Rendezvous Peak is a fun hike close to town that generally isn’t crowded. It boasts great views of Anchorage and the Eagle River Valley, as well as Mt Denali on a clear day. It’s one of the more kid-friendly peaks in the area thanks to its slow and steady ascent (on the Arctic Valley side). If you take the Eagle River side it’s more of a steep challenge.
- Difficulty: somewhat easy
- Location: Anchorage (roughly 35 minutes from downtown), Alaska
- Kid Friendly: yes
- Dog Friendly: yes (on leash)
- Distance: about 3.2 miles round-trip
- Elevation: 1430
- Season: spring, summer, fall, winter (avalanche safety required)
- Lat/Long: 61.250233, -149.506682
- Directions: You can reach the peak from the Eagle River side or the Artic Valley side, but I’m going to write this post from the Artic Valley side (which is more mellow). From Anchorage, take Glenn Highway north and get off on the Arctic Valley Rd exit. Follow this switch-backing road all the way to the end (about 7 miles) to the parking area owned by the Anchorage Ski Club. There’s a $5 fee to park here so bring the exact amount in cash. The State Park Pass isn’t valid here.
- Note: The washboards on the drive up the Arctic Valley road can be rough for low-clearance cars, so take your time. We’ve also spotted a couple moose on the way so keep an eye out. And since you drive through portions of Fort Richardson (military-owned land), you’ll have to drive through some gates. The gate hours are 6am-10pm. You’ll also need to avoid the military installation near the peak. That area is restricted and you can be fined if you’re caught. Just stay on the designated trail and you’ll be fine.
When we first tried to hike Rendezvous Peak, we parked at the trailhead and followed the main trail near the posted signs. We followed the ridge higher and higher until the trail disappeared. Since we were already so high up, we decided to keep going further to reach the peak. We ended up finding a road and warning signs for the military, so we quickly turned around and backtracked down the hill. By the time we made it down we decided to go home since we had already spent so many hours there and didn’t want to get locked in when they closed the gate.
We decided to hike the trail again on the 4th of July. We have a tradition of taking Zuko on a hike to avoid the loud fireworks, plus we figured the view from the peak would be great to watch the show downtown.
This time around we followed the trail on the right side of the parking lot that looked like an old roadbed. This trail paralleled the stream and continued past the chairlifts. When we realized this trail was well traveled and far from the military area we found before, we knew we were on the right path.
The trail led to a pass that marked the steeper portion of the hike. I’m guessing some people turn around at this point since that’s where the real work began. We turned right toward the peak and followed the trail. The path wrapped around the peak instead of shooting straight up, which made the ascent much easier to hike. Zuko happily frolicked through the flowers ahead of us since we didn’t have to keep him on leash. Normally we would but we were the only people on the trail that evening.
The last mile or so is a bit steeper than the rest, so if you have kids take your time. But once you get to the top of the peak the views are amazing. You can see the Anchorage Bowl and Inlet, Ship Creek, and South Fork Eagle River. We also spotted a curious manmade structure that turned out to be a little stone fort. We’re guessing hikers made it to protect against the wind, so we happily sat down and drank a beer in honor of the hike. We even found a tiny American flag stuck in the rocks, which felt very fitting with our presidential beers. As Zuko sniffed everything in sight and peed on his new peak, we watched the fireworks in the city below and enjoyed the holiday in style.
When we finally made it back down the peak we realized the gates had closed behind us. Since it’s illegal to camp overnight (and we didn’t particularly want to anyway), we found a way to drive off-road around the gate. I highly suggest avoiding that scenario altogether by simply leaving on time.
Overall I’d say this is one of the most mellow above-tree hikes in the area. It can be a little crowded at times (especially during berry-picking season), but it’s well worth the views.