Alaska Campground Spotlight: Eklutna Lake in Chugiak, AK

Eklutna Lake Campground is one of our favorite campgrounds if you’re looking for an active weekend with a conveniently close base camp. The campground itself has about 50 spots and is reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis at $15 per night, May through September. Because of how popular it is, it can be hard to get a spot on the weekends of a peak summer month so it would be best to arrive during the week or in the low season. Within walking distance of your campground, you can rent kayaks and bicycles, go on a beautiful walk around Eklutna Lake, ride ATVs or choose from several surrounding mountains to climb. The campsite has tent camping spots, where a campervan is eligible for parking, or RV camping spots. More information can be found at the state’s website: State of Alaska.

The Eklutna Lakeside Trail is the most popular trail in the area. A fun fact about this lake is that it is Anchorage’s city reservoir. It is rated as an easy, 13-mile one-way hike or bike. If you can get your hands on an ATV, there are certain days of the week where the area is open to motorized riding. Along the trail you’ll get spectacular views of Eklutna Lake, various wildlife, Eklutna River and finally Eklutna Glacier. Some of the local renting companies will allow you to kayak out 8 miles to the end of the lake, where they will have a bike waiting for you that you can take back. This is an excellent way to add some variety into your adventure. We tried Lifetime Adventures and would definitely recommend them for a Kayak rental. They set us up with all the gear we needed (except warm clothes): a kayak, paddles and life vests. They have various pricing packages, depending on how long you want to go, if you want to incorporate a bike or not and how many people you want to take along.

Kayaking Eklutna Lake
Kayaking Eklutna

If you’re looking for a more strenuous hike with some decent elevation gain, you can try out Pepper Peak, or Twin Peaks, which are both within walking distance of your camping spot and are great day hikes. You start on the same trail to get to Twin Peaks and Pepper Peak but eventually you’ll hit a fork in the “road”, which is the second bench. If you continue heading up the valley, you’ll make your way to the Twin Peaks trail, a steep 5.5 mile one-way hike with rewarding views of Eklutna Lake and the surrounding Chugach mountains. The peaks themselves are rated for experienced climbers only and should only be attempted with strong mountaineering skills. Alternatively, if you veer to the right at the bench, you’ll start heading to a 4.5 mile one-way hike to Pepper Peak which also showcases the beautiful Eklutna Lake and surrounding mountains, including Twin Peaks, and part of the glacier. When we were there last, the fireweed were abundant and beautiful along the trail! On both hikes, there is a good chance of spotting a Dall sheep herd and other wildlife.

Hiking Pepper Peak
Brittany, Sam & Shadow (the Alaskan Husky) Hiking Pepper Peak

After all these day adventures, the icing on the cake is heading back to your camping base camp where you can pull out the kitchen to make a healthy dinner, start a fire and sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to catch the Northern Lights, before dozing off in the comfort of your campervan.

Alaska Northern Lights, seen from the Eklutna Lake Campground
Alaska Northern Lights, seen from the Eklutna Lake Campground

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