An Anchorage icon, Flat Top remains probably the most hiked mountain in South-central Alaska. We use it here as a landmark to orient us to the surrounding peaks. It is a pleasant hike, about 1300 ft vertical over 1.5 miles, the trail is wide and dog-friendly. If starting from the Glen Alps trailhead the last 100 vertical feet is a bit of a scramble. There is a newer and relatively well-maintained trail on the South side from Bear Valley that is easier and in my opinion more fun but the side-hill parking is somewhat treacherous and completely full by 11am on a sunny day. Either side can fill up so I recommend start early and beat the crowds.
The best time of year to accomplish this hike is summer and fall. The weather rarely limits the hike. There is good drainage so even rain is unlikely to limit your fun. Peak summer heat can be a bit much but given how short the hike is, a liter of water should be plenty. Fall is a great time to punctuate the hike with some blueberry picking. Families with children can be seen dotting the hillside in August. Given the elevation (3510 ft) cross country skiers can be seen in late fall getting some early ski sessions in. Winter ascents require some evaluation of foot placement but the trail is well traveled and micro spikes are usually enough. At the summit, enjoy views of Denali and Mount Foraker, watch paragliders taking off, snap a selfie by the flag at the top.
Continuing on the ridgeline to the East is a popular addition. Peak 2, Peak 3, Flake Top and Ptarmigan in that order. Peak 2 and 3 offer the best hiking, ridges past that get a bit tedious. Better views are had elsewhere. If starting from the south side, Peak 2 is about the same length, slightly higher, less traveled and has more magnificent views. The start of the trail is the same and veers to the right at the saddle. Peak 3 is popular in winter and spring for after-work backcountry skiing.
Animal hazards include moose and bear. I’ve seen black bear here a couple of times but the crowds are enough to deter any worrying encounter. Moose are well known to hang out on the Glen Alps side but usually further up the valley. As always, bring your bear spray.
Difficulty: easy to moderate
Length: 1.5 miles
Location: 61° 05’ 26” N 149° 39’ 55” W
Trail running shoes
1 liter water
Snack - fig bars and a bagel