- Lyndell Daniel
Winner Creek Gorge Trailhead
We had a spare day in Anchorage before heading out to Lake Clark and had decided on completing a few hikes around the area. One of the hikes we chose was The Winner Creek Gorge Trailhead, located in Girdwood, where you can retrace the footsteps and sled tracks of those who lived and journeyed along the Iditarod Trail. The Winner Creek Gorge is a short 1 hour drive from Anchorage. I found the hike and trail relatively easy. There are some inclines but nothing too strenuous and it is fairly easy to pull yourself across the gorge via the Hand Tram. The Hand Tram is big enough for 2 people or if you are like me, go by yourself and stop in the middle to take photos of the Gorge and admire the scenery.
The section of the trail we chose wanders through dense forest, across old avalanche paths, past historic gold mines, and over the churning water of Winner Creek Gorge.
Approximately 1 mile from the trailhead along Winner Creek Trail, you can take a people-powered-pull across Glacier Creek Canyon. The tram is suspended 50 feet above the water. Easy enough to pull yourself across, you just need a bit more pulling force towards each edge to pull the tram uphill. If no one is around, make sure you stop half way and admire the spectacular scenery.
Just a short hike past the hand tram, you can appreciate the spectacular beauty of the Winner Creek Gorge and the challenges and opportunities that early explorers encountered along the trail.
Alaskans have mushed over the 2,400 mile network of trails for centuries. The Iditarod National Historic Trail was designated in 1978 to showcase the unique role sled dog transportation played in America's last big gold rush.
Today the historic route is home to several famous long-distance winter races and used year round by thousands for recreation, hunting, and inter-village travel.
As the clouds started to roll in after completing our hike, we enjoyed a scenic drive back through Turnagain Arm where we stopped for lunch.
Turnagain is characterized by remarkably large tides of up to 40 feet (12 meters) which are the largest tides in the United States. The flood tide often begins with a tidal bore especially on large tides with a strong east wind, which has a height of 6 feet (1.8 m) at times, and runs in from the west at a speed of 5–6 miles (8.0–9.7 km) an hour. At low tide, the arm becomes a broad mud flat, cut by the stream channels.
The arm draws its name for British explorer James Cook, who was forced to “turn again” when the waterway didn't hold the fabled Northwest Passage during his 1778 voyage.