Hillside and Hilltop Park
Hillside and Hilltop park is a part of Far North Bicentennial Park system. Both parks are located on Abbott Road. Hillside Park is located on next to the Hilltop Ski Area sign or park at Hilltop Ski Area. Hilltop Chalet is open year around.
Trails of Hillside and Hilltop Park
Most of major tails are developed for mid-advanced cross country ski. Most trails are wide and have many ups and downs. This make it easier for beginning hikers.
Direction to the Hillside Park
From downtown, take New Seward Highway toward Seward. Exit at Dimond Blvd. Take left to Abbott Rd. After passing Lake Otis Pkwy, Elmore Rd, and Service High school, enter a parking lot on left, just before the Hilltop Ski Area Entrance. For access to the Hilltop Ski Area, follow the sign to the end.
Ski Trail Loops: Summer Only
Map created by the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage
Hillside-Service Loop: 3.4 miles
Difficulty: moderate ups and downs
From the parking lot, go into the ski sign, and take right up-slope trail. As you hike up the trail, it will merge into a wide trail turning to left down slope. At the end of the slope, you will be at Jen’s Junction. Take the left slightly up-slope trail. The trail bends left and down sloping. Stay on the wide main trail ignoring side trails, you will reach a four corner, called Conversation Corner. Take right down-slope trail. At the next intersection, take right trail. The trail bends right, taking gradual down slope. As you hike this side, you will hear sounds on your left. You are hiking behind Service High School. As trail takes a sharp left turn, you will be hiking at the edge of the school. View of Chugachi mountains from this section of the trail is super. Once you are up on the stadium, go straight toward the mountain. Trail continues at the other side of the Stadium. As you take the wide dirt trail, go straight of the first for corner. Right after passing the four corner, take right wide down slope trail. You will momentarily out of the forest, waling the side of open field. The trail joins with paved bike trail, but keep on left dirt trail. The left dirt trail diverges toward left up slope. With several ups and downs, you are back to the Conversation Corner. From here, take right up-slope trail. It takes another ups and downs and reaches the highest point. At this point, enjoy the view of mountains. As you descends, the trail bends up-slope left and reach an intersection. From here, take right down slope trail. When the trail forks, keep on right trail, and you will be back to the parking lot.
Bash-Richter Loop: 4.2 miles
Difficulty: moderate ups and downs
Richter Loop is a beautiful loop that goes through birch trees. The trail is narrower and hilly because it was designed for classical skies. The trail name Richter is named after Don Richter who built the trail.
From the parking lot,take left uphill trail. The trail veers left down slope to Jan’s Junction. From this junction, take right trail. The trail gradually becomes uphill slope and goes along the Hilltop Ski Area. As the trail descends, it forks. Take left fork. At the T intersection, take left up slope trail. At the top of the up slope trail, you will see a narrow ski trail om right with sign Richter Loop. Richter Loop consists of Richter Loop and Richter Ridge Loop. At the next fork, take the right fork to the Richter Ridge Loop. The first half of the Ridge Loop goes through woods with moderate ups and downs. As trail bends up slope left, you will be walking along the edge. Through trees, you can see mountains and downtown. At the T intersection, take left to continue the Richter Loop. The down slope trail veers right and take hair pin left. There is a a trail going right. This right trail connects to Richter trail with Bog Trail. Take left main trail that will take you back to the wide Besh Loop. At the Besh Loop connection, take right to finish the loop. The Loop takes hairpin left and right to go back to the Jane’s Junction. For short cut, go straight at the hairpin curve and take left to the junction. From the junction take left up-slope trail, and take left fork back to the parking lot.
Note: You can also start this loop from the Hilltop Ski Area Parking lot.
Spencer Loop: 4.9 miles
(Double-Bubble: 0.8 mile, S-Turns: 0.4 mile, First Loop:1.8 miles, Second Loop: 1.9 miles)
Difficulty: steep ups and downs
Spencer Loop consists ot 4 distict loops. Depending on time and energy, choose loop combinations. Unlike other ski trails, this loop will get a good elevation gain.
From the end of the Hilltop Ski Area Parking lot, go right and take left at next intersection. As you go wide upslope trail (Besh Loop), you will see a Spencer loop sign on right. The trail goes uphill and downhill turn right. From here, it turns up-slope left and down-slope right coming out to the Gasline Trail. Across the Gasline trail, you will see an entrance of continuing Spencer Loop (S-Turns).
S-Turns is a small hillside loop. Go up-slope 0.2 miles and sharp left down hill turn reaching to the end of the Gasline Trail.
First Spencer Loop
At the end of the wide Gasline trail, you will see two down hill trails on right. Take whichever trails, and both will take you to a bridge crossing the Campbell Creek. In winter, one is multi-use trail, and the other is ski-only trail. At the bridge, the first Spencer loop goes on right. The trail goes to the Campbell Creek (this section could be muddy in early spring). As you proceed, the the up-slope trail become steeper, taking several turns. Near the top of the Spencer Loop, the trail bends sharp right. ( On right, there is a narrow trail on left. This trail connects to the Prospect Heights Trailhead.) Continue hiking up the trail, and you will reach the highest point of the Spencer Loop. Take a good breath and enjoy the view. From here, you will be descending, with small ups and downs. About 0.8 miles from the highest point is the first short cut, or the end of the First Spencer Loop. Take this short cut and go left downhill trail back to the Gasline trail. To continue the second half of the Spencer Loop, continue the trail.
Second Spencer Loop
About 0.1 mile from the short-cut, the upslope trail bends left. (The straight trail short cuts the most of the second loop.) The trail continues up hill and take down hill crossing the Upper Gasline Trail. After crossing the Gasline trail, it continues ups and downs. You may feel that this constant winding ups and downs would never end. But, believe me, it’s not that long, but feels long. On the way, the trail goes side of the Hilltop Ski Area. With several turns, you finally go down back to the Gasline trail and to the parking lot.
Multi-Use Trails: All Season
During Winter, after snow fall, all ski trails are groomed and become ski only. Multi-use trails are available for all trail users. Hillside Park has two multi-use trails, both are connected to the adjacent Bicentennial Park.
Tour of Anchorage Trail: 25 miles to Kincaid Park
Difficulty: moderate ups and downs
Tour of Anchorage Trail is named after Tour of Anchorage cross country ski racing event, skiing from Hillside to Kincaid Park. Entire length is 25 miles.
At Hilltop/Hillside Parking lot, trailhead is marked with orange dog sled sign on your left (West side). Go into this trail. Once you reached a bridge, take right paved bike path. After the trail passed Service High School field, take left trail to woods. This trail crosses two Ski trails, and you are in the Tour of Anchorage trail. Go as long as you want.
Gasline Trail: 0.5 mile to the end from Hilltop,
From Hillside Parking lot, trailhead is marked with orange dog sled sign on your right (East side). In 0.5 mile, this trail will take you to the Hilltop Ski Area parking lot. Follow the dog sled sign, and you will reach really wide trail. This is the Gasline trail. Go till the end (0.5 mile). At the end, you can directly go down the slope, or take a trail on your right going down to South Fork Campbell creek. In summer, you will see salmon swiming and spawning. For further connection, take Rover’s Run trail along side of the creek. (NOTE: During salmon run seaon, you may encounter bears!!)
Singletrack Bike Trail Loops
Singletrack Bike trails are newly created loops along the Hillside Trails. Unlike ski trails, these trails are narrow (single track), mostly moderate slope, and very curvy (may be too curvy for hiking).
Other Hiking Trails
Hillside-Hilltop is adjacent to Bicentennial and Chugach State Park, and has several moderate hiking trails.
Upper Gasline Trail: 2.7 miles (round trip)
Upper Gasline trail is a straight trail that connects between Hilltop ski area and Prospect Heights. This amounts to 500 feet elevation gain in a distance of 1 mile. Trail is well established, and downtown view from the top of the trail makes it worthwhile.
From Hilltop parking lot, take wide Gasline trail to east. In 0.3 mile, you will find a straight slope on right. The first 1/4 mile is the steepest. Once you pass the steepest section, the trail become a series of steep and moderate upslope. Make sure to look back and enjoy the view. Take the same route coming back.
Black-Brown Bear Trail Loop (AKA: Mutiny Loop): 2.5 miles (round trip)
Difficulty: moderate up and down
For some, this loop is known as Mutiny Loop because whenever we take this loop we encounter some happening. The loop itself is not that difficult; however, you will be hiking trhough dense woods entire time. This makes it hard to grasp where you really are.
From Hilltop parking lot, take wide Gasline trail to the end. From here, go straight down to the South Fork Campbell Creek. When you reach the Creek, take left trail along the Creek. This trail is the southern part of the Rover’s Run. (Note: During Salmon run season, trail may be closed because of high bear activity.) At an intersection, take left trail (Moose Meadow Trail). At next intersection about 0.15 mile, take left to the Black bear trail. This trail is narrow and less maintained and wet. After crossing a small stream, the trail starts to go up. About 1/4 miles into the Black bear trail, look for an upslop trail on left. This is the brown bear trail. This narrow trail goes along the ridge. It can be slippery after rain. Length of this section is about a half mile, but you may feel it longer. As you pass the ridge, the trail veers right and hit T-intersection. Take left trail, and you will come out to the wide open Gasline trail. Take Gasline trail back to the parking lot.