Chances are that if you are a parent in Alaska, you want some easy hikes in your back pocket. If this is the case, Reflections Lake is definitely a place that you want to know about! Furthermore, it’s easy to get to and it’s free. And the views are killer. Win, win, win.
Reflections Lake Details
Reflections Lake is located in the Hay Flats between Eagle River and the MatSu Valley (Palmer and Wasilla area). It is directly off of the Glenn Highway just after the Knik River Bridge if you are driving from the Anchorage area into the valley. This hike is just over a mile long, and it’s a loop around the lake. It is a very doable adventure with your kids. And it is BEAUTIFUL. It is very aptly named Reflections Lake as the reflections along the water are absolutely gorgeous. Furthermore, Pioneer Peak looms up behind the lake as you approach the far side and the views are simply stunning.
Warmer Weather Activities
During the warmer weather, Reflections Lake is a wonderful place to bird watch. You can often see geese, ducks, and trumpeter swans on this lake. You will also likely spot fishermen along the shore looking for dinner on this stocked lake. Walk around the lake and enjoy looking for small woodland animals as well as moose. If you climb to the top of the observation tower and look across the Hay Flats you are more likely to spot a moose in the distance. Please be aware that this is Alaska still! Even though this is a popular trail with quite a bit of activity, the moose are sometimes on the trail. Be aware of your surroundings and give proper distance and respect to the wild animals of Alaska.
My favorite time to go to Reflections Lake is during the fall, when all the trees turn an absolutely beautiful golden color. The water reflects the fall foliage and to say that it is gorgeous is an understatement. But in the spring and summer, Reflections Lake is still absolutely worth the trek. In the summer it does get more busy, but I’ve never seen it “crowded.”
Cold Weather Activities
Even though it gets cold during the winter, make sure you head to Reflections Lake during this season too! When the ice is thick enough (please learn proper ice safety – there are many risks in this activity so ice safety is crucial!) some people walk across the lake. Please be aware that parts of Reflections Lake does have some hot springs under the water. Be aware of this if you choose to walk across the lake as large parts of the lake do not freeze. You will often see ice fishing activities at the center of the lake, and sled tracks running from one side to the other.
The trail is also an easy winter trail to help get all of your kids out into the beautiful winter wonderland of Alaska. Since it is mostly flat, even if it is a little icy, it’s not as big of a deal as there are very few hill sections to deal with.
A Perfect Afternoon Activity for Kids and Adults
Reflections Lake is absolutely a perfect afternoon activity for kids and adults. You will love being able to see all the wildlife while drinking in the beautiful views. If you are looking for a separate easy trail to do during the same day, check out Wasilla Creek Trail and Eklutna Tailrace. And it is an easy trail, so kids can run wild and free while you take a leisurely stroll with them under your watchful eye.