Hike the South Fork Valley Trail, AK

South Fork Valley Trail

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.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Daypack
  • Good shoes
  • Camera
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Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

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.

It was Pretty.

The hike seemed a lot longer than it was. Being in AK I always expect to be climbing everything but this trail was very flat. There was pretty scenery and a cute little bridge and the lake was a cool shade a blue.


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