Tony Knowles Coastal Trail Scenic Bike Tour

Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail was at the top of my list of things to do while in Anchorage. Sure, it’s 11 miles each way. And, yes, I hadn’t biked much this year which left my legs somewhere less than in shape for a 22 mile ride. But, when the guy at Pablo’s Bike Shop told me that I’m mostly likely to see moose and bear at mile 11, there was no question that I was all in.

At mile 11, I looked around waiting for the majestic creatures to make an appearance. After waiting for some time and enjoying the view, feeling somewhat disappointed, I decided to circle the parking lot one last time before making my way back to Anchorage.

As I turned my head, I saw movement off to my right. My breath caught in my throat as I got my first glimpse of a moose walking just 20 feet away from me along the trail. I had two thoughts. First, moose are incredible to see up close. Second, holy shit this thing could kill me.

Ok, three thoughts, where the hell was my camera? That would have to wait.

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A moose walking along the path in Kincaid Park at mile 11 of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Anchorage.
Moose encounter in Kincaid Park at mile 11 of the Anchorage Coastal Trail

This is what captivated me about Alaska. You are immersed in wildlife. There’s literally no escaping it, even in the city of Anchorage.

Here’s everything you need to know to rent a bike in downtown Anchorage and cycle the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Where is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail?

The Coastal Trail starts right in downtown Anchorage and ends in Kincaid Park. There is public parking at either end of the trail. The trail itself wraps around the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport property, offering views of the Cook Inlet in the Gulf of Alaska, the Chugach Mountain and, of course, Mount McKinley.

Aside from moose and bears, it’s common to spot beluga whales, coyotes and other wildlife along the trail. 

Overview of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail from downtown Anchorage to Kincaid Park.

Overview of the Tony Knowles Coastal trail

The entire eleven mile trail is paved, making it ideal for year round activities such as running, biking and skiing. The trail is relatively flat, though there are three hills on the southern end of the trail. With signposts every half mile, it’s nearly impossible to get lost!

  • Distance: 11 miles, each way
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Style: Out and back
  • Grade: Relatively flat
  • Navigation: Easy
  • Time: 2-4 hours

Click the map below for an overview of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in Google Maps!

Bike Rentals in Anchorage

Fortunately, there are several places to rent bikes in downtown Anchorage. Here’s a rundown of each to help you decide which is best for you.

Bike rental shop hours and availability vary quite a bit throughout the year so be sure to check all of these website for the latest info. 

All bike shops should offer helmets and a bike lock as a free option, but be sure to ask. 

Pro Tip: If you plan to visit Anchorage during peak season, in summer, be sure to reserve your bike in advance.

The early morning sun hits the bright yellow grass and dark gray mud flats during low tide along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, the perfect place to bike Anchorage Alaska.
Early morning sun on the mud flats during low tide along the Anchorage Coastal Trail

Pablo’s Bike Shop

Located just 2 blocks from the Coastal Trail, Pablo’s Bike Shop is an incredibly convenient bike rental option. They offer a large selection of bike styles including cruisers, mountain bikes, road bikes, tandem, kid’s bikes and more. 

Of the options close to the Coastal Trail, Pablo’s is the most likely to have a bike available for walk-ins (i.e. without reservations), especially if you visit first thing in the morning. 

Pro Tip: Pablo’s has bear spray that you can borrow for free with your bike rental. If you didn’t bring any with you, this is a great option, especially since bears are frequently seen along the trail. 

View over the bicycle handlebars in Point Woronzof along the Anchorage Coastal Trail. The fall colors have pops of green, orange and yellow!
Biking through Point Woronzof Park on the Anchorage Coastal Trail

Trek Bike Rentals

Trek Bike Rentals is located very close to Pablo’s Bike Shop, making it also quite convenient if you plan to bike the Coastal Trail. One downside is that they appear to only rent fat tire bikes. 

They offer bike fittings with an expert who specializes in triathalons. This is a great option for serious bikers!

Downtown Bicycle Rental

Downtown Bicycle Rental may be slightly less convenient for accessing the Coastal Trail, they’re still only about a half mile away. What I like about Downtown Bicycle Rental is that they also manage the Flattop Shuttle to one of the most popular hikes in the Anchorage area. So, you could make a day of it by hiking Flattop in the morning and then biking the Coastal Trail in the afternoon or vice versa. 

They offer an assortment of bike rentals, including mountain, road, kid’s and tandem bikes.

Things to See While Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

As I mentioned, the trail has easily identifiable markers every half mile and there are very few turnoffs, making it difficult to get lost. These are the things to see along the Coastal Trail.

Mountain Views

The Coastal Trail has mountain views for days. Take time to enjoy the Chugach Mountains (far right when facing the water), Talkeetna Mountains (straight ahead when facing the water), and Mount McKinley (to the left when facing the water) as you bike along the coast.

Enjoy the mountain views while biking along the Anchorage Coastal Trail. Here you can see Mount McKinley and other snowcapped mountains across the Cook Inlet from the bike path.
Enjoy the view of Mount McKinley across the Cook Inlet from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Wildlife

At high tide, it’s not uncommon to see Beluga whales in the water along the Coastal Trail. Moose are commonly spotted around miles 7 and 8 as well as mile 11 at Kincaid Park. Bears are often spotted in the final ascent to Kincaid Park around miles 10 and 11. 

Mud Flats

The coast will look like a dramatic gray-black landscape from another planet, but in actuality it’s a mud flat. These are what remains after centuries of glaciers scraping away at the surrounding mountains and carrying the silt through the rivers and streams to be deposited along the shoreline. 

It’s tempting to walk out onto the mud flat, but I strongly recommend against it. It’s essentially like quick sand!

Early morning sun peeks through the trees along Westchester Lagoon, near the start of the Anchorage Coastal Trail.
Sun peeking through the trees along Westchester Lagoon near the start of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail

Kincaid Beach

This is only large sandy beach you’ll find in Anchorage, and it’s a fairly well-kept secret from visitors. As you’re biking the Coastal Trail, just before the final half mile ascent (around mile marker 10) there is a dirt path that will take you to this hidden gem. The trail is deceiving at first, with overgrown and dense trees and bushes but after a short walk it opens up to reveal the sand dunes and beach. 

Bring a book and a snack to cozy up with or just enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding mountains!

Kincaid Park

You’ll know you’ve reached Kincaid Park when you see a chalet to your left and a soccer (football) field to your right. The chalet, also called Kincaid Outdoor Center, is open year around from 12:30pm to 8:30pm except for major holidays.

Pro Tip: If you arrive before the chalet opens at 12:30, there is a port-a-potty you can use out front. 

While you’re at Kincaid Park, walk around the back side of the building or up the outdoor steps to the roof for a view of the Anchorage skyline. If you’re lucky like I was you may get to see paragliders taking flight!

A moose grazes among the trees along the edge of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail bike path in Anchorage, blocking a biker from passing.
Moose blocking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail bike path around mile 7 or 8.

Earthquake Park Exhibits

Did you know that a 9.2 magnitude earthquake devastated much of Anchorage and the surrounding area on Good Friday in 1964? I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know about this disaster. Earthquake Park, along the Coastal Trail, has several exhibits about the earthquake, the impact, and the rebuilding process. For context, entire cities were permanently raised and lowered by several feet as a result of this earthquake!!

To date, this earthquake is the most powerful on record in North America.

Point Woronzof Park

This is a great place to enjoy skyline views of Anchorage, watch airplanes take off from Ted Stevens International Airport, and even spot whales. I loved this portion of the trail for its forested sections with bright fall colors. If you’re into birdwatching, take your time through this section and look up!

How to Bike Anchorage Safely

I would rate this trail as easy, but there are a few safety precautions you should take.

Places to Eat Near the Anchorage Coastal Trail

Inevitably, after biking the entire Coastal Trail, you’re going to be hungry. Not to wory, there are some delicious options right near the end of the trail. 

International House of Hotdogs

This place is literally heaven in a hot dog bun. This little food truck has adorable outdoor seating and possibly the best hot dog I’ve ever had. I opted for the Phoenix with smoky chili fries (10/10 would recommend) with a can of LaCroix for $14.

For more info, check out International House of Hotdogs Facebook page.

The Phoenix hot dog is wrapped in bacon and topped with corn, poblanos, and crema with a side of smokey chili fries from International House of Hotdogs in Anchorage.
Phoenix hot dog with smoky chili fries at International House of Hotdogs

El Green-go’s 

Do you love tacos? Is that even a question? Well El Green-go’s isn’t just any taco or burrito place. They offer locally sourced, incredibly delicious Mexican inspired dishes for vegans and meat-eaters. They even have a vegan queso that actually tastes good! Find El Green-go’s across the street from Pablo’s and the International House of Hotdogs!

For more info, check out El Green-go’s website.

Snow City Cafe 

If you’re looking for coffee or great breakfast food, check out Snow City Cafe. They’ve been voted “best breakfast” in Anchorage since 2003! Don’t worry, though, they’ve also got soups, sandwiches and other lunch options too!

For more info, check out Snow City Cafe’s website.

Are You Ready to Bike Anchorage?

Whether you bike the entire trail or just a portion of it, this is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and see some iconic Alaska wildlife without venturing far from downtown Anchorage.

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Biking the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is a must for any visit to Anchorage Alaska. Find out where to rent a bike in Anchorage and what to expect when biking the Anchorage Coastal Trail, including where to see bear, moose, whales and more! things to do in Anchorage Alaska | #usatravel #anchorage #alaska #biking #bicycling #cycling

6 Comments

  1. I’ve never been to Alaska, and now I’m thinking I need to go! It looks so beautiful, and what a great way to see it on a bike!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Oh my gosh, I hope you get to go someday. Everywhere I looked was straight from a postcard 🙂

  2. Mooooooose!! I am so excited for you that you got to meet one of the locals! We have attempted to meet moose so many times, but always failed so far! I need to come cycling with you to get your moose luck!

    By the way, what is the white stuff on that hot dog? Is it some kind of flaky cheese?

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Ha ha – yes! I can’t believe how lucky I was to see not one, but TWO moose, on this bike ride. I was bummed out when I didn’t get to see them swimming at Glacier NP last year but this made up for it 🙂

      The white stuff on the hot dog is cotija cheese I believe! I don’t normally eat dairy but this was worth the making an exception!!

  3. Yaaaay I’m so happy you did this, and saw a moose!!! I never biked it when I was there, just walked, but I loved the mud flats and beaches. It was fun to climb all over the rocks (although my friend lost his wallet somewhere in there lol). I didn’t see any wildlife on this trail, but I was constantly nervous about it. I did see moose at my hostel though!

    That’s awesome that Pablo’s loans out bear spray for free. That stuff is expensive. I remember a lot of places in Alaska renting it to people, like at hostels, but never saw it for free. Although this is bringing back one memory I feel bad about; another guest had purchased some and couldn’t bring it back with them on the plane, so they gave it to me for my hike in Seward. I put it in one of my water thermos pockets on my backpack, and when I checked a few hours into my hike, it was gone 🙁 So irresponsible to lose something like that!

    I didn’t eat at any of these places when I was there but they sound delicious, what’s wrong with me?

    Your pictures are really making me want to go back and visit Alaska again sooner rather than later, I would love to see all the places I never did, like Talkeetna, Denali, Juneau, McCarthy, etc.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Yes! Can’t believe I saw TWO moose on my one bike ride. I was so lucky but man those animals are intimidating. They’re so big!! I can see very easily how you could lose your wallet in those rocks.

      As far as the bear spray, I think that since you can’t take bear spray in your carry on luggage, people just leave it there and then they let you use it. So, I don’t think they purchase it for you to use, but they had probably 10 cans of it that had been left there.

      I will definitely be going back to Alaska! Due to the time of year and the length of my stay, I didn’t make it to Denali either. There’s always next time, right? 🙂

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