Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hiking the West Butte Trail near Palmer

If you are near the Palmer area, and you only have time for a short hike - this is the one! You can complete this hike in about 2 hours, it's child and pet friendly and the views from the top are amazing. You'll see the Knik Glacier, snow-capped mountains, the Mat-Su River and lots of green lush foliage on the way up - you'll wonder if you stumbled upon a rain forest. The top is flat and big enough to roam a bit and enjoy the spectacular views. The natural erosion of the rocks are perfect for the kids to explore and let their imaginations take hold. It's peaceful enough to hear the birds and other sounds of nature. This trail definitely offers a lot of bang for for your buck. ~Audrey & Patti
What: West Butte Hiking Trail
 Difficulty Level: Easy to moderate.
Where: Palmer, Alaska
What to Wear: Comfortable walking/hiking clothes and shoes. No special attire required.
What to Bring: Small day pack, water,and a camera.
Cost: $5 for parking. Money goes to maintain trails, so don't complain :) Maintained by MSB Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division 907-745-9690
Best time to go: May through September  
Children: Yes
Duration: 1.5 - 2 hours total
Pet Friendly: Yes, dogs on leashes
Directions: See driving directions at end of post.

There are two trailheads - we chose the scenic, more meandering West Butte Trail. The other trailhead is located on the south side near the Reindeer Farm
 (which is another cool place to visit)

Australia isn't the only place you'll find gum trees :)

The first part of the trail is wide and hard packed gravel - lots of Devil's Club and other types of verdant foliage line the path.

We were pleasantly surprised to see this little rest stop within the first 15 minutes of the hike. There were even benches! Couldn't resist a quick break to take in the views of the Talkeetna Mountains and the Matanuska River basin before starting the more challenging part of the trail. 

The trail is beautifully groomed, with steps and ropes to hold on to where it is particularly steep. The trail gets narrow in some areas, and even though it is a slightly challenging trail, by the time you get winded you'll be at the top!

Before you know it, you're at the top…beautiful vistas of the Palmer farmlands, the Knik Glacier and the Mighty MatSu River. Just for fun, see if you can locate this survey marker when 
you are up there :)

When we got to the top we relaxed and took in the views. This is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic, read a book or just relax. We even discovered you get cell reception, so why not Facebook a few selfies :)

A million dollar view for only $5 - we think that's money well spent!

Bodenburg Butte

Directions: From Palmer go southeast on the Old Glenn Highway. 5.5 miles from Palmer take a right on Bodenburg Loop. Drive 1/2 mile and take a left on Mothershead Circle. You'll see the trailhead parking on the right. After you park, continue walking up Motershead Circle Road until you see the West Butte Trail sign. You can't miss it.  

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