The Lure of a Mountain Peak I fell in love with my house immediately, thanks to the 6,398-foot-tall Pioneer Peak jutting into the sky behind it. Pioneer looked like Alaska incarnate to me. It dominated my view, rising abruptly from the flat valley floor as the kind of peak you might see if you look up “mountain” in the dictionary. Over nearly five years of living in my home, I tried once, twice, five times to make it to the top of the mountain that loomed above my house. Each time, I fell short. Then, one bright morning in September 2021 after a full summer of strenuous hikes and runs, my husband and I set out for a hike on the Pioneer Trail. We started early, with cool temps leaving dew on leaves underfoot. We climbed at an unhurried but steady pace, gaining elevation as the sun rose higher into…
Essential Alaska Gear Whether you’re confronting a curious bear outside your tent at night or can’t make it out of the mountains before dark, a good headlamp is a vital part of any Alaska backcountry kit. I bring two headlamps on longer adventures in case one gets broken, lost, or just quits working—which happens more than I’d like to admit. While there’s everything from cheap and quick-to-break models to expensive and large floodlights on the market, the Princeton Tec Vizz Headlamp is a good middle-of-the-pack option that was perfect for everything I needed. Made in the USA with a lifetime warranty, it’s lightweight and offers a relatively long burn time. It fits comfortably, even when you have a Scandinavian bobble-head like me, and it’s easy to use. Other headlamps I’ve tried have stopped working due to moisture issues. I am excessively sweaty and live in southeast Alaska where we locals…
Photo of Virgin Creek Falls courtesy Paxson Woelber. Take advantage of snowmelt in the early summer to see these waterfalls at their peak flow. Thunderbird Falls These 200-foot falls are impressive to view and easy to access. Just north of Eagle River, the trail starts with a climb of about 100 feet elevation gain, then levels out for a one-mile walk to a viewing platform. The trail continues to the base of the falls for those seeking more up-close adventure. Virgin Creek Falls Head south from Anchorage to Girdwood for this hike. The half-mile trail starts in a neighborhood and passes through lush forest to the small cascade. Continue past the falls to reach the top of Max’s Mountain. Serenity Falls Accessing these falls is an all-day journey. It’s a 13-mile trek along the Eklutna Lakeside Trail to views of these falls that twist hundreds of feet down a mountain…
Our gear editor says these freeze-dried meals are the best he’s tasted. The first time he tried them they tasted like real gourmet meals.
The Alaska Long Trail is a proposed 500-mile trail from Fairbanks to Seward. It’s being built right now, piece by piece.
The Alaska Long Trail is a proposed trek that would emulate other long trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
Gear editor Bjorn Dihle recommends a dry daypack for daily use that is made in Alaska and withstands the test of harsh southeast conditions.
Discover Kodiak launched Adjust Your Altitude in 2019, a hiking challenge encouraging people to summit a few of the island’s peaks.
Bjorn Dihle highly recommend this pack for outdoorsy parents or people who want to get a good baby gift for a parent-to-be who loves the woods and mountains.
Alaska magazine asked a few prominent Alaskans from various segments of our community to weigh in on their favorite
activities, libations, and destinations in the state.