McHugh Lake & Rabbit Lake trail is in Chugach State Park. It is only about 20 minutes away from down town Anchorage (40 min from Girdwood). Actually, for this reason, I didn’t really want to hike this trail. “Selfishly”, I don’t like to share a trail with lots of people. Flat Top Mountain trail, which is not too far away from McHugh Lake, is very popular. There were lots of people when I hiked there a couple of weeks ago. Frankly speaking, I don’t enjoy wilderness when it is crowded. It certainly takes away the feel of being in the wild.
However, “jewel-like lakes” in the description of McHugh Lake trail attracted my attention. I love seeing jewel-like lakes. So I decided to go, even if I have to share the beautiful lakes with others.
When I reached the Rabbit Lake Trail head in the morning, I knew I didn’t have to worry about sharing the beauty with anyone – no car was parked there! In fact, I don’t know how people can find this trail head, if they don’t do any homework like I did online. There is simply no sign what so ever about the trail!
I followed the direction online, but had to stop driving when the sign says “not maintained road, drive on your own risk”. I parked under the sign and walked on the “un-maintained road”, luckily for only 10-15 minutes before I reached the trail head. All the while, I felt lucky I didn’t take the chance to drive up. The road is in terrible condition. Worse yet, there is no way to turn back once you start driving up.
The hike was actually easier than getting there. J It is about 5 miles (one way) to reach both lakes. But the elevation gain is only a little over 1000 feet. And the trail is in pretty good condition, mostly in a valley already above the tree line. I like the openness – only not it feels great to be able to see far away without being blocked by the trees, but more importantly, it feels safer being able to survey the environment for dangerous animals. Bear is always a constant fear.
And you can see very far from this trail – even Mt McKinley was visible. I didn’t think I would see it again after I left the area 3 weeks ago.
Along the way, there were also blue berries and crow berries. Needless to say, I picked and ate some of them. One great thing about hiking in areas like this is you don’t have to worry about starve or thirsty to death. The berries will save your life. J
At about 4.5 miles, I saw the first lake. Rabbit Lake is clear and pretty. But it is not jewel-like, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I had a great time hiking more than half way around the lake before I kept on going.
Then I saw it! The jewel-like greenish/bluish McHugh Lake! It is small, but the color is so lovely! With red vegetation, the scenery was picturesque! I sat there, marveled the incredible beauty, taking it all in, with only Doll Sheep and Ground Squirrels sharing it with me!
How could anyone imagine such a wild and spectacular place so close to a large city? Not only there is no one around, but also there is no man made things except the trail itself. I felt so lucky that I decided to come here. I am so grateful to witness such a natural beauty. I was rich — I had two jewel-like lakes today, all to myself!
PS. my photo website: http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/qing-yang.html