There are lots of peaks in the Chugach State Park right outside my front door that I have yet to climb. So why am I constantly drawn to Wolverine Peak?
For Gina and I, it's become an annual trek to the top of the 4,455-foot mountain clearly visible from Anchorage. It's probably that "clearly visible" part that keeps drawing me back. I can see Flattop from my deck, but I can see Wolverine from my office desk. So any time I might be daydreaming about hikes -- whether the weather is 70 and sunny or minus 20 and frosty, I can see Wolverine.
And the hike offers some of everything I love about Alaska – good elevation, fantastic views in every direction, the chance for solitude and likely wildlife encounters.
Last Sunday, Gina and I headed up Wolverine. We didn't leave the parking lot at the Prospect Heights trail head until 6 p.m. Four hours later we were back at the car. We did it as a bike-hike combo, riding our mountain bikes the first two miles of the trail and stashing them in the woods as we made the 3.2-mile push to the summit.
It's not an overly challenging hike -- one guidebook calls it "moderate" -- but you will know you’re climbing, and you'll probably feel in it your legs for a day or two afterward.
The trail spends a while in some brush, but emerges on a rocky ridge that leads to a bit of a level spot and on to the peak. Starting late in the day, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We passed four or five people headed down, and there was another couple following us for a bit, but they decided to turn around before reaching the peak.
Just off the trail is what remains of an old crashed plane. Wreck debris is fairly common in Alaska mountains, but this is unique because you walk within 10 feet of it.
We spent about 30 minutes at the top, enjoying the scenery and a snack. We even managed to bag a geocache near the peak. Then, it was back down. Since we only had a little over an hour until sunset, we jogged most of the way. Once we reached the brush, we started hollering "Hey, bear!" every minute or so. While we didn't stumble upon a bear, we did find a young moose -- standing in the middle of the trail, with no good way to get around it. The moose could care less about us, but it wasn't moving. So we waited … and waited … and waited. Finally, we were able to move down the trail, back to the bikes and finally to the parking lot.
It was, as always, a wonderful hike to Wolverine Peak.
How to get there: The hike starts at the Prospect Heights trail head. Reach the parking lot by heading east on O’Malley Road from the Seward Highway. Follow the brown signs.