Right now, raspberries are ripe, sweet and plentiful, especially in the last third of the hike. Bears, both brown and black, are known to frequent the area and signs of their scat are abundant. You’ll hear other hikers and bikers hollering “Hey, bear!” as a means of announcing themselves. It’s smart to do the same, especially in overgrown sections of the trail where visibility is limited.
At the end of the trail you'll find smaller paths that allow you to explore the Gull Rock headland.
A day in Hope is also a window into Alaska history: The small community on the south side of Turnagain Arm was one of the state’s first gold rush towns. Back in 1889 – before Dawson or Nome had their gold strikes – a prospector struck gold at nearby Resurrection Creek. Soon a tent and cabin encampment dubbed “Sunrise City” was born, and briefly swelled to more than 3,000 people. The gold was plentiful - one prospector named Robert Mathison reportedly found 385 ounces in just two months. But it was a quick boom, and soon the population was down to just 23.
Today, around 200 people live in this small and friendly community, which includes historic buildings like the Hope Social Hall, established in 1902.
The hike itself is also part of that the town’s history – the Gull Rock route was once a wagon trail that led to a Johnson Creek sawmill, at mile 4.8 of the hike. You can see some remnants of development there today.
If you go:
Driving directions: Drive south of Anchorage on the Seward Highway. Turn right onto the Hope Highway. Drive about 17.5 miles on the Hope Highway, which will lead you into the Porcupine Creek Campground. Drive through the campground to the far west end of the campsites to find bathrooms and the Gull Rock trailhead.
Distance: The trail is 5.1 miles one way – suitable for a day hike. You can also camp at one of a few basic sites at the end of the trail. It can be very windy at the point.
Seasons: The trail is generally open from May to mid-October.
Difficulty and elevation gain: This trail is easy to moderate for hikers. It’s considered moderate to difficult for mountain bikers, with steep sections and many protruding tree roots.
For more information: For more information, check out the Chugach National Forest’s website at fs.usda.gov/chugach/
Note: The Porcupine Campground is closed for reconstruction as of Sept. 7, 2010.