It was Doyle's article and photos that prompted me to add Bird Ridge
to my list of new places to hike this summer. Although I didn't find much
about this trail in all the Anchorage and Chugach State Park literature I've
collected, there is plenty of information online.
Today was the perfect day weather-wise to do it so after walking
around Potter's Marsh this morning (see previous entry), I drove a little farther east on the
Seward Hwy. to MP 102 and parked at the trailhead:
What's unusual about this photo
of Seward Hwy. eastbound is that I was able
to take a picture with so little
traffic at 10:30 this morning!
There is room for 20-25 vehicles
at the Bird Ridge TH.
This is the first hike I've done in this part of Chugach State Park.
The others have been farther north in the Glen Alps, Eagle River, and
Eklutna Lake areas.
Doyle's detailed description of the trail forewarned me to
expect steep grades, loose rocks, and braided trails. That was helpful
to know but it didn't make the trail any easier for me to hike! That's
why I took Cody instead of Casey with me. I can hike with him off-leash
and worry less about sliding on loose rocks.
In spite of that, I did manage a hard fall with no exuberant pup to
blame . . .
The first quarter
mile is an easy-peasy grade through dense foliage on pavement and a boardwalk up to the first
You don't want to brush up against large Devil's Club
leaves -- they have very sharp points!
Beyond that, prepare for a wide, then more
narrow, dirt and gravel trail with rocks, roots, and a sharp ascent.
This trail is definitely steep -- about 1,000 feet elevation gain
in the first mile, and that was mostly in the three-fourths mile after
the initial easy grade on pavement. I climbed for 1.5 miles before
turning around and had a gain of 1,800 feet, which is definitely steep
in such a short distance.
I stopped several times on the way up to let Cody rest and drink water
from my pack. He was hot from exertion even in the shade. There was
only one creek and he refused to drink from it in either direction.
YMMV -- your dog may not be as picky but this can be a hot,
dry hike so pack extra water for all two- and four-legged critters in
your hiking party.
I should have gone earlier in the day when it was cooler for Cody.
After an hour we were mostly in the sun so I turned around. I was
comfortable because of the strong breeze above most of the trees but Cody-Bear
can't take off his thick black fur coat to stay cool in direct sunshine.
The views were spectacular at all of the overlooks and above the tall
trees. I didn't get totally above all the shrubs but could see Turnagain
Arm, the Kenai Mountains, and various Chugach Mtns. to the east and
First really good view of
Turnagain Arm, with the water level still pretty high looking east
Same direction (east), higher up; you can sort of
see how steep the trail is here.
View south across Turnagain Arm to the Kenai
Above and below: I could see farther and
farther NE back into the Chugach Range as I climbed higher.
The views north and northwest were interesting, too, as I climbed higher
Because of all the false summits I'm not sure how close to the "true"
summit I got. It's hard to tell when you're ascending a mountain and can't see
Before turning around I could see that the tide was
going out, exposing more mud.
A couple websites I scanned say the summit is at 1½ miles but Doyle's article indicates
more like 2½ miles -- and apparently you can continue
along the ridge itself a lot farther than that.
OK, buddy, we're on our way back down now.
I'm pleased with the fantastic views I got in just 1½
miles. I had enough good reasons to stop there so I don't feel like I
missed anything by not going any farther.
Here are a few more photos from the descent. It was interesting
to watch the tide go out, exposing more and more mud:
This close-up near the mouth of Turnagain Arm shows
lots of mud exposed by early afternoon.
I knew the loose rocks would cause problems going
down. I did OK till about half a mile from the end when I skidded and fell
hard on my left side. It's not the first time and it won't be the last
. . .
I bled a bunch from my elbow and lower arm, and had a hematoma
the size of a golf ball. I've got a big bruise on my hip and abrasions on my
lower leg. The camera was dangling from that shoulder but didn't
sustain any damage, fortunately. (I have insurance for me, when I need
it, but not for the camera!)
Cody was off-leash the whole way
except on the paved part near the parking area. Other dogs were
off-leash, too. No way I could ever hike down that steep, rough trail with a dog
on a leash.
PIERCING THE QUIET
About noon -- still climbing up the mountain -- I could hear lots of sirens
down below on the Seward Hwy. I was still in the trees and
couldn't see the emergency vehicles but could tell they were heading
east. I assumed there was a large wreck somewhere. Yes, indeed.
When I got high enough above the trees to see the road, very little traffic was
going west toward Anchorage (toward me in the photo), while a steady stream continued east toward
Portage and the Kenai Peninsula:
I continued watching the road as I began my descent, wondering if
there would be a steady stream after traffic was allowed through again.
Nope. There was still very little traffic coming my way from the east when
I got back down to the parking lot and headed to Anchorage:
I'll talk about the wreck in the next entry. It's a sad tale and a
good warning for other visitors who drive on the Seward Hwy. I'm
thankful the accident wasn't between Bird Ridge and Anchorage or I would
have been unable to get home for many hours.
MOOSE'S TOOTH PIZZA
I don't often mention restaurants on this website because we don't eat
out much. Occasionally we find such good food or interesting
restaurants that I make an exception. This is one of those.
On the way home I took a little detour up the Old Seward Hwy. until I found
the Moose's Tooth Pub & Pizzeria at the far north end (#3300). It's an upscale pizza parlor
and brew pub that's just been voted by Trip Advisor travelers as the third
best pizza place in the whole USA (the other two are in NY and FL).
Even before this, the restaurant has gained so many customers that it
has expanded several times. It averages 3,000 customers a day in the
summer! In Anchorage, Alaska, no less!!
I was surprised -- I guess I shouldn't have been --
by how many people were there at 3:30 this afternoon. The inside
was packed and about 50 people were waiting outside to be seated. When I
found out my take-out order would be ready in only 20 minutes, I went
ahead and ordered two small pizzas with whole-wheat crusts -- one
for Jim, a different kind for me.
They were delicious! I'd like to go back when we return to Anchorage in
a couple weeks, and eat inside the restaurant for the whole
Next entry: tragic wreck on the Seward Hwy. and a
warning for all Alaska visitors
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil