Continued from the previous page.
MY REWARD: WANDERING
AROUND THE SUMMIT
I was one happy hiker when I reached the summit
-- yay!!!! The views and sense of accomplishment were worth the effort and minor angst of
getting up there.
Above and below: looking east toward more
mountains in the Chugach Range
Above and below: looking south toward
Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Peninsula
Above and below: more views toward Turnagain
View west across Anchorage, Cook Inlet, and the
volcanic peaks in the southern Alaska Range
Looking east across Flattop's summit to other
mountains in the Chugach Range
View NE toward the Powerline Trail in the valley
I spent about an hour on top of the mountain, just slowly walking around
admiring the views in every direction.
I sat near the high point out of the wind and ate my sandwich and a Clif bar,
then asked a young man to take my picture with Mts. Foraker (L) Denali (R) in the
I don't have a selfie stick and rarely take photos of myself on trails
but this is one I wanted.
I wandered over to the southeast side of the summit and was surprised to see
another parking area down below -- and what looked like a much
easier trail coming up from it:
Rats! Wish I'd known about that!!
I watched a young couple (next photo) descend that way from Flattop. I wondered how
far that would be from the Glen Alps trailhead . . .
I later found out that it's a LONG way via dirt and paved roads, so it's a
good thing I didn't take that trail down. Because there is so little
parking on that side I'm convinced locals don't advertise it to
visitors. The directions I later found on the internet to reach
this parking area (Rabbit Creek) are confusing but I'll attempt to find it
when we return to Anchorage later this summer.
As I continued walking CCW around the wide summit I wondered if a trail
continued down the eastern side of the mountain to the wide Powerline
Trail in the valley. I could see a pass between Flattop and the adjacent
mountain but from the summit I couldn't see the trail going down that
Three years ago Jim and I didn't notice these trails and I haven't read of any other
ways to get to the summit. I was very happy to find a couple
By that time I was determined to find a different way down
the mountain than the trail I'd just come up. It was more gnarly than I had
remembered, and my knees and balance are worse than they were three
FINDING AN ALTERNATIVE WAY DOWN
As I was pondering my options for a more pleasant descent, a group of three
40-somethings and a black Lab came hiking down the trail toward me
I asked them about the trailhead I saw to the south and they said they were
parked down there. Yes, it's an easier trail than the more popular one from Glen
Alps but it's a very long way to get back to my truck from there and
they didn't have room to give me a ride unless I wanted to ride in the
back of their pickup with the dog. No, thanks.
So that option was definitely out for today.
I also asked them if there was a trail going down the east side of the
mountain to the powerline. Yes, one woman said. It's her friend's
favorite way to descend to loop back to Glen Alps. (Her friend must be
part mountain goat!)
I followed the hikers down to the intersection with the trail that goes down
to Rabbit Creek and the woman pointed the way for me to go over the
They went thataway to Rabbit Creek and I went this
way to the powerline.
Sure enough, there
was a trail and there were no boulders to negotiate like the trail I'd
Instead, there was a steep descent on loose dirt and rocks all the way down to
the Powerline Trail. Oh, my! For me, that's like walking on ball
The only way I could safely descend the first couple hundred feet of
steep trail was to walk very carefully sideways in the tundra and do some
deliberate sliding on my butt when I was on the trail itself.
That was as rough on my hands as my knees.
The descent to the Powerline Trail was a little
over 1,200 feet from the summit
and 1,035 from the saddle where I parted from the
You can see that this slope (on the R) is steep;
this view looks SE down the power line valley.
Part way down I tried to traverse the side of the mountain northbound (left
side of next photo) while descending more gradually than the trail going
mostly straight down, but I couldn't tell if it was going to connect to the
After about a quarter mile I turned back toward the narrow trail, descending
through low sub-alpine plants, and got back to to it shortly before it
connected to the wide Powerline Trail down in the valley.
from part way down the steep trail
Almost there; the slope is more gentle as the
narrow descent trail approaches the Powerline Trail.
Looking at my GPS track later, I don't think I could have connected to
the Blueberry Trail like I wanted by traversing the mountainside. It was
farther than I thought and there was too much thick
brush in that direction.
POWERLINE & BACK TO THE TRAILHEAD
I was glad to get down to the Powerline Trail without falling. Like the main
trail up from Glen Alps, it would be easier for me to ascend the steep,
narrow trail to the saddle on the eastern side of Flattop than it was to
I had to hike northwest on the Powerline Trail for a little over a mile before
a trail to Glen Alps veered off to the west.
Made it down! This view looks south. If you follow
the Powerline Trail a bunch
more miles SE, you'll end up in Indian Valley on
Turnagain Arm. I went the other way.
Heading north and back uphill a couple hundred feet
Looking south again; there really is a power line
Note the fluffy cotton grass above and below.
There were more people and
dogs on this wide trail, hiking, running, and cycling. It is used to
access several other trails going to Williwaw Lakes, Wolverine Peak,
and other popular locations in the Chugach Mountains.
After about a mile I
turned left (west) on one of the access trails leading back to the two
parking areas at Glen Alps. By that time of afternoon, both large lots were filled
I did mention that
Flattop is the most popular hike in Alaska, didn't I? And there are
several other great hikes you can do from here, too. Get to Glen Alps by
8 or 9 AM in the summer and you should be OK.
I ended up doing a total of 3,412 feet elevation gain and loss in 5.22
miles. If you go up and down the main trail it's about 3.4 miles
roundtrip. That doesn't include wandering around the large, relatively
I wanted more distance than that, which is why I did the overlook trail
first. Between that and descending a different way, I did get more
Scenic view of Turnagain Arm on the road going back down to Anchorage
Despite my grumbling, I did mostly enjoy this hike on Flattop. However,
if I ever go up this mountain again I want to do it from the small Rabbit
Creek trailhead parking lot on the south side of the mountain
so the descent will be easier on my knees and I'll have less chance of
This was the last of
my major hikes while we were in Anchorage. We'll be back one or two more
times this summer and I'll try some other trails I haven't hiked before. Stay
Next entries: camping and hiking at Grand View RV
Park on the Glenn Hwy., Jim's Fireweed 400 bike race, and photos
of the Matanuska Glacier
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil