Living in Alaska means you will be exposed to hiking. One of the best hiking experiences in the Anchorage area is hiking up Flat Top. Don’t be deceived though, there is nothing flat about Flat Top. It is considered by locals to be an easy hike albeit uphill all the way. You are rewarded after summiting with a spectacular view.
The trail head is not far from the mid town area. From the trail head it takes experienced hikers on average about an hour to ascend. However, since I’m not a seasoned hiker it took me about one and a half hours to summit. If you are not in shape and don’t have your climbing legs, don’t worry. This hike can still be accomplished. I suggest taking it slow and easy and stopping along the way to rest. While you rest take scenic pictures. You can see many mountains and volcanoes in the distance. I allowed more time for the descent than I did for the ascent for one reason, I knew I was going to be tired. Many people bring lunches and picnic at the summit. This is a good idea to replenish your energy for the descent.
There are two peaks after Flat Top that can be climbed but usually only the more experienced hikers attempt those. The first half of the ascent is fairly easy. However, the last half is more than hiking and less than mountain climbing. A good pair of hiking boots is a must. There are no safety or guard rails and deep ravines on one side. Use caution. I was climbing Flat Top in the Spring and there was still plenty of snow. You don’t want to slip on the snow and end up tumbling down the ravine. It wouldn’t bode well for your skeleton.
Many people climb Flat Rock on the Summer Solstice and camp for the night. Anchorage is far enough north that there is no real night. There is an official sunset but the sun doesn’t dip low enough beneath the horizon to create darkness. This allows for the sky to be illuminated all night. It is reported that there is a genuine festive feeling on Flat Top for the campers on the Solstice.
I was amused at the amount of hikers that had their skis and snowboards strapped to their back. However, be cautious since the skiers and snowboarders will be coming down. As I was hiking up, several times a skier or snowboarder zoomed past me. There isn’t much room on the trail for the skiers and snowboarder to weave back and forth and slow their descent. They are moving very fast. They appear out of nowhere and disappear quickly. A collision with one of these sportsmen could be very dangerous and painful. Since there are no guard or safety rails, you could easily experience disaster should you collide with one of them.
Hikers are a genuinely friendly lot of people. Many will greet you and happily offer reports of the condition up ahead of you, advising where caution should be exercised. Since I was climbing Flat Top in the Spring there was still lots of snow left. Many were telling of the slippery spots they had encountered. This is much appreciated information.
The preparation for climbing Flat Top is not extensive. The reward at the top is magnificent. This is a great way to get out of doors, get some exercise and appreciate the magical beauty of Alaska.