Anchorage is Alaska’s largest city, tucked into a peninsula of the Cook Inlet in the south central part of the state. Due to its centralized location between major world cities, the city of 300,000 is an important hub of transportation for military, shipping, and commercial airlines. It’s also somewhat of a mecca for outdoors and wildlife enthusiasts who come to experience Alaska’s wild landscape, where the mudflats of the Cook Inlet, the Knik, and the Turnagain Arm rise up into thick coniferous forests and the mighty Chugach Mountains, just south of Denali. Running in Anchorage is a pleasure, in season, with great trails easily accessible from downtown. And the weather is not as severe as you think!
The natural beauty of the surrounding area is only one reason runners love Anchorage. Due to the extensive urban trail and bike path network, and the numerous cross country paths of Chugach State Forest, a devoted base of local athletes swear Anchorage is one of the best cities for running in the country. The downtown area has plenty of wide, inviting sidewalks, but unless you want to stop at a crosswalk each block, stick to the multitude of car-free cross-city trails. These include the Coastal Trail, Chester Creek Trail, Campbell Creek Trail, and Ship Creek Trail. One wild run near downtown is the Lake Hood paths around the massive seaplane base. Or, you can retreat to the forests on the Powerline Pass, Turnagain Arm Trail, or Far North Bicentennial Park. Be cognizant of wildlife when running in Anchorage — bears, and even moose, can pose threats to runners, especially in spring and summer. For this reason, some runners like to tackle the non-urban routes during the winter months. You can find a guide to winter trail conditions here. Note: some trails/paths might be closed to running in winter due to X-C skiiing. You can use the Winter Guide to Trail Use to determine what is open.
Most tourists fly into Anchorage and get around via car. Public transportation is limited to non-existent, so if you’re without your own set of wheels, you’ll need to rely on shuttle services, which are pretty limited. Our suggestion? Take a bike, or use your own to feet to explore around town on the urban trail network — it’s fast, easy, and free!