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Alaska Gravel Biking Trip

Karen Richardson | Published on 7/11/2021

Alaska has been on my list of must visit places for a very long time so when my friend and Sorella teammate Katie Pothier said she was going and asked if anyone wanted to join I jumped on it! (Well, first I floated the idea by my husband, and he was on board!) Katie would be the perfect tour guide having grown up in Alaska and we were excited to go explore!

Katie did her research and planned everything which included splitting our time between Girdwood and Cooper Landing. After the long plane ride and getting our rental vehicle squared away, we drove to Girdwood and crashed for the night. I’m starting Day 1 with the next morning as the first real day was all travel and no play.

Some highlights before I get into each days activities. Food was very good. In Girdwood we found our favorite coffee/bakery and went there everyday for breakfast. Sourdough pancakes, cinnamon rolls, tasty omelettes and good coffee, we tired most everything. We bought a loaf of their sourdough bread and made sandwiches for our bike rides. Mosquitoes are very big there, and they are persistent! Daylight was crazy this time of year, we basically had full sunlight the entire day. Dusk was only about 3 hours starting around 10:30pm. We saw only a few moose, but they were very cool. Bald eagles were all over which was very awesome to see.

Day 1 - Girdwood
Assembled our gravel bikes and went on our first ride! We rode up Crow Creek Road which was quite a nice climb, and then cruised a bit on the Bird to Gird bike path.

Day 2 - Girdwood
The morning started with a run to Virgin Creek Falls, followed by a very cool bike ride to Portage Glacier Lake. There was not much to see of the glacier from where we stopped, but we did see a nice little blob of an iceberg in the lake. This was a very cool ride which included a fun roller coaster like ride on a dirt and crush gravel path.

Day 3 - Girdwood
Another bike ride that involved a very technical single track steep descent to a hand tram (that was actually closed). This terrified me! This was a short ride so I went back out later and did the Crow Creek Road climb again, followed by more miles on the Bird to Gird bike path in search of moose. Unfortunately no moose sightings.

Day 4 - Moved from Girdwood to Cooper Landing
Morning run in Girdwood before heading out to our next stop in Cooper Landing. On our drive we stopped near Hope and did a ride up Palmer Creek Rd and past the Coeur d’Alene campground where we encountered a big patch of snow on the road. Katie rode right on through, I didn’t quite make it. This ride was way out there, we saw only 2 hikers, otherwise we were the only ones. Peaceful and quiet, beautiful views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 5 - Cooper Landing
We did a short hike before riding Skilak Lake Road. This ride was full of mosquitoes, they were relentless! There were also 2 bear sightings! I missed both, but my husband Tom saw the first one heading out, a black bear. And then Katie & Tom saw the second one heading back in, a brown bear. The gravel was a bit rough on this road and there were lots of steep long climbs.

Day 6 - Cooper Landing
We left the bikes and headed to Seward for a day of salmon fishing. Weather was not great so we had to do our fishing in a cove that required us to go into the rough ocean to get there. It felt like we were in a washing machine! Once in the cove we saw lots of wildlife including otter, sea lions, porpoises, and a couple of humpback whale! The salmon were not cooperating and we only managed to catch 2 the entire day. Backup plan was rock fish, they were much easier to catch. (I was a little shocked when the baseball bat came out and the captain clubbed the poor fish!)

Day 7 - Left Cooper Landing and headed to Anchorage
We went on 2 hikes - one to Juneau Falls and then to Exit Glacier on our way back to Anchorage. Exit Glacier was so awesome, we were able to get up pretty close and see the brilliant shades of blue in the ice.

Day 8 - Anchorage
Last day spent in Anchorage, included a short run near our hotel. Back to airport for an evening flight.

This was such a great trip, we had so much fun. I definitely recommend visiting Alaska if you have the opportunity, and bring your bike!

Extra special THANKS to Katie for planning everything. And also credit goes to her for a lot of these photos!

Alaska Gravel 2021