University Lake Park
University Lake Park is one of the most popular park in Anchorage. The park is located in U-Med area. The park is frequented by dog owners and designaed as off-leash dog park. Despite its popularity, this park does not have a clearly marked parking area!! An “Official” parking space is a unmarked dirt 4 car space between Ambassador Dr. and University Lake Dr. However, many people “Unofficially” park behind the University building on University Lake Dr. or behind the Alaska Native Medical Center on Ambassador Dr. University Lake Park actually also consists of 3 land holders: Municiparity of Anchorage, Alaska Pacific University, and the University of Alaska Anchorage, though their boundaries are not clearly marked. This sometimes causes conflicts among users. For instance, dog off-leash area is limited only at Municiparity land on west side of the lake.
Most peole takes a trail circling around the lake. The trail is wide and frat, great for kids and strollers. For more rigorous hike, take a cross country ski trail behind the APU building. The trail is named Jim Mahaffey Trail, named after Jim Mafaffey, a local Nordic Ski leader. The trail goes through the woods, and you can easily forget that you are in the middle of city.
Jim Mahaffey Trail
Jim Mahffey Trail starts at near narrow section of the University lake. You will find a uphill trail with a sign “Skiing Only.” The uphill trail goes on the side of a bilding (Grace Hall, where USGS resides). As soon as you reach the top of the slope, the trail goes steep downhill bending to left along the soccer field. The trail turns left with gradual uphill and you are at the 4 way trail. Take left straight trail that goes to the APU campus. The trail turn straight right to the woods. At end, take left. The winding trail goes arond backyard of the APU housings. At end, you will find a one way sign pointing left uphill trail. This is the steepest slope of entire trail. Take your time, and go up. At the top of the trail, you will find a building on the left. The builing is the APU Atwood Center. From there, the trail goes downhill and takes steep right turn and goes on the side of KSKA building. From here, the trail goes straight back. On you right, you will see the uphill trail you just have taken. The trail branches left and straight. The left trail will take you to outer circle of the Mahaffey trail. The straight trail take you the trail you just came.
Let’s take straight trail that takes you back to a trail along the APU housing. At the intersection, take left that goes slight uphill and bents right and back to 4 way crossing. Take left sharp downhill trail. The right trail takes you back to the soccer field. Take left uphill trail further back to the woods.