Easily one of the most popular trailheads in Chugach State Park, the South Fork Eagle River trailhead ushers you into a broad, glacier-carved valley dotted with a couple of lovely lakes. The 12-mile hike to Eagle and Symphony Lakes is by far the most popular trail here — if you don’t want to contend with crowds (by Alaska standards, anyway) go during the week or in the wee hours of the morning.
Both that trail and the less-traveled Hanging Valley trail (also about 12 miles) are equally delightful for dayhiking and backpacking. If 12 miles sounds too long for you, strolling down to the bridge over South Fork Eagle River (pictured below) is only a couple of miles one way.
The South Fork trailhead was recently enlarged, but it’s still nowhere near large enough to handle the volume of traffic. Unfortunately, there is no nearby alternative if the trailhead is full. Make sure to obey posted “No Parking” signs along the road!
- GPS Coordinates: N 61º13.969′ W 149º27.388′
- Fee: $5 or Chugach State Park parking pass
- Trails: Eagle & Symphony Lakes, Hanging Valley, intersects with Rendezvous Ridge
- Driving Directions: From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway northeast. Take the Eagle River/Hiland Road exit. RIGHT on Hiland Road. Stay on Hiland Road through numerous name changes until it dips down and crosses the river. RIGHT on South Creek Road. RIGHT on West River Drive.
Pictured: South Fork Eagle River. I can’t walk past this river without stopping to take a picture.