When I drove up Skyline Drive to hike Mount Baldy, I was impressed with the view from the trailhead parking lot. I made a mental note that this would be a good place to watch a sunset. And I was right!
The Mount Baldy Trail begins at the end of Skyline Drive, near Eagle River. From Anchorage, take the Glenn Highway to Eagle River Loop Road. Then, turn right on Skyline Drive. The name of the road changes as you go uphill — don’t worry about that, just continue to climb towards the radio broadcast tower. You’ll see the trailhead at the end of the road. Park at the side of the road.
First things first, the sun doesn’t always set in the west in Alaska. At this latitude, in late spring and early summer, the sun barely dips below the horizon in the northern sky. So, if you’re looking for a good sunset spot around that time of year, look to the north.
Of course, the view from the end of Skyline Drive is so wide, you should have a nice view of the sunset at any time of the year.
Looking out from the trailhead, the sun is setting directly over Knik Arm. If you look to the left of the setting sun, you’re looking towards the southwest, towards Elmendorf Air Force Base. You might even be able to see the edge of downtown Anchorage.
But here’s the coolest thing I noticed, as I watched the sunset from Mount Baldy Trailhead. The sunlight was brilliantly reflected in the tidal mudflats of Knik Arm, revealing some beautiful golden patterns. Could I see the same thing, or something even more spectacular, if I was closer to the water? I don’t know, but next time I’m in Alaska, I’ll try to find out.
One word of warning: the parking area at the end of Skyline Drive seemed safe during the day, but at sunset (around 11 p.m.), some sketchy characters were hanging out here. I don’t know if it was truly unsafe, or if there were just a lot of people going up there to park, smoke, and party harmlessly. Just be aware of your surroundings, and if it feels unsafe, get going.
The Mount Baldy Trailhead provides a nice place to view the sunset, and a great view of Eagle River and the northern end of Anchorage.
Here’s a time-lapse look at the drive on Eagle River Road at sunset, ending with the drive up to Mount Baldy Trailhead:
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