Winter 2022 is here and it's time to get outside and wander Alaska's winter-wonderland. You'll discover one of the best places for winter hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the trails right here in Valdez, Alaska. Even better, Valdez provides everything you need to explore the great outdoors. A detailed Winter Trail Map is available from Valdez Parks & Recreation is available to guide you on your wanderings, and free rentals for snow gear - including snowshoes, cross-county skis, ski poles, headlamps and more - are available in town through the Ski for Free program at Prince William Sound College.
5: Meals Hill
The Meals Hill Trail is a local favorite and one of Valdez's hidden gems. While Meals Hill is an official trail maintained by the Valdez Parks & Recreation, it is often left off most Valdez trail maps. The trailhead starts right in downtown Valdez, but is unmarked except for a small sign reading "Natural Area: Recreate At Your Own Risk". Look for the sign next to the Valdez Museum's Annex on Hazelet Avenue, across from Ruth Pond Park.
From the trailhead, the trail wanders up Meals Hill, providing amazing views of the Chugach Mountains and the waters of Port Valdez. At certain viewpoints, you can look across the water to the Valdez Marine Terminal. The trail is usually well groomed and not too difficult, though it does require hiking uphill.
Photo by Amanda Mitchell.
4: East & West Dike Trails
Running along both the east and west banks of Mineral Creek, the East & West Dike Trails are part of the Mineral Creek Trail system, located just to the west of downtown Valdez. Great for hiking and cross-country skiing, the Dike Trails offer Instagramable views of Valdez's winter landscapes. A low trestle footbridge over Mineral Creek connects the East Trail to the West Trail.
The Dike Trails are also some of the best places in Valdez for bringing your four-legged companions along. Leashed dogs are permitted and a series of pet-pickup stations are located along the East Dike Trail.
Photo by Jiyeon Juno Kim.
3: Homestead Trail
Another part of the Mineral Creek Trail System, the trailhead for Homestead Trail is located close to the West Dike Trail, but heads southwest towards Kite Beach and the waters of Port Valdez. Homestead is a shorter trail, and is perfect if you only have an hour or less to spend exploring. If you want to keep wandering, though, Homestead connects perfectly with the other trails nearby to make for a longer adventure. After enjoying the the view at the beach, turn around and follow Homestead back towards West Dike Trail and then on to East Dike Trail.
Photo by Stephen Bugno.
2: "Out-of-Town" Trail System
Valdez's "Out-of-Town" Trail System covers an extensive area of terrain starting along Valdez Glacier Stream and includes several different paths. These are All-Use winter trails and are open for both hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing as well as motorized use on snowmachines. The trail system runs along the Glacier Stream Plateau and out towards Hogback Glacier. The area is often quite windy, so wearing extra warm layers is important. If you're looking for one of the easier trails in this system, consider the Old Town Trails which follow through the streets of the original Valdez townsite down to the beachfront.
Photo from Discover Valdez.
1: Valdez Glacier Lake
Drive out to the end of Airport Road and you'll discover the winter wonderland of frozen Valdez Glacier Lake. You can hike, snowshoe, ski, fat-bike or snowmachine out onto the lake where glacial alleyways, ice caves and icebergs await. During the summer, massive icebergs calve off of the face of Valdez Glacier, and float towards the shore of the lake where they freeze in place during the winter, creating Valdez's famous ice caves. As always, play it safe and check local weather conditions before heading out onto the lake.
Photo by Stephen Bugno.