Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood, 45 minutes south of Anchorage, offers 12 miles of trails for hikers of all skill levels.

The trail winds through America's northernmost rainforest, crosses a wooden bridge over a thundering blue-water gorge, connects to a hand tram high above thrashing Glacier Creek, then ends on Crow Creek Mine Road just below the mine.

The trail has two different sections.

The Lower Winner Creek Trail is an easy 3-mile hike on a wide, well-developed trail that begins just behind the Alyeska Tram building and ends at Crow Creek Road, just below Crow Creek Mine. This trail is the more popular trail.

Upper Winner Creek Trail leads 9 miles through high country into spectacular mountains. It's a stunning out-and-back hike or you can go over Berry Pass, hike down to the Twentymile River, and packraft out.

Winner Creek Gorge is the first picture perfect stop. The entire river is forced into a narrow constriction of solid rock only 15 feet wide. A solid wooden bridge towers above. Walking across it, you'll feel the water thundering beneath. It shoots through the gorge like a cannon, spewing frothy white water. Look just below the bridge, and you'll see the river go over a series of 5-10 foot drops.

Hiking just a fifth of a mile farther gets you to the hand tram -- a metal cage in which you slowly pull yourself across the thrashing Glacier Creek, more than 100 feet below.

This is a good hike for families and beginner hikers. From the hotel to the hand tram and back is a two to two-and-a-half hour round-trip adventure.

You can also bike the trail, as well.

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