If you are in the mood for a great hike, stunning views and some sore muscles the next day, Pioneer Ridge in Palmer is a great day hike. The trail is not as strenuous as hiking to the top of Lazy Mountain (another tale for another time) but it is was a very good workout for our old bones! The trail went farther than we did (we got to the 9600 foot distance marker) and, from what we have read/heard about it gets more difficult the higher you go. There is always next time!
The Pioneer Ridge trail is forested, narrow and has tree roots in the pathway. There are a few areas where walkways cover the most slippery and waterlogged portions of the trails but the trail can be very slick at times. It is a steady and steep trek up the mountain with switchbacks, thorny devils club and tons of photo ops!
From Anchorage, take the Glen Highway toward Palmer and Wasilla. Take the Old Glenn exit and follow along the right side of the bridge (don’t cross the bridge or you will go into the Butte and then to the back side of Palmer). Follow the mountainside road keep going for roughly 5 miles. The trail head is on the right and there is a large wooden sign at the parking lot.
Like every adventure in Alaska, be prepared for the weather to change.
Bring water, snacks, rain coat and a windbreaker.
There is an outhouse at the beginning of the trail. From there, you are on your own.
Of course, be ‘bear aware’ and bring protection from the wildlife.
Stay safe and happy hiking!
Jacque & Larry