Skating in Nancy Lake State Park

Well, December has been ice skating season for us! We’ve had a string of below freezing, snowless, winter days to thank for this.  While it’s not the winter weather we had wished for, there is still fun to be had.

A week ago, we went for a dry run skating/super cub trip with Atlee at our friend’s cabin near Big Lake. It went so well that we decided to jump right in and go to Nancy Lake State Park to try out the Lynx Lake Loop Trail (that’s a tongue twister), popular for canoeing in the summer and ice skating, fat biking, or any other means of traveling on ice, in the winter. This is a great map for planning your Nancy Lake adventure.

Getting to the Tanaina Lake Trailhead from Anchorage takes about an hour and 45 minutes if you drive the speed limit, or it’s a short 2o min. flight by Super Cub. We opted for a short flight and headed to Lake Hood. fullsizeoutput_4540

Atlee is no longer a sleeping passenger; in fact, if there’s one thing that she hasn’t done on a plane ride lately, it’s sleep. She likes to look out the window, but her attention span is short and, recently, there has been a fair amount of crying on flights. I think we will be sticking to shorter trips for a bit. It’s ok; it’s just a phase.



A few friends of ours met us at the trailhead with their 16-month-old son, and we headed out on the 8-mile loop with plenty of sunshine and smooth ice.


Woodsen took Atlee in our Osprey backpack, and our friends pushed their son in a Chariot. If you’re wondering which to use, there isn’t a perfect solution. The chariot was great on the ice but a pain to push over the thin boardwalk and up the steep icy sections of trail. The backpack was a bit more cumbersome to skate with, but Woodsen was happy with easy transitions between the ice and trials. Of course, the dads in the group made both of them look easy.

A chariot definitely has a fun perk.



Nordic skates make the portages easy – no unlacing and changing shoes between each of the fourteen lakes.  All you have to do is clip in and out of your skates.

The trails are well marked, and if you have the map handy, you can make a pretty good guess as to where you will find the next trailhead. A couple of times we had to skate around for a bit to find the trail, but even that was enjoyable.



At every lake the ice was slightly different. On this lake, the crust formed an interesting pattern but wasn’t thick enough to interfere with skating. Perfect!


Lunch break!


And of course, an opportunity for a group shot.

Photographer down. I’m fine on skates, but walking on ice when trying to get back for a timed photo… not my strength. 🙂


Let’s try that again. There we go!


Near the end of the loop, we came to this little slough that winded through the marsh and was a lot of fun to skate.




A beautiful evening to end a great afternoon of skating.


Unlike flying, Atlee loves anything to do with being outside; she was happy or sleeping throughout the entire day.



The loop ended up taking us a very leisurely 3 hours and made for a low key adventure for our family and was a lot of fun to do with friends.