Williwaw Trail In Alaska

Here is everything you need to know about the Williwaw Trail:

  • Trail System: National Recreation Trail
  • State: Alaska
  • Length: 0.5 miles.
  • Type: Hiking.
  • Surface: gravel
  • Managed By: Chugach State Park
  • Permit Required?: Yes
  • Website: Not available.

The Williwaw Trail, located in Chugach State Park in Alaska, holds a significant historical background. The trail was originally established during World War II as a military supply route known as the “Williwaw Portage.” It served as a vital link between the military bases at Fort Richardson and Elmendorf Air Force Base, allowing for the transportation of supplies and personnel.

The trail gained its name from the strong and unpredictable winds known as “williwaws” that frequently swept through the area. These gusts posed a significant challenge for those traversing the trail, making it a demanding and treacherous journey. Despite the difficulties, the Williwaw Portage played a crucial role in supporting military operations during the war.

After the war, the trail was gradually opened to the public, becoming a popular recreational destination. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts were drawn to the rugged beauty of the Chugach Mountains and the historical significance of the Williwaw Trail. Today, the trail offers stunning views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife, while also serving as a reminder of the area’s military past.

While On The Trail

Access Points

1. Prospect Heights Trailhead: This is the starting point of the Williwaw Trail, located near the Prospect Heights area in Anchorage, Alaska.

2. Glen Alps Trailhead: Situated in Chugach State Park, this trailhead provides access to the Williwaw Trail as well as other popular trails like the Powerline Pass Trail and Flattop Mountain Trail.

3. Middle Fork Trailhead: Located near the Middle Fork Campbell Creek, this access point allows hikers to join the Williwaw Trail from the south.

4. Campbell Airstrip Trailhead: Situated near Campbell Airstrip Road, this trailhead provides another access point to the Williwaw Trail.

5. Basher Drive Trailhead: This access point is located near Basher Drive in Anchorage and offers a convenient starting point for hikers.

6. Arctic Valley Road Trailhead: Situated near Arctic Valley Road, this trailhead provides access to the Williwaw Trail from the north.

7. Eagle River Nature Center: Although not directly on the Williwaw Trail, the Eagle River Nature Center serves as a popular starting point for hikers who want to explore the surrounding Chugach Mountains, including the Williwaw Trail.

These are some of the major access points or trailheads along the Williwaw Trail. There may be additional smaller access points or trailheads along the trail as well.

Transportation Available

1. Anchorage People Mover – Public bus service covering various routes in Anchorage.
2. Uber – On-demand ride-hailing service.
3. Lyft – On-demand ride-hailing service.
4. Yellow Cab – Traditional taxi service.
5. Alaska Cab – Traditional taxi service.
6. Anchorage Trolley Tours – Sightseeing tours on a historic trolley.
7. Alaska Railroad – Scenic train service connecting Anchorage to other Alaskan destinations.
8. Anchorage Pedicabs – Pedal-powered rickshaws for short trips within downtown Anchorage.
9. Anchorage Bike Share – Bike rental service for exploring the city and nearby trails.
10. Anchorage International Airport – Major airport serving domestic and international flights.


The amenities available at the Williwaw Trail may vary, but here are some common amenities that you might find:

1. Restrooms: There may be restroom facilities available at the trailhead or along the trail. These could be permanent structures or portable toilets.

2. Parking: There should be designated parking areas for visitors to park their vehicles while using the trail. These parking lots may have limited capacity, so it’s advisable to arrive early during peak times.

3. Camping Sites: Some trails may have designated camping areas or campgrounds nearby where visitors can set up tents or park RVs. However, it’s important to check if camping is allowed and if any permits or reservations are required.

4. Picnic Areas: There might be designated picnic areas along the trail where visitors can stop and enjoy a meal or snack. These areas may have picnic tables, benches, and trash bins.

5. Interpretive Signs: Along the trail, you may find interpretive signs that provide information about the local flora, fauna, geology, or history. These signs can enhance the educational experience of the trail.

6. Trail Markers: To ensure visitors stay on the designated trail, there may be trail markers or signs indicating the correct path to follow. These markers can be helpful in preventing hikers from getting lost.

7. Information Boards: At the trailhead or other key locations, there may be information boards that provide details about the trail, including maps, safety guidelines, and any specific regulations or restrictions.

8. Water Sources: Depending on the length and location of the trail, there may be water sources available for visitors to refill their water bottles or hydration packs. However, it’s always a good idea to bring your own water supply.

9. Benches or Seating Areas: Along the trail, you might find benches or seating areas where visitors can take a break, relax, and enjoy the surrounding scenery.

10. Trash Receptacles: To maintain cleanliness and preserve the natural environment, there may be trash receptacles placed at regular intervals along the trail. Visitors are encouraged to dispose of their waste properly.

It’s important to note that the availability of these amenities can vary, so it’s advisable to check with local authorities or visitor centers for the most up-to-date information before visiting the Williwaw Trail.

Nearby Services

1. Williwaw Campground – A nearby campground offering tent and RV sites for outdoor enthusiasts.
2. Alyeska Resort – A premier lodging option with luxurious amenities and stunning mountain views.
3. The Sourdough Mining Company – A popular restaurant serving hearty American fare in a rustic setting.
4. Girdwood Health Clinic – An emergency medical facility providing healthcare services to the local community.
5. The Bake Shop – A charming bakery and café offering delicious pastries, sandwiches, and coffee.
6. Hotel Alyeska – A top-rated hotel featuring comfortable rooms, a spa, and multiple dining options.
7. Girdwood Fire Department – A local fire station providing emergency response and fire safety services.
8. Jack Sprat – A cozy restaurant and bar serving a diverse menu of seafood, burgers, and craft beers.
9. Girdwood Police Department – The local law enforcement agency ensuring public safety in the area.
10. The Sitzmark Bar & Grill – A lively après-ski spot offering pub food, live music, and a friendly atmosphere.

Williwaw Trail Difficulty Notes

The Williwaw Trail, located in Chugach State Park in Alaska, is known for its challenging difficulty level. This 5.5-mile trail offers a variety of terrains, including steep ascents, rocky sections, and narrow paths. Hikers must navigate through dense forests, cross streams, and overcome obstacles along the way. The trail’s elevation gain of over 1,500 feet adds to the difficulty, making it a strenuous hike that requires endurance and physical fitness. However, the breathtaking views of glaciers, mountains, and wildlife make the Williwaw Trail a rewarding and unforgettable experience for those who are up for the challenge.

Features And Attractions

The Williwaw Trail is located in Chugach State Park, Alaska, and offers stunning scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks. Here are some notable attractions along the trail:

1. Williwaw Lakes: The trail starts at the Williwaw Lakes, a series of beautiful alpine lakes surrounded by mountains. The lakes offer breathtaking views and are great for fishing and camping.

2. Middle Fork Campbell Creek: As you hike along the trail, you’ll come across the Middle Fork Campbell Creek, a picturesque waterway that flows through the valley. It’s a great spot for wildlife viewing and photography.

3. Portage Valley: The trail passes through Portage Valley, which is known for its stunning scenery. You’ll be surrounded by towering mountains, glaciers, and lush forests.

4. Byron Glacier: A short detour from the Williwaw Trail will take you to Byron Glacier. This massive glacier is a popular attraction, and you can get up close to its icy blue face.

5. Bird Creek: The trail also passes near Bird Creek, a popular spot for fishing and birdwatching. You might spot bald eagles, salmon, and other wildlife in this area.

6. Historical Sites: Along the trail, you’ll find remnants of World War II-era military installations, including bunkers and gun emplacements. These historical sites offer a glimpse into Alaska’s role in defending the coast during the war.

7. Flattop Mountain: Although not directly on the Williwaw Trail, Flattop Mountain is a nearby landmark that offers incredible panoramic views of Anchorage, the surrounding mountains, and Cook Inlet. It’s a popular hike and worth considering if you have extra time.

These are just a few of the many scenic views, historical sites, and natural landmarks you can experience along the Williwaw Trail. Remember to check trail conditions and be prepared for changing weather conditions when exploring this beautiful area.

Usage Guidelines


Seasonal Information

The Williwaw Trail, located in Chugach State Park in Alaska, offers breathtaking views and a unique outdoor experience. The best times of the year to visit the trail depend on your preferences and the activities you wish to engage in. The summer months, from June to August, are the most popular due to the milder weather and longer daylight hours. During this time, the trail is accessible, and you can enjoy hiking, biking, and wildlife spotting.

In the summer, the Williwaw Trail showcases stunning landscapes adorned with vibrant wildflowers, lush greenery, and snow-capped mountains in the distance. The trail takes you through diverse terrain, including forests, meadows, and along the scenic Eklutna Lake. It is also an excellent time for birdwatching, as migratory birds flock to the area.

However, it’s important to note that seasonal closures can affect the accessibility of the Williwaw Trail. During the winter months, from November to April, the trail is typically covered in snow and closed for hiking. However, this presents a unique opportunity for winter sports enthusiasts, as the trail becomes a popular destination for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The snowy landscape offers a serene and peaceful atmosphere, with the chance to spot wildlife tracks in the snow.

It’s advisable to check with the park authorities or visitor center for the most up-to-date information on trail conditions and closures before planning your visit. Regardless of the season, the Williwaw Trail promises a memorable experience, whether you’re seeking a summer adventure or a winter wonderland.


1. Wheelchair Accessible Parking: Designated parking spaces near the trailhead with sufficient space for wheelchair users to easily enter and exit their vehicles.
2. Accessible Trailhead: A level and paved area at the beginning of the trail, allowing wheelchair users to easily access the trail.
3. Wide and Paved Trail: The trail is wide enough and paved, providing a smooth surface for wheelchair users to navigate comfortably.
4. Gradual Slopes: The trail has gentle slopes, making it easier for wheelchair users to traverse without encountering steep inclines.
5. Rest Areas with Benches: Regularly spaced benches along the trail, providing wheelchair users with opportunities to rest and enjoy the surroundings.
6. Accessible Restrooms: Wheelchair-accessible restrooms located near the trailhead or along the trail for convenience.
7. Signage and Wayfinding: Clear and visible signage with accessible symbols and directions, ensuring wheelchair users can easily navigate the trail.
8. Handrails and Guardrails: Where necessary, the trail is equipped with handrails and guardrails to assist wheelchair users in maintaining balance and safety.
9. Accessible Picnic Areas: Picnic areas along the trail designed to accommodate wheelchair users, allowing them to enjoy outdoor meals and socialize.
10. Assistance Animals Allowed: The trail permits the presence of service animals to assist individuals with disabilities, ensuring equal access and support.

Safety Information

1. Slippery sections: Be cautious of slippery sections along the trail, especially during wet or icy conditions.
2. Steep terrain: Exercise caution on steep sections of the trail, as they may require careful footing and balance.
3. Unstable rocks: Watch out for loose or unstable rocks along the trail, which may pose a risk of falling or injury.
4. Wildlife encounters: Be aware of potential encounters with wildlife, including bears, and take appropriate precautions.
5. Limited cell phone reception: Expect limited or no cell phone reception along the trail, so plan accordingly for emergencies.
6. Variable weather conditions: Be prepared for rapidly changing weather conditions, including strong winds and sudden temperature drops.
7. Trail maintenance: Stay updated on any trail maintenance or closures that may affect your hike on the Williwaw Trail.

Conservation Notes

The Williwaw Trail, located in Chugach State Park in Alaska, holds a conservation status of utmost importance. As part of a protected area, the trail is subject to strict regulations and management practices to ensure the preservation of its natural resources and wildlife. The conservation status of the Williwaw Trail is primarily focused on maintaining the delicate balance of the surrounding ecosystem and safeguarding its unique biodiversity.

Efforts to conserve the Williwaw Trail involve the implementation of various measures to minimize human impact on the environment. These include strict guidelines for waste management, limiting the number of visitors, and enforcing Leave No Trace principles. By controlling the number of hikers and campers, the conservation status aims to prevent overcrowding and minimize disturbance to the flora and fauna along the trail.

Furthermore, the conservation status of the Williwaw Trail emphasizes the protection of sensitive habitats and species. The trail passes through diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, forests, and alpine tundra, each hosting a range of plant and animal species. Conservation efforts focus on preserving these habitats and ensuring the survival of threatened or endangered species that call the area home. This involves monitoring and managing invasive species, preventing habitat destruction, and promoting responsible recreational activities to minimize disturbance to wildlife.

Overall, the conservation status of the Williwaw Trail reflects a commitment to preserving the natural beauty and ecological integrity of the area. Through careful management and visitor education, the trail can continue to provide a unique and immersive experience while safeguarding its delicate ecosystems for future generations.

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