Chugach State Park

chugach_viewFriday afternoon, late April. End of a busy workweek — so busy that I’ve kept myself sequestered indoors, despite six straight days of glorious sunshine and springtime warmth. Today, finally, I leave my hurried, too-much-to-do city life and head for the hills. After too long away, I return to Anchorage’s backyard wilderness, Chugach State Park. Back to visit an old friend: 3,550-foot Flattop Mountain.

Huffing and puffing, sweating heavily in 50-degree air, I slog my way up Flattop’s still snowy trail. Following bootprints of other hikers through mud and slush, I experience a strong sense of dij` vu. The feeling, however, seems less eerie than inevitable: I have indeed passed this way many times before. Enough times that my feet have almost memorized the trail’s twists and turns.

Buck's Pocket State Park

Buck’s Pocket State Park

Buck's Pocket State ParkBuck’s Pocket State Park is a pretty area hurt by the lack of a really good trail. The park is a narrow gorge cut into Sand Mountain by South Saunty creek. It features dense woods and high bluffs with nice views. Getting to those views is the problem: there are relatively few trails here, and most of the choices are steep and rocky. All the same, the area is definitely worth a look. It’s been called the best kept secret in Alabama State Parks.