One of the first things I noticed upon arrival in Anchorage, AK was quite a few people on the city streets wearing cans of bear spray on their belts. Considering the trails I planned to explore around Seward, renting a can quickly become one of the first orders of business. Black bears are something to consider on the Oregon and Washington trails I am accustomed to, but I hadn’t carried bear spray while running or hiking before. I never did see a grizzly, but having that can at the ready while on the trails was a reminder that I was not in Kansas anymore.
Seward is a small fishing town on the Kenai Peninsula. The 2.5-hour drive south from Anchorage weaves through continuous, ridiculously scenic mountain views if you are lucky enough to have clear skies, as we did. Seward sits in an idyllic position on Resurrection Bay, surrounded by steep, rocky peaks reaching up to 4,000’-5,000’ and dripping with glaciers. I think this is my kind of place.
The 4019′ summit of Bear Mountain in the Kenai Mountains is only a little over two miles from Seward. I scrambled my way near the top for spectacular views of Mt. Marathon, Seward, and the Kenai Peninsula.
Most Alaskans would ask, why use switchbacks when you can go straight up the mountain? Nothing is more evident than the iconic Mt. Marathon that looks over Seward. Every 4th of July, hundreds run the 5kish race to the top and back down, and thousands flock to Seward to watch it.
Not far from Seward is Harding Ice Field Trail, in the Kenai Fjords National Park visitors center. Like all the trails in Seward, this is a steep and beautiful climb. The trails are parallel to the Exit Glacier at their peaks.
Mt. Marathon is the most well-known trail race in Alaska. It’s only 5k, but the ascent, descent, and trail technicality make it much more challenging than a road 5k. Kilian Journet’s course record in 2015 (41:48) was broken the next year by David Morris (41:26.) Emelie Forsberg holds the women’s record with a time of 47:48 in 2015.
Lost Lake Trail Run is a point-to-point 25k race held in August for Cystic Fibrosis. It starts from the Primrose campground and uses a U.S. Forest Service Trail through Lost Lake in Chugach National Forest. This is now a lottery race due to selling out in 5 minutes in 2016.
The Resurrection Pass 100 and 50 mile is a low-key self-supported race that starts about an hour inland from Seward. The race uses trails like Devil’s Pass and the Resurrection Pass trail.
Trail Running Groups
Resurrect Art was a church that has been converted to a coffee house and gallery. An excellent place to start your day.
Seward Brewery is the obvious place to end your day. Many items from the remodel have been repurposed. Original beams from the 2nd floor have been recreated into bar tables. The old exterior siding can be found on the front of the bar as well as the west wall. The original maple flooring was refurbished and can be found on the main floor as well as in the Brewery Loft.
For those looking to mix in with some of the locals at a watering hole, try the Yukon Bar. The Yukon offers hearty bar food with live music, DJ parties, and more.
If you can’t get enough and want to see a ton more photos from our Kenai peninsula trip: