Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
869.00 ft (264.87 m)
Trail type
There-and-back
Distance
8.34 mi (13.42 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.

Powerline Pass (which temporarily travels under some power lines, hence the name) is an easy day hike in Chugach State Park that runs southeast from Anchorage into the Front Range of the Chugach Mountains along the South Fork of Campbell Creek. This hike is not only great for families and lesser-abled people who still want to experience the wonder of Alaska’s backcountry, but also for trail runners, bikers, and climbers.

The full Powerline Pass trail runs for 10.5 miles (round trip) to Powerline Pass which sits between Avalanche Mountains to the north and South Powerline Peak to the southwest. Many will run or bike to the end and back but few hike there unless attempting the multi day one-way hike that will take them all the way to the Seward Highway (in which case a car shuttle is needed).  Otherwise, the most natural destination for hikers along Powerline Pass is the Ptarmigan Bowl.

On the right/south side of this very slightly inclined wide trail, you’ll hike right under Flattop Mountains, Peaks 2, 3, and 4, until you finally reach Ptarmigan Peak, the most technically demanding and prominent in the region. While one can ascend Ptarmigan Peak via fifth class alpine climbs on this side, the mountain is typically hiked from the opposite side vai the Rabbit Lake trail. For those not setting their sights on the summit itself, the shadow of Ptarmigan Peak holds many great treasures for hikers and climbers alike, namely the Ptarmigan Bowl which sits on the north aspect of the mountain.

To reach the bowl, you’ll need to ascend up the right slope at several different access points. The first one you’ll come upon is about 3.7 miles down the main trail.  The cutoff is well-trodden but can be overgrown by shrubbery making it difficult to see. If you miss this one, do not worry. You soon cross a creek and just after that, another more obvious trail cuts off to the right again.  This is the steeper of the two options, but either take you to the same place.  Keep hiking up with the obvious bowl in view above.

While the bowl is primarily a bouldering destination (described in full in the Alaska Bouldering guide by Todd Helgeson), it’s also great for backcountry camping, especially as a destination for those who want to get away from crowds without putting in too much effort as many other Alaskan backpacking adventures demand. Amid the sheltering large rocks, you’ll find plenty of flat spots, and a stream for water not too far away just down the hill.

A few things to be aware of on this hike include:

  • Bikers who can come quickly from around blind corners and run into hikers 
  • Moose, who are extremely unpredictable and generally considered the most dangerous animal to surprise in Alaska.  While bears have been spotted along this hike as well, it’s generally so populated that bears will keep a respectful distance.  Still, carrying bear spray is highly recommended.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

$5.00

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Largely easy terrain. Gateway to many other hikes. Access for bouldering, mountain biking and trail running. Surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery.

Cons

Congestion. Unpredictable weather.

Trailhead Elevation

2,195.00 ft (669.04 m)

Highest point

2,781.00 ft (847.65 m)

Features

Family friendly
Vault toilet
Near lake or river
Backcountry camping
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Bird watching
Wildflowers

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking

Permit required

No

Location

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