HomeTrailsAlaska ATV Trails: Bears, Moose & Wild Rides

Alaska ATV Trails: Bears, Moose & Wild Rides

Alaska ATV Trails

Chugach State Park – Eklutna Lakeside Trail & Bird Valley

  • Length: 
    • Eklutna Lakeside Trail – 12.9 miles
    • Bird Valley – 4.5 miles
  • Skill Level: Easy
  • Open:
    • Eklutna Lakeside Trail – April 1 – November 30, Sun – Wed 
    • Bird Valley – April 1 – November 30
  • Fees:
    • Eklutna Lakeside Trail – $5 parking
    • Bird Valley – Free
  • Closest Town: Anchorage
  • Allowed Vehicles: < 75 inches + dry weight <800 lbs, dirt bikes are not allowed

Although Chugach State Park is only 20 minutes outside of Anchorage, getting to the ATV trailheads will take a bit longer. Plan on 50 – 60 minutes to get to the staging area.

There are only two places in Chugach State Park where off roading is permited: Eklutna Lakeside Trail and Bird Valley.

The Eklutna Lake Valley ride features stunning views of the lake surrounded my jagged peaks, steep canyon walls, the Ekluna Lake Glacier and waterfalls.

Bird Canyon travels on old logging roads with amazing mountain views, alpine meadows and Bird Creek.

You don’t have to work that hard to see wildlife in Alaska and Chugach is no exception. Keep an eye out for moose Dall sheep, mountain goats and bears.

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Both of these routes are family friendly. Depending on recent weather, there may be plenty of mud, but the route itself is easy. Some gravel and embedded larger rocks make for some bumps, but no really steep, challenging or technical terrain.

Due to their relatively close proximately to Anchorage, these are two of the most popular Alaska ATV trails.

If you don’t have your own ride, there are a few companies that offer guided tours as well as ATV rentals.

Bird Valley Brochure (with map)

Eklutna Lakeside Trail (with map)


Klutina Lake Trail

  • Length: 23 miles
  • Skill Level: Moderate
  • Open: Year round
  • Fees: None
  • Closest Town: Copper Center
  • Allowed Vehicles: OHV, ATV, UTV, Full Size, Dirt Bikes, 4- Wheel Drive Recommended

Trail starts at mile 101.5 of the Richardson Highway.

Great trail that runs along a tributary of the Klutina River that ends at the very scenic Klutina Lake.

To access the trail, you have to pass through a 60 foot easement through native owned lands. No camping or parking is allowed on this privately owned land.

There is a parking area at the end of the road where you can camp overnight for one night only to change your mode of transportation.

Most of the riding is heavily forested with some peek a boo views of mountains. You’ll be riding alongside a river which is very scenic and makes for some enjoyable riding.

A lot of little streams and runoffs pepper the trail, so there’s a lot of water riding. Of course, with water, you can also expect mud.

Although it’s not technical, the mud and water crossings do take this up to a moderate rating.

BLM: Klutina Lake Trail


Alaska ATV Trails

Eureka Trails / Mat-Su Valley

  • Length: 150 miles
  • Skill Level: Moderate/Advanced, Varied
  • Open: Year round (used by snowmobiles in winter)
  • Fees:
  • Daily Parking Pass (required at some trailheads): $5
  • Annual Parking Pass (required at some trailheads): $40
  • Closest Town: Glennallen (the Eureka Lodge is 1 hour from Glennallen)
  • Allowed Vehicles: OHV, ATV, UTV, Full Size, Dirt Bikes, 4- Wheel Drive Recommended

Located a couple hours north of Anchorage in south central Alaska, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is blessed with an abundance of trails – hiking trails, horseback riding trails, snowmobile trails, cross country ski trails and ATV trails.

Mat-Su Valley Alaska ATV Trails
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Over 2,000 miles of trails.

Since Matanuska-Susitna Borough is a mouthfull, it’s generally referred to as the Mat-Su Valley.

Covering 23,000 square miles of wild Alaska, it’s also blessed with everything that makes Alaska famous: snow capped peaks, wildlife, excellent fishing, pristine lakes, rivers and glacier valleys.

Local communites looking for economic opportunites have seen the value in providing access to outdoor enthusiasts looking for access to the backcountry.

So, they’ve cobbled together old mining routes, logging roads and historic trade routes to make up this fantastic network of routes open to outdoor enthusiast of all types.

Technically the Eureka Trails aren’t part of the borough trail system, but they’re in the same region.

This is a winter snowmobile trail system that opens to off roaders once the snow melts.

The Eureka Trail System Includes:

  • Goober Lake Trail
  • John Lake Trail
  • Old Man Trail
  • Nelchina Glacier Trail
  • Inner Loop Trail
  • Outer Loop Trail
  • Marie’s Trail
  • Four Corners to Monument
  • Willow Creek Trail
  • Cottonwood Creek Trail
  • Crooked Creek Trail
  • Alfred Creek Trail
  • Caribou Creek
  • Squaw Creek
  • Majestic Valley Trail
  • Lake Louise Route
  • Cameron Pass Trail
  • Old Nelchina to Tyone Creek
  • Little Nelchina to Tyone Creek
  • Little Nelchina to Horsepasture
  • Yacko Creek Route
  • Little Oshenta River

Some of the trails do cross private land, so it’s important to stay on the trails. Unfortunatly when people don’t respect private propery rights, owners shut off trail access and we all lose.

With 150 miles of trails, you’ll find a little bit of everything: mud, hills, rocks, climbs and water. Conditions vary by season and recent weather.

The Eureka Lodge is a good jumping off point. There’s a big parking lot a couple miles down the road from the lodge that is the most popular staging area. Parking is free here.

The Lodge is a great place to stay if you’re planning on doing some adventuring in the area. They have some RV spaces with electric, cabins, lodge rooms as well as a casual onsite restaurant.

Eureka Lodge isn’t fancy, but it’s an excellent base for some outdoor adventure. Unfortunately they’ve let their website default, so they only have a facebook page.

If you’re exploring the area and need a parking pass:  Buy Parking Pass.. There are also self pay kiosks at the trailheads if you don’t get around to buying one online.

Eureka Alaska ATV Trails 


Knik Glacier Trail

  • Length: 22 miles
  • Skill Level: Year round
  • Open: Moderate/Advanced
  • Fees:
    • Daily Parking Pass (required at some trailheads): $5
    • Annual Parking Pass (required at some trailheads): $40
  • Closest Town: Palmer
  • Allowed Vehicles: OHV, ATV, UTV, Full Size, Dirt Bikes, 4- Wheel Drive Recommended

Knik Glacier is part of the Mat-Su Valley. As the closest glacier to Anchorage, it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the region.

Of course, all this popularity comes with a downside – crowds. But, it’s not all bad news – popularity also means that there’s excellent trail access.

There are many trails throughout the Knik Glacier area. Most of them are multiuse and open to off roading.

Knik Glacier Trail is one of the busiest trails as it takes you down to the glacier which is a hughly popular destination.

Access to the glacier isn’t always guaranteed. The Knik River is always in flux, so access depends of the current mood of the river. But, either way, the end of this trail doesn’t disappoint.

If you only have time for one ride in Alaska, this is a good choice. Even by Alaska standards, it’s spectacular. The Chugach Mountains tower over the Knik River Valley making a spectacular backdrop for your ride.

Knik Glacier is a living work of art. It shifts colors and textures as it moves within the surrounding landscape.

The trail is wide and well used, so you won’t get lost. But you will get wet! Lots of water crossing and mud. Dress waterproof, warm and in layers.

Knik Glacier ATV Trails

Other trails that are part of the Knik River Public Use Area (KRPUA) include:

  • Sexton Trail
  • Trail of Envy
  • Rippy Trail
  • Chain of Lakes
  • Jim Lake Overlook Trails
  • 17B Trails
  • Maud Road Extension

You can find the jumping off point for most of these trails at Alaska.gov: Google Earth Start Points

Knik Glacier ATV Trail Head parking

To access Knik Glacier trail, you’ll park at Jim Creek Parking Area. This is a pay use parking area, so be sure to buy your parking pass online in advance or pay at the trailhead.

Knik River Public Use Area Brochure


Wrangell St. Elias National Park

  • Length: Varied
  • Skill Level: Moderate/Advanced
  • Open: Year round, but services are limited in off season
  • Fees: Free, ORV permits are required but they’re free. Available from Visitor Services @ (907) 822-7250 or at the Main Park Visitor Center in Copper Center or the Slana Ranger Station in Slana
  • Closest Town: Copper Center
  • Allowed Vehicles: ATV, SxS, UTV, Off road vehicles must be “less than 1,000 pounds curb weight, not including trailers”, no Dirtbikes, no Jeep, Truck, or Full Size Vehicles

This is a huge park with two main access roads: Nabesna Road and McCarthy Road. Nebesna Road has 6 ATV trails while McCarthy Road has 2 ATV trails.

Wrangell St. Elias National Park roads

Nabesna Road ATV Trails

Nabesna Road Alaska ATV Trails

Trails open to Recreational ORV use:

  • Trail Creek
    • Distance/Time: 5 miles / 2 –3 hours
  • Lost Creek
    • Distance/Time: 5 miles. 3 miles to Soda Lake Trailhead / 2-3 hours
  • Soda Lake Trail
    • Distance/Time: 12 miles to Soda Creek, 2.5 additional miles to Soda Lake / 4-5 hours

Trails open to subsistence ORV use:

  • Suslota Lake Trail (closed to recreational ORV use/subsistence ORV only)
    • Distance/Time: 8 miles / 4 – 6 hours  
  • Caribou Creek (closed to recreational ORV use/subsistence ORV only)
    • Distance/Time: 3.5 miles / 1 – 2 hours 
  • Reeve’s Field (closed to recreational ORV use/subsistence ORV only)
    • Distance/Time: 4.2 miles / 3 – 4 hours

Nabesna Road is an adventure in and of itself. This dirt road is lightly maintained, so the going is rough.

Unpaved and intermittently maintained by the Alaska State DOT. Rough road conditions and washouts at creek crossings are common. High clearance and 4-wheel drive is recommended.

At mile 27.8 at the Kendesnii Campground, the road goes to hell. It becomes increasingly more difficult as it progresses, so if you’re not feeling up to the challenge, this is a good place to turn around.

There are three creeks that flow across the road. In the summer they’re generally not running, but if there is water present, get out and check condition before you decide to plow through.


McCarthy Road ATV Trails

McCarthy Road Alaska ATV Trails
  • Nugget Creek Trail
  • Kotsina Trail
    • Distance/Time: 20 miles along an easement to get to national park lands

Trail Logistics

It takes a bit of effort to off road here, but it’s worth the effort. You’ll see parts of Alaska that are off the tourist path.

An off roading permit is required for all Alaska ATV trails within the Wrangell St. Elias National Park. They can be purchased onsite at the Main Park Visitor Center in Copper Center or the Slana Ranger Station in Slana.

Permits will only be issued for frozen trails and trails that are in good condition in order to minimize environmental damage. During thaw or rain, they may deny a permit. Call before you drive.

Wrangell St. Elias National Park: Complete Off Road Rules & Regulations

Wrangell St. Elias National Park Alaska ATV Trails

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