Chugach (“CHEW gatch”) State Park is the third-largest state park in the United States, preserving 495,404 acres of mountains and forests in and around the city of Anchorage, Alaska. We were startled by this large moose who emerged from the forest and demanded the trail on which we were hiking. We gladly yielded the trail, putting a tree between the moose and us. Moose can be aggressive toward dogs, and our dogs seemed to sense this because they remained completely quiet.
The 250-mile-long Chugach Mountain Range are a dominant part of the landscape in the state park. In this photo, Darby, Shadow and Theresa are sitting on the rocks along the Turnagain Arm waiting for the bore tide.
We climbed up the steep trail to Table Top, a bald about 1,000 feet above the Turnagain Arm. There we met a nice man who lived in Anchorage but normally spent the summer out to sea. Even though it was only 72 degrees, he was sweating profusely and said, “These hot days are why I normally leave town in the summer.” He reminded us of the Peanuts character Pig Pen, but instead of a cloud of dust, there was a cloud of gnats and flies buzzing around him.
We hiked through the pretty Eagle River Nature Center, which provides information, educational programs, and outdoor recreation to its 40,000 visitors annually.
Originally this was the Paradise Haven Lodge, essentially a restaurant and bar that was very popular with the locals. The property also included a racetrack for motorcycles and snowmobiles. Alaska State Parks purchased the property in 1980 and opened the nature center the following year.
The ducks loved the pond at the Eagle River Nature Center.
The ground along Eagle River was covered with white “wizard flowers” that start in a twisted cone and explode in a puff of white.
Shadow and Theresa stand along the west shore of Eklutna Lake, a 7-mile-long lake that delivers 30 million gallons of water to Anchorage residents. That’s nearly 127 gallons of water per person per day, about 80% of which comes from Eklutna Lake.
Eklutna Valley was carved by the Eklutna Glacier. When the glacier receded, it left behind this impressive lake. Click on the photo above and see if you can spot the float plane in the sky.
Chugach State Park is a prime example of grassroots conservation. In the 1960s, suburban sprawl was starting to encroach on the Chugach Mountains above Anchorage. Homestead sites were popping up and blocking traditional access roads to the mountains. When the state planned to sell logging rights in Indian and Bird valleys, Anchorage citizens banded together in 1969 to form the Chugach State Park Ad Hoc Committee and gain support from the community to preserve the land. Just one year later, the Alaska governor signed the bill to create Chugach State Park.
We hiked high above Eklutna Lake for an impressive view of its turquoise glacier-fed water. There is a hydroelectric dam and power plant at the east end of the lake that provides about 3 percent of the area’s energy.