Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
4,600.00 ft (1,402.08 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.50 mi (13.68 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

A variety of adventures begin at Eklutna Lake, from casual lakeside strolls to multi-day treks crossing glaciers. Peakbagging is another option, invited by the high rows of mountains on either side of the valley. Most of the summits require a tolerance for difficulty and danger, but Pepper Peak is one with relatively low risk for a big reward. It’s a challenging hike, to be sure, but with a sloping ridge rather than jagged cliffs leading to its summit, Pepper is attainable by any fit hiker as long as the weather is good.

The journey begins on the well-traveled Twin Peaks Trail that begins from Eklutna Lake. This trail is actually an old road bed, making a steep but smooth warmup that delivers to the timberline. Wooden benches mark two main overlooks along the way, and the second bench provides the token view of the Twin Peaks. That’s where the Twin Peaks Trail ends, and the more rugged route to Pepper Peak heads off to the right.

This trail soon leaves the alders and strikes across rocky tundra on the ridgeline. It’s generally easy to follow, though it braids into slight variations here and there. Try to stay on the best-worn path in order to limit further erosion. As the trail rounds the shoulder of the mountain, you’ll get the best view yet of Eklutna Lake, now far below. The vantage gets better and better continuing upward, as massive glaciers reveal themselves at the head of the valley.

Eventually the trail steepens among broken rock bands, and a light scrambling may be necessary. Beware of loose footing. After this short section the gradient lessens, and the rest of the way is a panoramic ridge walk. The Twin Peaks loom on one side, and the icy interior of the Chugach Range unfolds on the other. You’ll pass one false summit, then continue up a final stretch of mellow terrain to the top.

Once you’re there, a new perspective immediately unfolds. You can see off the north side of the mountain, over the mouth of the Knik River a full 5,000 feet below. Across the valley rises the Talkeetna Range, and if you get really lucky with weather, you can see to the Alaska Range and the proud summit of Denali on the horizon.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Summer
Fall
Spring

Congestion

Moderate

Parking Pass

$5.00

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

5,000-foot peak in the Chugach. Incredible views. Established trail.

Trailhead Elevation

900.00 ft (274.32 m)

Highest point

5,385.00 ft (1,641.35 m)

Features

Near lake or river
Wildlife
Geologically significant
Big vistas
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Permit required

No

Location

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