Whether you have just a short amount of time, or an entire day or more, there’s one trail in Valdez that can be as long or as short as you want. The Shoup Bay Trail provides beautiful views of Port Valdez and the surrounding mountains. And, it’s a fairly easy hike, conveniently located at the edge of town.
The trailhead for Shoup Bay Trail is located on the western side of Valdez. From downtown, follow Egan Avenue as far as you can go. You’ll cross Mineral Creek and enter a small subdivision. There is a parking area at the trailhead, at the end of Egan Avenue, on the left.
I had already hiked Mineral Creek Trail and the John Hunter Memorial Trail on this day, along with some other exploring. But thanks to the endless supply of daylight in Alaska in late spring, it was far too early to call it a night. So, I decided to squeeze in one more hike, on the Shoup Bay Trail.
The official city guide to the Shoup Bay Trail divides it into two parts — part A stretches a little over 3 miles, from the trailhead to Gold Creek Bridge, and part B is another 6.2 miles, ending at Shoup Bay.
I knew I wasn’t going to come close to hiking all of that. But I decided to start walking and see whatever I could see.
The first stretch of Shoup Bay Trail is not very scenic. The trail passes between walls of vegetation. On the day of my visit, it looked as though someone had just “mowed” the trail, leaving tall grass behind. While the trail wasn’t scenic, it was easy to hike — although there were some marshy spots.
In addition to the wall of plants, you might spot an interesting tree or two.
It took me a little less than 20 minutes to get to the interesting part of the trail. The “green tunnel” ends at the grassy mud flats along the edge of Port Valdez bay. At first, you can’t get close to the water — instead, the trail loops around the inside of this grassy field. There are some swampy places where boards have been placed on the ground, but they don’t always do the trick — your feet might get wet if you don’t move quickly and step strategically.
And as you can see, there are a few creek crossings, where foot bridges have been put into place.
This part of the trail seems to be especially popular with fat-tire bikes. If I had one, the boring parts of the hike would have gone by much quicker!
In this area, you’ll enjoy some great views looking south, towards the mountains on the opposite side of the bay. Remember, in late spring and early summer, the sun sets in the north — which means early and late in the day, the most beautiful views will be to the south.
A short side-trail breaks off the main path, and provides access to the “beach”. As beaches go, this one isn’t very pretty. I’m guessing this was low tide — so it might have looked better a few hours later. But even though there is some gravel and muck between you and the water, it’s still makes for a nice destination and a short hike.
[tmt_info =””]I only hiked about half of “part A” of the Shoup Bay Trail. I’ve read that from here, the trail ascends to a nice viewpoint of the bay and of Valdez, then drops down to Gold Creek Bridge. If I had known that there was a good viewpoint, just a short distance further, I might have made the climb. But as I mentioned, this was my third hike of the day, and I was tired. Maybe next time![/tmt_info]
If you happen to visit Valdez on a rare blue-sky day, I’d suggest hiking as much of the Shoup Bay Trail as you can. The portion I experienced is beautiful, and I’m sure the stunning scenery gets even better as you skirt the edge of Port Valdez bay. Waterproof hiking boots might be helpful in the trail’s soggy spots.
Here’s a time-lapse look at the drive around Valdez, including a trip out Dayville Road, and around Old Valdez Townsite:
[su_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZ4D27_aoLY”]< video >[/su_youtube]