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Sprawling east of Chugach State Park, Chugach National Forest encompasses nearly 6 million acres. The forest covers most of the Kenai Peninsula and parts of Prince William Sound, and is the second-largest national forest in the United States, exceeded in size only by the Tongass in Southeast Alaska.
The forest has abundant recreational opportunities: hiking, camping, backpacking, fishing, boating, mountain biking, horseback riding, hunting, and flightseeing. Southcentral Alaska is not the best terrain for rock climbing (aside from Denali), as the rock is predominantly composed of hardened ocean sediments that are weak and crumbly. There are, however, some places for great bouldering, and in the wintertime ice climbing is quite popular, as are snowshoeing, skiing, snowmachining, and dog mushing.
Hiking trails offer easy access into the heart of the forest. You can spend a day hiking or looking for wildlife, or you can embark on a multiday backpacking excursion. At all but
the most popular trailheads a five-minute stroll down a wooded trail can introduce you to the sights, smells, and tranquillity of backcountry Alaska.
Be prepared to be self-sufficient when entering Chugach Forest. Trailheads typically offer nothing more than a place to park and perhaps an outhouse. Running water, trail maps, and other amenities are not available. Also, be "bear aware" whenever you travel in bear country—and all of Alaska is bear country. In recent years urban and rural bear attacks have been on the rise in Southcentral. Try to hike in groups or pairs. Pay attention to your surroundings, and make noise when traveling, especially in areas of reduced visibility. Bears will most likely make themselves scarce with some advance warning of your arrival.
, Alaska, USA
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