Always check the weather ahead of time and carry protection against animals. (I recommend bear bells and bear spray.)
Good to know
Summer weekends can be quite crowded and parking may be limited at both Reflections Lake and the Eagle River Nature Center. Also, make sure to bring cash because parking is $5 at the Eagle River Nature Center.
The Eagle River Nature Center hours vary by season. From May until September, they are open Wednesday through Sunday. From October until April, they are open Friday through Sunday. Make sure to check the website in advance to be sure they will be open for your visit.
Recommended time of the year
Both locations can be visited year-round, but make sure to be prepared for winter weather during the colder months.
About This Day
Looking for fun day trips from Anchorage with kids? Here is an outdoor-inspired itinerary with the best places to take the kids to connect with nature and enjoy Alaska's beautiful scenery. Start the day with a visit to Reflections Lake and walk the 1-mile loop along the water. Next, drive over to the Eagle River Nature Center to learn about the animals living in the surrounding Chugach State Park. Kids will love the hands-on learning activities the center offers, and you may even catch a glimpse of some animals in the wild too! If you're up for a little more adventure, spend some time wandering along the trails behind the center. The Rodak Nature Loop is a great kid-friendly trail, and you're sure to catch some amazing sights from the viewing decks along the way. This family trip is perfect for kids of all ages, and will give you a taste of all the natural beauty Alaska has to offer!
Reflections Lake trail is a 1-mile loop, with an observation tower about halfway along the trail. The observation deck offers grand views of the surrounding Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge. This is a great trail for little ones and is stroller accessible when there isn’t snow or flooding. You may even have the chance to do some animal-watching during your hike. Moose, bald eagles and bears have all been seen along the trail!
DIRECTIONS From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway north about 30 miles. Take the Knik River Access exit, turn left and continue straight to Reflections Lake.
TIP Always be prepared for animals when hiking near Reflection Lake. Come with bear bells, bear spray and any other gear as needed.
The Eagle River Nature Center provides touchable casts of animal prints for guests to enjoy, in addition to other objects to explore. The goal of the center is to provide visitors with opportunities to connect with nature through interpretive education and outdoor opportunities. The center offers classes as well, so make sure to check out their website for the schedule. If the weather's nice, there is a picnic area and outlook point directly behind the Nature Center.
DIRECTIONS From Reflections Lake, head south on the Glenn Highway. Exit at South Eagle River and turn right at the first light. Follow Eagle River Road for 12 miles, until you reach the parking lot and log cabin visitor center at the end of the road.
TIP Make sure to bring cash for parking and check the website in advance for the center's schedule.
The Rodak Nature Loop is about ¾ mile and will lead you down to two viewing decks with amazing views. From the viewing decks, you can see Beaver Pond, and you may even catch salmon spawning if you visit during August or September. The trail is open year-round. However, at times during the fall some of the surrounding trails are closed due to bear activity and flooding.
DIRECTIONS The Rodak Nature Loop is located just behind the Eagle River Nature Center. Once you finish with your visit at the center, just walk behind the building to find the trailhead!