Williwaw Lakes Hikes in Anchorage, Alaska
Updated December 2023, The Williwaw Lakes Hike in Anchorage, Alaska was originally written in July 2019
Can you believe I’ve lived just outside Anchorage my entire life and I’ve never done the Williwaw Lakes Hike?
I’ll admit, I’ve not done much hiking in Anchorage aside from Flat Top a couple of times and Rabbit Lakes (I usually stick a little closer to Eagle River, Eklutna, and Hatcher Pass).
Well, I finally took to it last summer with a group of friends, and of course, it was during that insane heatwave that brought us 91ºF in Anchorage, which I wasn’t sure I’d ever live to see.
The verdict even though we were sweating in the heat? Totally worth it. Williwaw Lakes can be done as a long day hike, but you can easily do like we did and haul in camping gear and spend a night up here along the chain of lakes.
Looking for more day hike ideas? Check out 16 best day hikes near Anchorage
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Like many hikes into Chugach State Park in east Anchorage, there’s a spider web of trails that all come from a small handful of trailheads. In the case of Williwaw Lakes, you can either start from Glen Alps Trailhead (go to the big lot that most everyone starts Flat Top from and drive through it to reach the smaller, lower lot), or you can start from Prospect Heights Trailhead a little further north.
The Glen Alps Trailhead is a little shorter and less elevation gain with 5.5 miles to the first lake and 800 feet respectively. Prospect Heights Trailhead is a little more effort at 7.5 miles and 1200 feet elevation gain.
Worth noting is that you can also access Williwaw Lakes from Basher Trailhead, Upper O’Malley Trailhead, and Upper Huffman Trailhead, though these will take you on a longer adventure.
Looking for more? Why not check out nearby Rabbit Lake
I’m going to go over the Glen Alps Trailhead out and back route because that’s what we opted to do (though we had wanted to make it as a loop taking the route back via Little O’Malley Peak and the Ballfield but decided against it because it was too damn hot out).
Glen Alps Trailhead
Being one of the more popular hikes in the Anchorage area you likely won’t feel that way once you get out here. With nine different lakes to choose from to set up camp at you can still get your peace and solitude.
Starting from the Glen Alps Trailhead you’ll take the Powerline access to Powerline Trail heading southeast on the trail for a short stint before taking a trail that meanders east off of Powerline Trail to cross South Fork Campbell Creek and meet with the Middle Fork Loop Trail (at this point you could also opt to continue east and hike Little O’Malley Peak and to Williwaw Lakes via the Ballfield and Black Lake).
Once at Middle Fork Loop continue north until you meet with Williwaw Lakes Trail. On the Williwaw Lakes trail, follow it east until you arrive at the first lake. You can easily continue on to the other Williwaw Lakes beyond from here.
I know this hike may sound a little confusing with how many times you change trails, but just know that these trails are all signposted and obvious.
There are parts of Williwaw Lakes Trail that were muddy and sloppy even in 90ºF temperatures in July, so waterproof hiking boots are helpful (but hot).
Prospect Heights Trailhead
If coming from Prospect Heights Trailhead you’ll need to take the Wolverine Bowl Trail (which can also be used to access Wolverine Peak) east to meet with the Middle Fork Loop Trail. Head south on Middle Fork Loop until you meet Williwaw Lakes Trail and continue east on it to the lakes.
Heading to Anchorage? Plan your visit with my Anchorage Travel Guide
Camping At Williwaw Lakes
You can set up camp near any of the nine lakes in the area. You’ll need to carry in your own camping gear and carry out all your waste.
There are bears, moose, and other wild animals back in this area, so I recommend getting a Bear vault to keep food and any scented items from attracting any wildlife. Find a place far from your camp to stash it, and as always cook your meals a little ways away from your tents.
When dealing with human excrement always remember to dig a hole at least 5 inches deep and bury it and make sure you’re 50 yards from water and camp.
What To Pack
- Hiking boots
- Water bottle/hydration reservoir and water purification kit
- Tent, camp stove, sleeping bag, and a sleeping mat if planning to camp
- Layering clothing
- Bear vault
- Camera and/or phone
- Solar charger/battery bank
- Williwaw Lakes is a year-round hike. It is possible to visit in winter, though the trail via Little O’Malley Peak and the Ballfield aren’t recommended due to avalanche danger.
- Dogs are allowed on the trail.
- There is a $5 per day parking fee. You can also get an annual state parks parking pass for $50.
- There are bears back in this area, make sure to pick up a can of bear spray at an outdoor shop in Anchorage.
- A bear vault is a wise purchase if planning to camp.
- For a map and quick info click here.
Have Any Questions About Williwaw Lakes?
Ask in the comments section below.