Loving the Eklutna Valley

Photo by - Ryan Peterson

Located on the northern border of Chugach State Park, the Eklutna Valley is home to the picturesque Eklutna Lake, a public campground, and trail network that makes it a popular and beloved outdoor recreation destination for residents and visitors of Southcentral Alaska.   

The Eklutna area is an increasingly favored quick getaway for staff in Trout Unlimited’s Anchorage office. TU’s increased involvement in the efforts to restore the Eklutna River to a healthy and productive state have us spending additional time in the region with zero complaint and we are eager to recommend it to others.  

Here is a sampling of some of the reasons we love the Eklutna Valley:

  • We’re granted access as a gift – Many recreationists visiting the Eklutna Lake area do not realize that It is a gift from Eklutna, Inc. The lake and surrounding areas are a part of their legacy of being good neighbors to the Municipality of Anchorage and MatSu Communities.  Eklutna Valley is a small fraction of the historical lands of the Eklutna Tribe, which are now owned by Eklutna, Inc., whom has established a cooperative agreement with Chugach State Park. Through this agreement, the park can manage the area and allow public access. Keep this in mind as you visit the area and treat these lands with respect. 
  • Year-round outdoor recreation opportunities for public land users of all varieties.
  • Summer activities include hiking, biking, mountaineering, hunting, fishing, ATVing, horseback riding, boating, wildlife viewing.
  • Winter activities include Ice skating, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, dog mushing.  
  • Public use cabins – The Eklutna Valley is home to a network of five public use cabins spanning throughout the valley. Some cabins are more than a dozen miles away from the parking lot for those in search of solitude, while others are only a few dozen steps from the car, providing access for adventurers of all ages and abilities.  
  • Unparalleled proximity and landscape – located just 42 miles from Anchorage and 31 miles from Wasilla, Eklutna Lake is only a short drive away, and sports a mighty Alaskan landscape that will remind even the most hardcore of sourdoughs why we choose to call this state home. The road accessing Eklutna Lake Recreation Area from the Glenn Highway can’t be described as mellow, but the destination at the end of the road delivers a sincere remote feel and, for better or worse, cell phone coverage is extremely limited. Clean, cold water – while the glacier feeding Eklutna Lake may only be visible to those willing to hike for the view, the glacial blue beauty of the lake will immediately captivate visitors. The water resource contributes the outstanding scenery that defines the area.  As the primary source of water for the Municipality of Anchorage, about 10 percent of the water in Eklutna Lake makes its way through city taps, providing high quality H20 that we are fortunate to enjoy.   
  • Ice cream! The cherry on top of any good (summer) visit to the Eklutna Valley is a quick stop at the eclectic Rochelle’s Ice Cream Stop for a tasty treat before the drive home. Guests of all ages are sure to appreciate.
Don’t forget to celebrate a successful adventure with some ice cream!

There is something for everyone to enjoy at Eklutna Lake Recreation Area, but the excitement isn’t limited to the lake and its surrounding trails and recreational opportunities.  An extensive effort is underway to restore the Eklutna River and rebuild its historic salmon runs.  The effort was kickstarted in 2017 with the removal of a defunct dam and will continue over the next several years as Trout Unlimited, the Native Village of Eklutna and other stakeholders request utility companies release some water from the upper Eklutna dam for salmon.  Learn more about restoring the Eklutna River and how you can help here

To learn more about the Eklutna Lake area and its boundless outdoor opportunities, visit the Alaska Department of Natural Resources website

Eric Booton, Sportsmen Engagement Organizer for Trout Unlimited’s Alaska Program, lives and works in Anchorage and is extremely excited about the opportunity to help return the Eklutna River to a healthy and productive state.

By Eric Booton.