McHugh Falls, Alaska

McHugh Falls in May 2011

I have to admit McHugh Falls doesn’t have a huge amount of appeal.  It’s a rather small waterfall, and I don’t like to discriminate against waterfalls, but you really can’t get very close to it.  With small waterfalls, they’re best enjoyed nearby, not behind a fenced area.

It’s one redeeming quality is that it is very easy to visit.  I believe there are a number of unadvertised waterfalls in Alaska, but how many are actually accessible?  This is one of the few that is accessible.  As you driving south along the Seward Highway from Anchorage, you’ll enter Chugach State Park (which is very expansive), and pass the parking area for McHugh Falls.  There’s a $5 daily fee to enter the park, which I always support paying, though the first time I visited, I just got out of the car and took a few photos, and then left.  There is a trail that leads somewhere, though I’m not sure where.

Directions:

  1. Head south on the Seward Highway from Anchorage.
  2. You’ll enter Chugach State Park, and after a ways, you’ll find the entrance/parking area for the falls on your left.  It may be easy to miss, so pay attention.  I’d say it’s about a 1/4 of the way from Anchorage to Seward…

Accessibility: 10/10 (Easy)
Height: 20′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is McHugh Falls?

Seward Highway Falls, Alaska

Seward Highway Falls in May 2011

There are a number of waterfalls along the Seward Highway, especially near Chugach State Park. This waterfall here is located further south than the others, and is rather unexpected. I had written down the GPS coordinates, though I seem to have misplaced them.

The falls are found right near a large gravel parking area, and very easy to view once you find them. They are not particularly tall, maybe about 15-20′? I didn’t spend a whole lot of time visiting the falls since I was needed to arrive in Seward by a certain time. Still, it’s a simple stop on the side of the road.

Directions:

  1. Head south from Anchorage along the Seward Highway. It’s found further south, past Chugach State Park. I think the falls are past the split toward Whittier.
  2. As your heading toward Seward, the falls will be on your right.
  3. They are found on the far right of a “parking” area, as I’m not really sure why there’s such a large cleared area off of the side of the road.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Easy)
Height: ~15′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is Seward Highway Falls?

Waterfalls Near Holgate Glacier, Alaska

Waterfall near Holgate Glacier (May 2011)

It always seems a little bit odd to me that there aren’t that many named waterfalls in Alaska. For such a huge place, it’s hard finding information about waterfalls. There are a lot more waterfalls than are listed, but it’s also understandable that in such a sparsely populated place, some aren’t known by many. Others pop up when glaciers and snow melts, and might only be around for short periods of time.

When I visited Kenai Fjords National Park, I took a tour on a cruise boat, and on the itinerary was Holgate Glacier. As you approach Holgate Glacier, there are a number of different waterfalls. Some of them are somewhat difficult to differentiate from the snow above, but while narrow, they’re also surprisingly tall. The two vertical photos are waterfalls that were nearer to Holgate Glacier. The horizontal picture was a set of five waterfalls that were further from the glacier, if I remember correctly.

Waterfall near Holgate Glacier

Directions:

  1. Well, head to Seward, Alaska, and take one of the cruises. In this case, hope that you’re headed to Holgate Glacier, as you might instead visit one of the other glaciers. It will probably be useful to have a lens that can zoom up pretty closely, as you might be somewhat far from the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: hundreds of feet
Length of Hike: N/A (viewed from cruise)

 

Five falls in Kenai Fjords National Park

Where in the World are the Waterfalls near Holgate Glacier?

South Fork Eagle River Falls, Alaska

There are at least two easy-to-visit waterfalls in the Anchorage area. This is the easier of the two to visit, South Fork Eagle River Falls (which shows up on Google Maps as Barbara Falls). There is some steepness, but the trail is short at 0.5 miles one-way, meaning you won’t exert yourself too much. (There is another trail that is longer that also leads to the falls.)

Now, one thing I want to mention about the falls is that the parking area is VERY near private property. Make sure you do NOT trespass on any property, and it seems to be all around the path… I even doubted that there was parking allowed, but it does seem to be. Once you get to the falls, there area a lot of barriers preventing further exploration, and I decided not to do that. It just doesn’t seem safe or appropriate. The fencing must be there for a reason. This did mean that I wasn’t able to get the greatest of photos, but that was more due to the angle of the sun. It actually brightened the trees up a lot, but didn’t really ruin the waterfall itself.

August 2014 “Update”: There’s not really a whole lot to update. I followed the same set of directions, with the same set of warnings about being careful about private property! This time, the sun wasn’t really out, so the view was much better. (My camera also wasn’t broken, which usually helps!)

Directions:

  1. Head north of Anchorage along AK-1 to the exit for the Eagle River Loop.
  2. Drive only 0.2 miles to Hiland Dr., and turn right.
  3. Drive on Hiland Rd. for a little over 3 miles, and turn left onto River Park Drive.
  4. It gets very confusing, as River VIEW Drive then turns into Waterfall Drive suddenly.
  5. Head to the end of Waterfall Drive, and turn right onto River PARK Drive.
  6. Head to the end of River Park Drive, and take the LEFT fork onto Ken Logan Circle.
  7. The parking area is at the very end.
  8. From the parking lot, head to the blocked road, cross the bridge, and then turn right at the sign indicating the Falls.
  9. Head up the trail. Near the end, it splits again. Head right. (The left is marked as private property). Heading right, you should end up at the waterfall in a very short distance.

Accessibility: 8/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: 60′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

South Fork Eagle River Falls in August 2014

South Fork Eagle River Falls in May 2011

Where in the World is South Fork Eagle River Falls?