Hike Winner Creek Gorge
Alaska › Alyeska Resort
Added by Mike Mihalik
Only 45 minutes south of Anchorage, this hike takes you through a lush forest to your final destination. You'll come to a thundering gorge and opportunity to step into a metal cage and pull yourself across on a hand tram with Glacier Creek more than 100 feet below!
Most people will start this trail behind the Hotel Alyeska and parking is available there if you're not a guest spending the night. This trail can be broken down into 3 segments and the first section is .75 miles along many sections of boardwalk. It's all very flat and keeps you dry when the surroundings are rather wet. We have seen some cool things in the past along this section - moose tracks, black bears, and an old avalanche path.
The next 1.5 miles takes you through the lush forest until you get to the Winner Creek Gorge. This section has some a few gentle hills (up and down) and as you start to descend near the river, you'll know that you're getting close. You'll then come across a bridge that takes you over Winner Creek. At this bridge, you'll get good views both directions of all the water being forced into a 15-foot narrow gorge. If you cross the bridge, you'll be able to exit off the trail and you will find some ways to get down to the water. Be very careful - there are some shady spots, but you can still get close to the water by being safe.
Once you're ready to leave the gorge, you'll only have .2 miles left until you get to the last feature - the hand tram! Glacier Creek is below and the hand tram allows you to cross this canyon in a metal cage that is 100-feet above the water. Be prepared to wait a few minutes if there are a lot of people on the trail. All you do is pull yourself across to the other side using the ropes. People doing this for the first time always want to know how hard it is - it really isn't that hard. If you are with just 1 person who can pull on a rope, you'll be fine. We usually encounter other people at the hand tram and this can come in handy. Once you're inside the cage going across, the people waiting in line can pull the ropes too and make your ride easier and faster. You do not need amazing upper body strength to do this. Just keep pulling and if you're really concerned, make sure someone stronger is inside the cage with you or at one of the ends assisting with the pull.
If you started at the hotel, you'll obviously want to turn around and go back. It's about 3 miles one-way thus making this a 6-mile trip.
If you want to do this hike, but not all the mileage, there is an alternative - drive up along Crow Creek Road and park at mile marker 2.9 and you'll find the Winner Creek Gorge Trailhead. It's only a mile to the hand tram from here, but is mostly downhill.
- Bear spray recommended if alone or in a very small group
- Solid shoes with traction (do not need to be hiking boots)
- Rain gear (it's Girdwood, you never know)
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Hiking, Mountain Biking, Photography
Spring, Summer, Autumn
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The Hand Tram is Awesome!
The hike through the trees is amazing. There is a part of the hike in the valley, that has boardwalks because it is somewhat marshy. We saw a black bear there, pretty rad. The hand tram was my favorite part for sure. It was cool to pull ourselves across the river, with the rapids underneath! If you're in Girdwood, you gotta do this hike!
It feels a lot like hiking in the redwoods. Lots of evergreens and moss. It's really beautiful and the Winner Creek Gorge is a great place for photos. The hand trolley was closed when got there in late March but should be open during the summer. You can take the bridge if needed.
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