Alaskan Day Hikes: Seward

Sure, it’s the biggest state in the union. But that doesn’t mean every adventure in Alaska has to be an expedition. These six day-hike-friendly trails will give you a taste of the Last Frontier’s wild beauty and still get you back in time for last call.

Jun 29, 2013
Outside Magazine
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   Photo: MaxFX/Shutterstock

Perched at the edge of Resurrection Bay at mile zero of the Iditarod Trail, this historic community teems with marine wildlife, which feeds one of the busiest fisheries in the U.S.

The Lost Lake trail climbs gradually through dense spruce forest, meadows, and hemlock groves before cresting out on an alpine ridge with a vista of the turquoise waters of Lost Lake. After cruising through the rolling terrain along the lake’s eastern shores, you’ll hook up with the Primrose Trail to make your descent. The entire loop totals about 16 miles one-way.

Trailhead:. You can hike this from either direction, but we recommend from the Lost Lake trail side since you get on the ridge sooner (= breathtaking views). Lost Lake Trail access begins at Milepost 5, Seward Highway, at Lost Lake subdivision-up gravel road follow signs to parking.  

No trip to Seward is complete without a scramble up the infamous Mount Marathon, where each year on July 4 runners from all over the world take part in the 3.1 mile suffer fest to the peak (3022’).  If you want the real racing experience, choose the official Runner’s trail, a very steep and demanding route that climbs up a rocky cliff face. For a mellower experience, opt for the slightly easier Hiker’s Trail, which switchbacks several times before reaching the mountain’s sloping spine. Either way, try to maintain your balance long enough to enjoy the astounding views of the Bay, and descend with care: Each year, several racers end up with broken bones thanks to the harrowing descent.

Getting There
Lost Lake: Access begins at milepost five, Seward Highway, at the Lost Lake subdivision. Follow signs to parking.

Mount Marathon: The Runner’s Trail begins at the end of Jefferson Street in Seward. Follow it toward the base of Mt. Marathon. Park at the Lowell creek Picnic area and begin your trek on the gravel service road beyond the gate.  

For luxury accommodations with a truly Alaskan feel, try the Seward Windsong Lodge, whose cabins have fantastic mountain views and are close the river (starts at $259). For something a little more historic, try the A Swan Nest Inn, a cozy and comfortable option convenient for exploring town (Standard room $135 from June 14 through August 18, sleeps four). 

The Resurrection Roadhouse, a mellow spot located on the river, offers delectable dishes featuring local, sustainably caught fish and range of Alaskan beers on tap. For the best cup of java in town, head to the Sea Bean Café; pick up a Marathon Bar or any of their other delicious treats.

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