Fantastic Family Friendly Hike

Bodenburg Butte, is a well-known landmark in the Mat-Su Valley near Palmer in Alaska, is a popular hiking destination for families. It has a length of just 1.5 miles and a summit of only 874 feet, and the Butte is perfect for a family outing. Rising out of the surrounding Matanuska Valley like a giant pile of sand, The Butte is a beauty to look at and provides stunning views from the top as well.

A Butte to wander up

The Butte is what is known as a glacial erratic, which means that it is formed of glacially-deposited rock differing from the size and type of rock native to the area around it. The term glacial erratic comes from the Latin word ‘Errare’, which means to wander, and a good wander is just what The Butte invites.

What to expect

The approaching walk allows you to gently warm-up before beginning your ascent. It has more trailheads, one is the more moderate and well-defined path on the north side, where the climb is steep, but regularly assisted by a pulse-quickening 0.25 miles of steps. Many different trails wind their way up to the top. Some choose the more difficult ones or use the climb as a training ground for jogging up and down. Others trek up with the whole family, small children running around with delight as the adults take a more sedate pace taking their time to enjoy a chat and the view as they wander up – and perhaps using the view as an excuse to catch their breath! Because, whilst you don’t have to be an expert hiker to wander up the Butte, you’ll want to be prepared for an aerobic workout, as the steep stairs defiantly get your blood flowing.

Spectacular views

But it’s worth the effort for more than a physical workout. You are rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views of the Matanuska Valley farmlands, Talkeetna and Chugach Mountains, Knik Glacier, and Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge as well as the Knik River Valley and the richly coloured farmlands below.

It’s is a great way to get outdoors, be active, catch up with family and friends and see amazing views. Depending on your pace, it is good to plan on 1-2 hours to reach the top and get back down. Do ensure you give yourself enough time at the top. The chances are you will want to stay for a while to soak in the vista laid out before you. Don’t forget, therefore, to pack your camera as the view is worth taking home with you.

A community gift

The local community wanted to ensure that the much-loved Butte remained accessible for all people forever. In summer of 2015, a local nonprofit Great Land Trust raised over $200,000 to buy the Butte’s privately owned 40-acre summit. The bucks for the purchase came from donations from over 350 individual donors, private foundations and businesses. A community effort thus protected this natural recreational spot of beauty.

Practical information

Parking: The Butte is located off Bodenburg Butte Road, on the Old Glenn Highway just outside of Palmer. With a fee, you are allowed to park at a Mat-Su Borough lot off Mothershead Lane.

Carries with you: Make sure to bring a picnic lunch for the top, as well as plenty of water.

Please note: The area surrounding the Butte is private, so please respect the property owners.