Overland’s Best Day Hikes: Eklutna Twin Peaks Trail Near Eagle River, Alaska


If you’re looking for a great day hike within an hour’s drive of Anchorage, read on to learn more about the Eklutna Twin Peaks Trail Near Eagle River, Alaska.

PART ONE: BASICS

Location of trailhead: Trailhead is about an hour drive north of Anchorage outside of Eagle River Alaska. Park at the Eklutna Lake Campground.

Difficulty level: Moderate to Challenging

Round trip miles: Approximately 4 miles roundtrip – There are opportunities to turn around earlier (2.5 miles) or to keep going (7 miles).

Elevation gain: About 3,500 feet 

Typical duration of the hike for Overland groups: Approximately 5 hours (not including stops).

PART TWO: FIRST-PERSON ACCOUNT BY VETERAN OVERLAND LEADER WILL SAVAGE.

Veteran Overland leader Will Savage led Overland’s Alaska Explorer in 2021, and Sierra Expedition (now called Sierra Challenge) in 2022. In Alaska, Will led three groups of teens (the students were 13 and 14 years old) for two weeks at a time. During their stays in Alaska, Will led the groups on the Eklutna Twin Peaks Trail.

What It’s Like

The hike up the Eklutna Peaks Trailhead begins in the parking lot for the Eklutna Lakes Campground. There is plenty of parking and there are bathrooms at the trailhead. Right out of the parking lot you will cross over a creek on a bridge and then turn left up a gravel road with the lake at your back. The path is clear to follow with good signage at the beginning. Soon you will find yourself leaving the lake and heading uphill. The beginning of the hike is the most challenging part. The trail is well maintained but steep! You will be hiking in the shade, switching back and forth through the forest. After about a mile, you will start to get your first views off the right side of the trail towards the lake and be rewarded with the first sitting bench. This is a great spot for water and a snack. 

After leaving the first bench, you will once again travel away from the lake heading up into the mountains. Keep your eyes open on this section as the alpine meadows off to your left and in front of you are great opportunities to see Dall sheep and black bears. After about 2 miles you will reach the second bench. If you are tired, this is a great turnaround spot, but for those looking for a bit more adventure you can continue onto a backcountry trail. This isn’t maintained, so take your time while traversing this section. 

30-45 more minutes of hiking brings you to an incredible viewpoint looking across all of Eklutna Lake. Soak in the views here, take pictures, eat lunch and enjoy the (hopefully) sunny weather. You can continue up towards Pepper Peak, but in my opinion the viewpoint here is the best spot to end your hike. Head back down the way you came for a total of a 4 to 5 mile hike!

Why I Loved It

This hike is challenging, and that makes the view that much sweeter. Hiking uphill is hard, so take your time! If you are visiting in the summer, you will have plenty of sunlight which enables every group to travel at a pace convenient for them. The challenging aspect of this hike really brings the group together and helps you feel like you are accomplishing a big adventure. Hiking off trail adds an additional element of adventure and discovery to the experience. Considering we only ever saw two other groups of hikers, it really feels like you have the entire hike to yourself. The lookout point is a great place for a photo shoot and my groups took full advantage! We spent about 45 minutes at the top taking all kinds of photos. We were trying to make it on the Overland website (which worked!). 

Anything Else That Is Memorable

Returning to the bottom of the trailhead, you are pretty tired after a big hike, and it is so rewarding to end the day with a quick dip in Eklutna Lake! Looking back up the mountain from the water really puts the achievement into perspective!

Overland Leader Will Savage At-A-Glance

Hometown: Austin, Texas
College, Major, Year of Graduation: 2021.5

Summers on Overland staff: Three – two as a leader and one on the full-time team
Overland trips: Alaska Explorer, Sierra Expedition (now Sierra Challenge)

Current Responsibilities on the Year-Round Team: Member of our Leader Hiring Team. Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and managing our 180-person staff.

What One of Will’s Co-Leaders Had to Say

“Will’s strengths include excellent communication, organization and leadership. Will was so supportive and it was a pleasure working with him. Will has many hard backcountry skills and he enjoys sharing these with the students. We shared decision making and risk management decisions. Will was great with the students. He knew both how to laugh with them and how to reign them in and discipline them.” – Rena Schwartz

PART THREE: ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Here is a selection of some relevant online resources:

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    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

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