Thursday, July 30, 2015

McHugh Creek Picnic Area - a day use park in Girdwood, Alaska

McHugh Creek Picnic Area - a day use park in Chugach State Park in Girdwood, Alaska. The park is about 10 miles from Anchorage on Seward Highway. The scenery is spellbinding. Take your time as you drive out. It took about 20 minutes to get to the McHugh Creek park by following the speed limit. Although it has an Anchorage address, the park is often listed as Girdwood. Either way, it's on the left at milepost 111 on Seward Highway. Parking isn't a problem as the lot is large and level.

A family was munching on a picnic when we arrived, but the main draw is the Rabbit and McHugh Lakes Trail. Measured one way, this is a 6.4 mile hike that goes from deceptively easy to fairly vigorous in short order. I had to pass on the views until next time because my foot still isn't ready for anything difficult. However, I did find ways to enjoy my visit.

A paved area around the creek is ADA accessible. A railing goes along the walkway and the rise isn't steep. The parking area sidewalk is directly in front of the creek's waterfall. It was nice to stand there and just watch the water for a few minutes. Photo opportunities are also found in the flora around the creek, the waterfall itself, as well as birds and small wildlife.

Keep in mind that McHugh Creek Picnic Area is a bear area. Wildlife watching isn't just something to do. It's a necessity on the trail and enjoyable in and around the creek and parking area. We didn't see any bears, but we did keep our eyes open - and our cameras ready.

Parking is $5.00 or free if you have an annual pass. The fees add up pretty quickly. An annual pass is $50 (as of this writing) and is worth the investment if you're going to see more of Chugach State Park or other Alaska state parks.

We were there for over an hour and felt that was enough time to enjoy the park. A hike may make it an all day activity or at least an afternoon.