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Anchorage Travel Guide

Participatory Sports

Bicycling

Anchorage has more than 120 miles of paved bicycle trails, and many streets have marked bike lanes. Although busy during the day, Downtown streets are uncrowded and safe for cyclists in the evening.

Alaskabike. Serious gearheads can book multiday touring packages through this company to explore South Central, the Interior, and nearby scenic highways. Another option is the all-inclusive multi-sport tour, which features biking, hiking, sea kayaking and a glacier cruise. 3900 B Woronzof Dr., Anchorage, AK, 99517. 907/245–2175 or 866/683–2453. www.alaskabike.com.

Alaska Pablo's Bicycle Rentals. Near the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, this shop has rental rates beginning at $7 per hour. Discounts are available for groups of five or more. 501 L St., Downtown, Anchorage, AK, 99501. 907/250–2871. www.pablobicyclerentals.com. Daily 8–8.

Arctic Bicycle Club. This nonprofit bicycling club organizes races and rides. Anchorage, AK. 907/566–0177. www.arcticbike.org.

Downtown Bicycle Rental. With an inventory of more than 100 bikes of all types, Downtown Bicycle Rental also rents trailers, clip-in pedals and shoes. The minimum rental rate is $16 for three hours, which includes free lock, helmet, panniers, and trail map. Located five blocks from the Coastal Trail, the company offers combo hike-and-bike trips that include a shuttle van ride to the Flattop trailhead. Winter tourists can rent bikes with studded tires by prior arrangement. 333 W. 4th Ave., Downtown, Anchorage, AK, 99501. 907/279–5293. www.alaska-bike-rentals.com. May–Aug., daily 8–10 pm; Sept. daily 9–8; Oct. daily 10–7; Nov.–Apr. by appointment.

Kincaid Park. At the far west end of Raspberry Road in South Anchorage the 60 km (43 miles) of trails at Kincaid Park wind through 1,400 acres of mixed spruce and birch forest. Mountain bikers will find easy-to-moderate riding along with some challenging hills. Be advised that Kincaid Park is home to a sizable moose population, as well as the occasional bear, so stay alert at all times. Considered one of the best places for Nordic skiing in the United States, the park remains popular throughout the year. The Kincaid Outdoor Center—locally called Kincaid Chalet—is available for a fee for social functions such as weddings, receptions, and meetings. The park also has a climbing wall and a batting cage. 9401 W. Raspberry Rd., West Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99502. 907/343–6397.

Lifetime Adventures. Just 30 miles north of Anchorage, Lifetime Adventures operates out of the state park campground at Eklutna Lake. Lifetime rents bikes, trailers, and kayaks. You can take the popular Paddle & Pedal package in which you paddle in one direction and pedal your way back. Anchorage, AK. 800/952–8624 or 907/746–4644. www.lifetimeadventures.net.

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. Bike trails in Anchorage are used by runners, cyclists, in-line skaters, skiers and walkers. The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail begins Downtown off 2nd Avenue and is also easily accessible from Westchester Lagoon near the west end of 15th Avenue. The trail runs from the lagoon for 2 miles to Earthquake Park and then continues an additional 7 miles to Kincaid Park, where several unpaved trails provide for more adventurous biking and hiking. Those who prefer the off-road experience should pick up a copy of Mountain Bike Anchorage by Rosemary Austin. Anchorage, AK. anchoragecoastaltrail.com.

Bird-Watching

Popular bird-watching places include the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which provides access to Westchester Lagoon and nearby tide flats, along with Potter Marsh on the south end of Anchorage.

Audubon Society. The Anchorage chapter of the Audubon Society offers a downloadable list of the "Birds of Anchorage" on their Web site and can refer you to local birders who will advise you on the best bird-watching spots. The society also hosts bird-watching classes, field trips, and other events: a fun one is the Potter Marsh Birding Smackdown every May. Anchorage, AK, 99510. www.anchorageaudubon.org.

Wilderness Birding Adventures. Naturalists Lisa Moorehead and Bob Dittrick of Wilderness Birding Adventures offer backcountry birding, wildlife, and natural-history trips to remote parts of Alaska, as well as village-based, birding-focused trips to some of Alaska's birding hot spots. Anchorage, AK. 907/299–3937. www.wildernessbirding.com.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Local lakes and lagoons, such as Westchester Lagoon, Goose Lake, and Jewel Lake, have favorable conditions for canoeing and kayaking. More adventurous paddlers should head to Whittier or Seward for sea kayaking.

Kayak Adventures Worldwide. Take a guided trip in sea kayaks from Kayak Adventures Worldwide, which offers half-day trips to Resurrection Bay and a variety of full-day trips to Resurrection Bay and Aialik Bay. Kayaking classes teach basic sea-kayaking skills. The Seward-based outfitter also runs multiday trips in Kenai Fjords and offers customized booking dates plus a B&B. 328 Third Ave., Seward, AK, 99664. 907/224–3960. www.kayakak.com.

Alaska Rafts & Kayak. Rent or buy from a flotilla's worth of small boats, including kayaks, canoes, inflatable rafts, and one-man fishing pontoons. The store also rents float tubes. 401 W. Tudor Rd., Midtown, Anchorage, AK, 99503. 907/561–7238 or 800/606–5950. www.alaskaraftandkayak.com.

REI. REI sells and rents all sorts of outdoor gear, including canoes and sea kayaks. 1200 W. Northern Lights Blvd., Spenard, Anchorage, AK, 99503. 907/272–4565. www.rei.com/stores/anchorage.html.

Fishing

Nearly 30 local lakes and streams are stocked with catchable game fish. You must have a valid Alaska sportfishing license to fish in the state. Fishing licenses may be purchased at any Fred Meyer or Carr's/Safeway grocery or local sporting goods store, or online at www.admin.adfg.state.ak.us/buyonline. Nonresidents can buy an annual license or a 1-, 3-, 7-, or 14-day permit. A separate king salmon stamp is required to fish for the big guys. Rainbow trout, arctic char, landlocked salmon, Dolly Varden, grayling, and northern pike are among the species found in waters like Jewel Lake in South Anchorage and Mirror and Fire lakes near Eagle River. Coho salmon return to Ship Creek (Downtown) in August, and king salmon are caught there between late May and early July. Campbell Creek and Bird Creek just south of town are also good spots for coho—locally called silver—salmon. Anywhere in Alaska there are fish, it’s possible there are also bears, so stay aware.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Contact the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for licensing information. For information about Anchorage-area lakes, go to the Web site; click on Sport Fishing, the South Central portion of the "Fisheries by Area" map, and then Anchorage. Anchorage, AK. 907/267–2218. www.adfg.alaska.gov.

Flightseeing

This area is the state's air-travel hub. Plenty of flightseeing services operating out of city airports and floatplane bases can take you on spectacular tours of Mt. McKinley, the Chugach Range, Prince William Sound, Kenai Fjords National Park, and the Harding Icefield. Anchorage hosts the greatest number and variety of services, including companies operating fixed-wing aircraft, floatplanes, and helicopters.

Rust's Flying Service. An Anchorage company in business since 1963, Rust's will take you on narrated flightseeing tours of Mt. McKinley, Columbia Glacier, and Prince William Sound. Rust's also offers flights to the Alaska Peninsula for bear viewing, to various backcountry locations for one-to-three day fishing trips, and three- and five-night fly-in hiking trips to Denali National Park and Lake Clark National Park. The company also owns Talkeetna-based K2 Aviation. 4525 Enstrom Circle, West Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99502. 907/243–1595 or 800/544–2299. www.flyrusts.com.

Golf

Anchorage is Alaska's golfing capital, with several public courses. They won't compare to offerings in Phoenix or San Diego, but courses are open until 10 pm on long summer days, and at some courses the mountain views put the sights of most other courses to shame.

Anchorage Golf Course. Overlooking the Anchorage Bowl, this challenging course has 18 holes, a pro shop and bar, as well as great views. 3651 O'Malley Rd., South Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99507. 907/522–3363. www.anchoragegolfcourse.com. 18 holes. 6,600 yds. Par 72. Green Fee: $39/$66. Facilities: Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant, bar.

Moose Run Golf Course. Moose Run offers two 18-hole, scenic courses; the Creek Course boasts the longest layout in the state and is more challenging than the Hill Course. Moose Run has an unusual hazard: moose and bears live in the nearby woods. Keep your eyes peeled for moose and bears, and if an animal ambles onto the green, by all means let it play through. 27000 Arctic Valley Rd., East Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99505. 907/428–0056. www.mooserungolfcourse.com. 18 holes. 7,324/5,183 yds. Par 72. Green fee: $33/$49. Driving range, putting green, pitching area, golf carts, pull carts, rental clubs, pro shop, golf academy/lessons, restaurant.

For information on other courses around the state, check out www.alaskagolflinks.com.

Ice-Skating

Ice-skating is a favorite wintertime activity in Anchorage, with several indoor ice arenas, outdoor hockey rinks, and local ponds opening when temperatures drop. Though Alaska's early winters and cold temperatures often allow for pond skating as early as mid-November, call the Visitor's Center or the city’s parks and recreation department before stepping out onto pond ice.

Ben Boeke Ice Arena. Ben Boeke Ice Arena is a city-run indoor ice arena with open skating and skate rentals September to mid-March. 334 E. 16th Ave., Midtown, Anchorage, AK, 99501. 907/274–5715. www.benboeke.com.

Dimond Ice Chalet. An indoor ice rink at Dimond Mall, the Dimond Ice Chalet is open to the public daily. 800 E. Dimond Blvd., South Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 9515. 907/344–1212. www.dimondicechalet.com.

Westchester Lagoon. In winter, Westchester Lagoon, 1 mile south of downtown, is a favorite outdoor family skating area, with smooth ice, mountain views, and piles of firewood next to the warming barrels. Anchorage, AK. www.muni.org/departments/parks.

Other pond skating possibilities include Cheney Lake, Goose Lake, Potter Marsh, Jewel Lake, and Spenard Lake.

Running and Walking

Alaska Public Lands Information Center. Pick up a guide to local trails before you head out. They're available at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center or area bookstores. 605 W. 4th Ave., Downtown, Anchorage, AK, 99501. 907/644–3661 or 866/869-6887. www.alaskacenters.gov.

Alaska Run for Women. A number of popular running events are held annually in Anchorage, including the Alaska Run for Women in early June, which raises money for the fight against breast cancer. Anchorage, AK. www.akrfw.org.

Heart Run. The late-April Heart Run is a fund-raiser for the American Heart Association's work to prevent heart disease. Anchorage, AK. www.heartrun.com.

Mayor's Marathon. More than 4,000 runners participate in the Mayor's Marathon, which features five races folded into one: a marathon, marathon relay, half-marathon, 5.6 miler, and 1.6-mile youth cup. The race is held annually on the Saturday closest to summer solstice (June 21). Anchorage, AK. www.mayorsmarathon.com.

Skiing

Cross-country skiing is extremely popular in Anchorage. Locals ski or skate-ski on trails in town at Kincaid Park or Hillside and farther away at Girdwood Valley, Turnagain Pass, and Chugach State Park. Downhill skiing is convenient to Downtown. A number of cross-country ski events are held annually in Anchorage.

Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking. The locally owned outdoors shop Alaska Mountaineering & Hiking has a highly experienced staff and plenty of cross-country skis for sale or rent. 2633 Spenard Rd., Midtown, Anchorage, AK, 99503. 907/272–1811. www.alaskamountaineering.com.

Alaska Ski for Women. Held on Super Bowl Sunday in early February, Alaska Ski for Women is one of the biggest women's ski races in North America, attracting more than 1,200 skiers. Many of the skiers don crazy costumes for the event. Anchorage, AK. 907/276–7609. www.anchoragenordicski.com.

Alpenglow at Arctic Valley. Alpenglow at Arctic Valley is a small ski area just east of Anchorage. Mi 7, Arctic Valley Rd. off Glenn Hwy., just past Muldoon Exit, Anchorage, AK, 99505. 907/428–1208 ski hotline. www.skiarctic.net.

Alyeska Resort. Located 40 miles south in Girdwood, Alyeska Resort is Alaska's premier destination resort, where snowfall averages 650 inches annually. Alyeska features a day lodge, hotel, restaurants, nine lifts, a tram, a vertical drop of 2,500 feet, and 76 runs for all abilities. Lift tickets cost $65 for adults; $45 for night skiing. The tram is also open in summer ($25), providing access to Seven Glaciers restaurant and ridgeline hiking trails. Brave the stout hike up the mountain, and you can ride the tram down for free. 1000 Arlberg Ave, Girdwood, AK. 907/754–1111; 800/880–3880; 907/754–7669 recorded information and snow conditions; 907/753–2275 ticket office. www.alyeskaresort.com.

Hilltop Ski Area. On the eastern edge of town, Hilltop Ski Area is a favorite ski area for families. Abbott Rd. near Hillside Dr., East Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99507. 907/346–2167 ski hotline. www.hilltopskiarea.org.

Kincaid Park. On 1,400 acres of rolling, timbered hills and bordered on the west by Cook Inlet, Kincaid Park is a scenic treasure with maintained trails groomed for diagonal and skate-skiing. National cross-country skiing events (including U.S. Olympic team qualifying events and national masters championships) are sometimes held along the 60 km (37 miles) of interwoven trails—including 20 km (12 miles) that are lit for night skiing. The park is open year-round: for skiing in winter; and for mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor activities in summer. The Raspberry Road gates are open 10 am–10 pm. Main entrance at far west end of Raspberry Rd., 9401 W. Raspberry Rd., Southwest Anchorage, Anchorage, AK, 99502. 907/343–6397. www.muni.org/parks/parkdistrictsw.cfm.

Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage. The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage sponsors many ski races and events throughout winter, from wooden-ski classics to the highly competitive Besh Cup series. Anchorage, AK. www.anchoragenordicski.com.

REI. Ski and snowshoe sales and rentals are available from REI. 1200 W. Northern Lights Blvd., Midtown, Anchorage, AK, 99503. 907/272–4565. www.rei.com/stores/16.

Tour of Anchorage. The biggest ski race of all is the Tour of Anchorage, a grueling 50-km (31-mile) race in early March. If you're not up to doing 50k, there are 25k (16-mile) and 40k (25-mile) competitions as well. Anchorage, AK. www.tourofanchorage.com.

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