*If you have any questions that aren't answered in this post, please leave them in the comments section where I do my best to answer all Alaska related questions directly!
Before You Go Hiking in Alaska
When hiking in Alaska or anywhere else, please stay on the trail and follow Leave No Trace principals!
11 Most Incredible Waterfalls in Alaska
1. Nugget Falls, Juneau - Arguably one of the largest waterfalls in Alaska, Nugget Falls is also one of the most visited. Because it's located right in Juneau near Mendenhall Glacier, most cruise ship visitors that come through in the Summer season make sure to stop at this waterfall. The hike itself is mostly paved and very flat, about 1 mile each way, and begins at the Mendenhall Visitor Center. When you get closer to the falls itself you might need to cross a small flow of water, so I recommend wearing waterproof shoes or sandals like my Tevas. Juneau receives over 62" of annual rainfall every year, so chances are it might be a little muddy. You can also get very close to the falls themselves, so if you want to stay dry then you might also want to pack a poncho!
2. Thunderbird Falls, Anchorage - One of the closest waterfalls to Anchorage, this 1.8 mile "out and back" hike is a bit hilly - even though the total elevation is only 300 feet. The last time I visited was in the winter and it felt like a true wonderland, so I can't wait to visit again in the summer to update this post! There's a small parking lot at the trailhead of this hike, and unfortunately the area is known by locals as an area for car break-ins - SO, I don't recommend leaving anything in your car.
3. Barbara Falls (a.k.a. South Fork Falls), Eagle River - One of my personal favorites, this super short hike is also one of the closest to Anchorage. Although it's a little harder to find, I recommend parking in Ken Logan Circle before making your way down the road to the bridge and then down again to the right. As you follow the creek upstream, it'll soon bring you to a stunning, powerful waterfall. I do not recommend climbing on the rocks much as they can get very slippery, however if you visit in the winter it's a great spot to watch some ice climbers!
4. Virgin Creek Falls, Girdwood - Another stunning waterfall near Anchorage, this is a great hike to add to your list if you're planning to visit the Alyeska Resort! There isn't really parking at the trailhead, so you'll have to park on the street on Timberline Drive. Once you start hiking, there's a few different areas along the trail that'll either bring you to the bottom, middle, or top of the falls. Each area is stunning, and I highly recommend that you explore each of them while you're here. It's worth noting that bears are often spotted in the Girdwood area, so make sure to stay bear aware!
5. Solomon Gulch Creek, Valdez - One of most unique waterfalls in Alaska, this is an incredible spot to also spot some wildlife! As for hiking, I'll be honest...this isn't much of a hike. With a large parking lot right on the water, you can literally walk across the street to see these incredible views. And if you're as lucky as Tyler and I were, you might even see a lone sea lion making it's way up to the waterfall! In the late summer/fall, chances are you'll see quite a few bears around as well!
6. & 7. Horsetail Falls & Bridal Veil Falls, Valdez - Another easier "hike" on my list, you'll only be able to see these waterfalls if you're driving to or from Valdez. Located about 17 miles outside of town, you can literally park your car into the pull off and view the waterfalls right from the road. Each of these waterfalls is about 300 feet high, making for a stunning roadside attraction.
8. Ketchikan Falls, Ketchikan - Possibly one of the smallest waterfalls on my list, Ketchikan Falls only made it because it also happens to be one of the most unique. Running right through the center of the infamous Creek Street, this falls is quite picturesque, and is exactly the view you would picture if you were told a story about miners moving to Alaska to find gold.
9. 2nd Salmon Run Falls, Whittier - One of the most beautiful waterfalls in Alaska, this might also be one of the hardest to find. There's technically no "trail head," although there's a path following the river up to the base of the falls. To get there you'll need to head towards the end of Shotgun Cove Trail until you see the sign for the bridge spanning across 2nd Salmon Run. From here you can pull off and park on the side of the road before following the trail up a slight incline for about half a mile.
10. Emerald Cove Trail, Whittier - One of the more popular hikes in Whittier, it's for good reason. This hike takes you through a few different waterfalls of different heights, ending at a stunning cove that can often have marine wildlife floating through like seals, otters, and sometimes even whales in the distance! It's important to note that this hike can get especially muddy, so make sure to wear shoes and clothes you don't mind getting muddy!
11. Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park - Brooks Falls is my favorite waterfall, ever. However it's not for the waterfall itself, it's for the BEARS. Chances are you've heard of these bears and you might have even seen them on YouTube. Known as one of the best brown bear viewing areas in the entire world, you can get up close and personal to the grizzlies here who are only interested in chowing down on the next salmon coming up the falls. The only downside is that this is also the hardest and most expensive waterfall to get to on my list due to the fact that you'll have to take a 1-ish hour flight, and it'll have to be through a tour like this one, but I promise it'll be a truly incredible experience that you'll never forget! (Watch my video from Brooks Falls here!)
Other Alaska blog posts you might be interested in :
-> 15 Easiest Alaska Glaciers to Visit
-> Where to Rent Bear Spray in Alaska
-> 7 Best Tours in Alaska
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In 2021 my husband Tyler convinced me to move to Alaska. After living there for a year (then leaving to take a year long world trip) we realized there was no place we loved more. So now we're back - and I'm here to share all my best tips and hidden gems to make
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