The Alaska State Fair has ended, and with it, the summer is drawing to a close. The Mat-Su Valley has had a fantastic summer, and it's turning into a beautiful fall as well. Before the snow hits, make sure you get out and enjoy one last memorable hike. Whether it's an extended backpacking trip or a quick day hike, the crispness in the air and the changing colors of the leaves isn't to be missed.
Let's start with the most obvious here. Hatcher Pass is a hiker's paradise, and there are literally trails shooting in every direction. Before the gate over the top closes, try Summit Lake. Reed Lakes Trail is one of our favorites, for both long and short hikes. Or, try Gold Cord or Gold Mint trails. Even if you aren't into hiking, a fall trip to Hatcher Pass is worth it just for the views of the Valley below.
Take a quick trip up the Butte, located on the Old Glenn Highway, for incredible views of the Matanuska Valley below. Fall is a great time for this trip, because the changing colors and the farmland below the Butte just pops with color. This is a fun one for families - it's challenging getting up the steps to the top, but it's easy enough that everybody can do it together.
Talkeetna Lakes Park
This trail is about a mile before downtown Talkeetna, and is a 3 1/2 mile trail that goes around X Lake. It's very accessible and another great options for families with small children, because there is no elevation gain or rough terrain. There are log benches with great views of the Alaska Range. If you do this hike, however, make sure to be aware of wildlife in the area and take precautions.
K'esugi Ken Campground
This campground, located at Mile 134.5 Parks Highway, has several trails that offer spectacular views of the Alaska Range, and since the busy summer season is over, it's a great place to camp during the fall. Trails are interconnected and offer access to Kesugi Ridge for experienced hikers. However, there is a quarter-mile, ADA-accessible loop trail from the main campground that has a beautiful view of Denali and the Alaska Range.
Sheep Mountain Trails
Sheep Mountain Lodge has 12 miles of interconnected trails that are ideal for skiers in the winter, but before the snow flies, try these trails out for hiking. You can stay at the lodge or just head out from the parking lot. During the fall, there are spectacular views of the Matanuska Glacier area, and a definite crispness in the air. Stop in for a hearty breakfast before heading out.