“A stunning route through the temperate rain forest that ends on an alpine ridge surrounded by massive peaks.
— Joel Chitwood
River/Creek · Waterfall · Wildflowers
This trail is for winter use only when snow covered.
This trail follows Chugach Powder Guides snowcat route through the temperate rainforest, and takes takes you up a ridge that makes you feel you are right up next to the 6000+ foot peaks that tower above the Girdwood valley. The lower portions take you through beautiful meadows with mountain views. The end of the trail towers above the Winner Creek Trail
below, and on clear days, the route commands an amphitheater-like view of several hanging glaciers, Mount Alyeska, and an insider's view into neighboring twenty-mile valley.
The trail can be an excellent winter route, and the lower portions are frequented by bikers and cross country skiers. The upper portion is well packed by snowcat during winters when there is enough snow for Chugach Powder Guides to operate. The trail is certainly not exempt from avalanche danger; know what slopes can slide before venturing out, especially above the timberline. Snowcat drivers are pretty friendly guys, but they do need trail users to step to the side of the trail when the are passing through.
During the spring and summer, the trail can be very primitive, passing through marsh and mud and fallen trees coated by thick carpets of moss. There are several fairly steep sections of the trail, no direction signs, and it can be difficult to find the trail when it opens up into some of the stunning meadows that it crosses through. But there are very few routes above the timberline in this area of Alaska, and very few roads or trails offer the views that this ridge offers!
Note: this route splits as soon as it begins to open up in the subalpine. To the right, a snow cat route climbs up Notch Mountain. A1 ridge takes off to the left. Both routes are well worth the effort, although A1 ridge may be safer during the winter.
This trail can be accessed via the new Arlberg Road extension. But if the parking lot at the end of the road fills up, park at the large Alyeska Resort parking lots and make your way down the paved path to the end of Arlberg road. During the winter, look for the sign that indicates the cat track; during the summer, start at the trailhead from the parking lot and take the first left, about 0.1 miles down the trail.
Flora & Fauna
Moose frequent the trail. Grizzly and black bear also live around Girdwood. Hemlock, Sitka Spruce, ferns, many beautiful mosses, and multi-colored fungus can all be found here.