“A stiff climb leads to great views atop McHugh Peak!”
— Abe H
Parking at the McHugh Creek Trailhead requires a $5 fee or an Alaska State Parks Pass. Park in the lower lot outside the gate if you intend to be there past 9pm. They do close the gate every night.
While the normal route up to the southwest ridge is being redefined through the wildfire zone, you want to traverse east along the McHugh Lake Trail
until you reach the opening of the first bowl. There, if you start heading directly upwards, you'll come across the well-defined singletrack, which marks the start of this trail, that climbs steeply up the tundra to the rocky ridge. Once on the ridgeline, you are rewarded with views into the Anchorage Bowl, as well as the Turnagain Arm view you had on the journey up.
Continue northeast along the ridge for nearly two miles until you see the finger rock formation. An easy scramble up the formation is required to reach the true summit.
This trail has a black diamond rating due to some route finding in the wildfire zone, steep grades, and minor scrambling at the summit.
Other routes up to McHugh Peak include the north ridge from Bear Valley and east ridge from Rabbit Lake (requires logistics). The northwest ridge is not recommended due to access concerns.