Thunderbird Falls Trail | Eagle River, Alaska


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Jumping ahead in our Alaska adventures (mostly because I wanted a simple set of photos to edit. I looked at Denali photos and the billions of bear photos and thought that was too much at the moment!) we’re going to hike on the Thunderbird Falls Trail just outside of Anchorage in Eagle River. We’d arrived in Anchorage that morning via the Alaska Rail into Anchorage, rented a car, checked into the hotel, and headed for a few hiking adventures on the outskirts of Anchorage in Chugach State Park.

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Since it was Labor Day, the trailhead was rather busy. In my assessments online it seemed like this was in a quieter setting but there were some houses abutting the forest at the beginning of the trail and due to its proximity to Anchorage, the trail was quite active. And you could tell the trail got a lot of use by the packed dirt along the way.

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Looking back now at this first week of September when it felt like autumn in Alaska and now comparing it to this first week of November when we’re dipping between autumn and early spring like temperatures here in Texas, it is a little jarring to see where we were a few months ago. I think this beautifully red shaded bush is squashberry, Viburnum edule, but I’m not completely certain.

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There was an initial rise from the trailhead along the trail and then a descent towards the falls. Leaves were coloring the path as we walked. Forest enjoyed running full-force down this hill after a morning of being confined to a train and car.

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Peering down into the Eklutna River gorge via the first overlook.

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Touch-me-not Balsam, Impatiens noli-tangere

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I’d love to be here right now.

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Our short walk lead us to an overlook of Thunderbird Falls, where we oohed and ahhed for a few moments.

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I’m semi-ok with the love lock phenomenon in places like Paris but I’m really annoyed when I see them in places like this. And even cities like Paris are removing them and trying to stop the practice. So, don’t leave a lock on a gate like this, folks!

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I wanted to drink in all of the green, green, green surrounded by deep yellows and oranges in the forest up here.

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From the main trail there’s a smaller, more eroded trail leading to the base of the falls and Thunderbird Creek (which merges with the Eklutna River back downstream a bit).

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Several people were cautiously rock hopping around the end of the ‘beach’ area to get a better look at the falls, or just braving the chilly water and wading in. Chris was one of those people, taking photos and opting to spend some time fishing.

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Forest and I stayed back; I took photos and Forest found ways to play on the beach and push boundaries about getting his shoes wet.

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It was great lighting for portrait photography. I wish I’d had my 50mm.

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Eventually Chris came back to show us a fish he caught (sorry, not sure what it is at the moment—will have to edit this when I ask Chris).

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And the warmth we’d felt as we’d hiked along the trail started fading as the sun went behind the clouds and the canyon cooled down. We wanted to sneak in another hike before we had to meet our friend Eliana for dinner and do some chores in town, so we said goodbye to Thunderbird Falls and hiked back to the trailhead.

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One thought on “Thunderbird Falls Trail | Eagle River, Alaska

  1. shoreacres says:

    These are some great photos of a fabulous place — and Forest’s reaction to it. I’ve got a story tucked in my files about love locks in a very unusual place. While they can be a real problem, where I found them still makes me smile. I need to stop with the camera already and spend a little time writing!

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