Wolverine Peak may be difficult, but it leads to incredible views. We saw dall sheep and a moose on the way up too. This hike took us about 7 hours round-trip with multiple breaks and a lovely dinner on top of the peak. If you walk briskly you could probably finish the hike in 4-5 hours. The final mile at the top was super intense, but well worth the struggle.
- Difficulty: somewhat difficult
- Location: Anchorage (roughly 25 minutes from downtown), Alaska
- Kid Friendly: yes (if you take your time)
- Dog Friendly: yes (leashed at the beginning)
- Distance: about 10 miles round-trip
- Elevation: 3750
- Season: spring, summer, fall, and winter (with poles and crampons or skis)
- Lat/Long: 61.1348, -149.6143
- Directions: If you have GPS look up “Prospect Heights Trailhead.” From the new Seward Highway go east on O'Malley Rd for roughly 4 miles, at which point the road bends to the left. After the bend, turn right to Upper O'Malley Road. You’ll drive for a bit then meet at a "T" intersection where you’ll turn left to Prospect Dr. Drive one more mile and then take a left where Prospect Drive intersects with Sidorof Lane. You’ll drive about 0.1 miles to the Prospect Heights parking area. There’s a $5 fee to park here (bring the exact amount in cash) or you can use your $40 annual parking pass.
This is one of my favorite day hikes near Anchorage. Not only does it have amazing views, but it’s also not as crowded as the other nearby hikes. Leashed dogs are welcome, and you can even let your cutie off leash once you reach the difficult portion of the hike where people are scarcer.
Wolverine Peak is one of the highest peaks in the area so don’t try to tackle it if you only have a few hours to spare. From the top of the peak you can see Canyon Valley, Williwaw Valley, O’Malley, Flattop Mountain, the Chugach Mountains, the Kenai Mountains, the Anchorage Bowl, Cook Inlet, Mt. Susitna (Sleeping Lady), the Alaska Range, and the Talkeetna Mountains. The view of the city isn't too bad either.
The first two-ish miles of the hike are shaded and casual with water nearby. You walk on switchbacks for a while, cross a bridge in the valley, and then curve your way back up the hills. When the trail finally starts to level off again you’ll see a sign on the right that says “Wolverine Trail.” There aren’t any water sources after you pass the creek in the lower valley on the way to the trail, so make sure to pack accordingly.
If you’re half way up and feel like you can’t make it to the peak, you can always hike the moraine on your right or head further along the Prospect Heights Trailhead and hike to Near Point. But I highly suggest pushing through the pain and making it to the top!
Kevin and I sweat a ton on the way up Wolverine Trail without any shade cover. The trail kept going up and remained steep the entire time without any flat portions or easy switchbacks. I had to take way more breaks on the trail than I normally would on other hikes, and I felt my energy drain away quickly. Even Zuko was losing steam… but granted, he ran back and forth most of the time.
After struggling quite a bit for three-ish miles, we finally made it to the first viewpoint. We looked at the city in all directions and then noticed a large herd of dall sheep on the hillside below the peak’s summit. We took a few photos, ate a snack, and then mentally prepared for the final steep mile. Every time Kevin told me, “We’re almost there!” I just gave him a skeptical look. I know that in Alaska, ‘almost there’ doesn’t actually mean you’re almost there. When we finally made it to the summit I felt like dying on the rock. But once I looked around at the views I immediately felt rejuvenated and in awe.
We tested out Kevin’s new motion-control time-lapse rig, ate some Mountain House dehydrated meals, and soaked up the views for over an hour. When we finally finished up and headed down, our trekking poles came in handy as we traversed the steep terrain. I don’t suggest jogging down the first mile since it’s full of loose rock, but it’s easy to trail run the rest of the trail. I think we made it down in under two hours, but I can’t quite remember.
Wolverine Peak is a challenging yet fulfilling day-hike. We highly suggest pushing through and making it to the top!