. It will cost $5(cash or card) to park at the Glen Alps Trailhead where you will find a set of well maintained trails accessing diff...

    3.4 miles 1300 ft gain