The trails in Valdez are heavenly

Come up to Alaska and discover why Valdez is considered a sublime snowmobiling destination

by Danielle Cameron

people out snowmobiling
Sledders stopped for a photo, looking north across the bay towards Valdez. Scott Benda photo

Situated near the Chugach Mountain Range, the city of Valdez has one of Alaska’s most enthusiastic snowmobiling communities. The landscape around the city boasts glaciers, gigantic alpine bowls and dramatic hills—not to mention an annual average snowfall of 827 centimetres per year. One day of riding out there and you’ll understand why visitors keep coming back.

Hogsback Mountain

Hogsback Mountain is easy to access from a staging area just outside of town. The parks and recreation department of the City of Valdez maintains a groomed, multi-use trail that goes part of the way up, and an unmaintained single-track trail will take you the rest of the way. At the top there are numerous play areas and panoramic views. Make sure to get a photo of the Hogsback Glacier.

Thompson Pass

Thompson Pass gets an astounding 1,524 to 2,286 centimetres of snow each year, so it attracts winter sports enthusiasts by the droves. It is also the site of the annual Mountain Man Snowmachine Hill Climb and the World Freeride Festival (known as Tailgate Alaska).

Solomon Gulch (also known as Area 51)

Solomon Gulch has several natural features to add a challenge to your ride. You can access this zone by crossing the Bay of Valdez, via Dayville Road. Keep in mind that the climb in and out of Solomon Gulch can be a challenge, depending on the weather conditions that day.

Club activities and events

The Valdez Snowmachine Club is an active member of the Alaska State Snowmobile Association and its volunteers work with the City of Valdez staff to look after the local terrain.

There are several events hosted by the club in Valdez throughout the year. The Mountain Man Snowmachine Hill Climb invites snowmobilers to take their sleds up a 518-metre slope, vying for the title of King of the Hill. It’s not uncommon to see upwards of 500 spectators at this event.

The Valdez Mayor’s Cup Race is a 322-kilometre cross-country race that takes place mostly in town with an uphill section in the Hogsback riding area. It is held annually in March.

Finally, there’s the Wounded Warrior Poker Run, which happens two weeks after the Mayor’s Cup Race. This 21-kilometre poker run honours veterans by bringing them on a guided tour of the pristine Valdez trails. Families love to come out and celebrate this worthy cause.

Related Articles

Valdez, Alaska snowmobiling
Interior Alaska Trip planner: What you need to know before snowmobiling in Valdez, AK

Trial maps, top snowmobile trails, club contacts and other useful information you can use before planning a snowmobile trip to Valdez, AK

Justin Cahill slashes through the powder on Keystone Mountain near Revelstoke, BC.
Meet the Rider, Valdez, AK Revelstoke and Valdez in five amazing photos

Sledtographer Nick Khattar shares his story and a few amazing snowmobiling photos he captured in the winter of 2015-2016.

by Nick Khattar
Ashley Chaffin with a big smile and a red hat
Valdez, AK Valdez, Alaska, rad rider Ashley Chaffin spends 140 days a year on her sled

If there’s one thing Ashley Chaffin a.k.a. “Smashley” will never be guilty of, it’s turning her back on a challenge.

by Jessica Kirby
View all Valdez articles