THINK OF HIKING in Alaska and steep treks up craggy mountains come to mind, maintaining careful footing on ridges and days-long journeys in untouched backcountry. Whoa - settle down! Alaska's trails aren't all meant for Denali climbers in training. Because sometimes you want to push a stroller in nature, here are five Alaskan hikes to do for the scenery, exercise and fresh air...
1. In Juneau, try the flat-out beautiful Kaxdigoowu Heen Dei trail.
"A wheelchair-accessible trail that follows the Mendenhall River greenbelt area, starting at Brotherhood Bridge off Glacier Highway. The name is Tlingit for "going back clearwater trail." Expect a lot of traffic, including some bikes and horses, on this zero-elevation-gain hike. The trail features access to fishing holes in Montana Creek, vivid wildflowers including Siberian Irises, and scenic overlooks." (Source)
2. Great scenery outside Anchorage at Thunderbird Falls Trail.
At mile 25 of the Glenn Highway, take the Thunderbird Falls exit to access an easy, 1-mile hike much of which takes place on a boardwalk. "Birch forest on steep hillside overhanging Eklutna Canyon. Views of 200 foot high Thunderbird Falls." (Source)
3. Urban Anchorage's Coastal Trail offers 10+ miles of paved strolling.
For gorgeous views of Knik Arm, Cook Inlet, Westchester Lagoon, Sleeping Lady and guaranteed bird sightings, get on the Coastal Trail with your stroller or bike trailer. All paved, you can hop on this trail from three points - from the South access descend from Kincaid Park to the coast, from the North access start downtown on 2nd Avenue, or start in the Middle at the Point Woronzof overlook where you can spy both gorgeous sunsets and spot low-flying planes. (Source)
4. The Eagle River Nature Trail makes for a great day trip.
At the end of 12-mile Eagle River Road (about 40 miles from Anchorage), you'll come to the log cabin visitor center at the Eagle River Nature Center. A number of trails start behind the building - try the easy 3/4-mile Rodak Nature Trail that leads to a beaver and salmon viewing deck, or opt for a longer stroll on the 3-mile Albert Loop trail if it's not too muddy. (Source)
5. Calypso Orchid Nature Trail near UAF is for botany lovers.
This exotic-sounding loop near UAF campus, Creamer's Field and Georgeson Botanical Gardens gets its name from the orchids that bloom along the trail in spring. Just under a mile, take it slow to read all the interpretive signs. If you want more trail afterward - check out the Vireck Nature trail on the UAF campus. (Source)
Have fun and as always, be Bear Aware!