Here’s a hike that is probably not on anyone’s Alaskan itinerary. If you find yourself in the small town of Chitina and in the mood for a moderate day hike and/or waterfall, then you’re in luck. Spectacular mountain views are abundant in the Chitina area, and pretty much everywhere else in the state for that matter, but Liberty Falls is a good way to explore the area on a well-marked trail while also getting a waterfall thrown in as an added bonus. Don’t get us wrong, there are hundreds of better hikes in Wrangell-St. Elias so we’re not recommending bumping anything off your itinerary to make way for Liberty Falls; this is just a nice way to spend a morning or afternoon if you have some time to kill in Chitina.
Liberty Falls Trail
The parking lot and trail head for the Liberty Falls Trail is about five miles northwest of the Chitina Airport. To clarify, this trail does not actually lead to the falls themselves; rather, it ascends a ridge overlooking the Copper River and the Wrangell Mountains. The waterfall can be accessed from a separate parking lot down the street. The beginning of the trail is relatively steep, but after emerging from the trees, it flattens out and there are good views for the remainder of the hike. The official trail is 1.7 miles one-way, but there is the option of hiking an additional 0.25 miles to a small lake that comes into view at the end of the trail. The scenery along the way is beautiful and chances are there won’t be many other hikers on the trail, because…well…it’s Chitina, Alaska.
Like we mentioned, the actual waterfall is located just down route 10 from the trail head where there is another small parking lot. You don’t have to hike to the falls so this an easy spot to park the car and just hang out. There is a picnic area as well as an official campground. We even found some gold in the river (see below).