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This coastal trail offers 11 miles (18 kilometers) of paved walking, skiing, biking and in-line skating heaven. It also provides unbelievable sunset views. The trail, built in honor of one of the city's former mayors and the former governor, is joined by many side trails that come from the midtown and south Anchorage districts. Along the way are mile and trail markers and, at Westchester Lagoon (one mile south of downtown), built-in fitness centers with pull-up bars, sit-up benches and general fitness information.
Every day, spring to fall, more than 24 million gallons of rushing water comes through Ship Creek. It is a pristine creek in which salmon spawn. The viewing platform offers visitors an opportunity to watch salmon run while fishermen attempt to hook them. Remember, to fish in this creek, as anywhere else, you must have the appropriate fishing license. For now, despite regular discussions about developing it with displays and underwater creek bed viewing, the creek remains untouched except for the wooden viewing platform.
This 110-acre (44.5 hectares) garden includes native perennials, an enclosed herb garden and an outdoor rock garden. Created in 1991 by volunteers, the garden has become an educational resource as well as a stunning showcase of Alaskan plants and wildflowers. Paths throughout allow for easy travel and a 1.2-mile hike provides views of the Chugach Mountains, a natural wetland and nearby Campbell Creek. One unusual feature is a still-used dog-mushing trail that travels through the garden. For the kids, ask to borrow a free Discovery Duffel from the garden store, packed with games and activities that tie in to the exhibits. Guided tours are available upon request.
Kincaid Park is home to the city's largest moose population, but bipeds also enjoy the beauty of this former glacial area. With more than 1,400 acres (6.1 square kilometers), this wooded park has trails that wind throughout. Many interpretive sites and frequent postings allow for navigation through this beautiful, hilly place. You may access the park either from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail or by Raspberry Road. There is a large interpretive visitor's center available and many wide open areas where festivals are held. These trails are home to local and national skiing competitions and have also hosted Olympic tryouts.
A protected wetland, this no-fee 2,300-acre viewing area is just south of the city and has a long, raised boardwalk from which you may access the wetland without disturbing the birds. Some of the varieties seen from this viewing platform are the Pacific Loon, American Wigeon, Canada Goose, Greater Scaup, Canvasback, Goldeneye Species, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Short-Billed Dowitchers, Wandering Tattler and many more. A spotting scope and volunteer bird enthusiast are typically available during park hours. Note: no dogs allowed. Another location for birders is near the airport at Lake Spenard.
Go east on O'Malley, right at Hillside Drive, left at Upper Huffman to Glen Alps and into the parking lot for this trailhead. The total driving route is 12 miles from downtown and the hiking trail is about three miles round trip. Rated by some as easy, and others as difficult, in 1.5 miles you will gain 1,252 feet and experience short periods of "scrambling." Views from this peak are of the Alaska Range, Cook Inlet, Turnagain Arm and Anchorage; don't forget your camera.