When we first arrived in Alaska, people warned us. They said that if you blink, fall is gone, and winter is in full swing and, judging by this past week’s weather, I can attest to the fact that we’re solidly into fall. So, we’re getting out and doing as much as possible before the first snow and before Ryan’s first TDY. A couple weeks ago, we spent an afternoon hiking and exploring Murphy Dome in Fairbanks. For those who love the outdoors here in Interior Alaska, Murphy Dome is a nearby staple, and I can already comfortably state that we’ll be going again. A lot.
All About Murphy Dome in Fairbanks
About 20 miles outside of Fairbanks proper, Murphy Dome soars above the surrounding hills and valleys. Once home to Murphy Dome Air Force Station, it’s now a recreational site frequented by hikers, berry-pickers, and ATV riders.
It’s still amazing to me that these vistas and areas lie just beyond the “city” center here. They’re practically in our backyard. So, we packed up the kids, the pup, and minimal gear for an easy hike in the hills beyond Fairbanks…and it delivered in spades.
Hiking Murphy Dome
Much like our last hike at Monument Creek Trail, hiking Murphy Dome was definitely on the easier side of things. It’s a quick day hike, though you can definitely extend the route if you want. We opted for a 3-mile out-and-back trek, and it traversed along ATV trails through dense blueberry bogs and overlooking the many mountainous areas nearby.
I confess; I don’t know all the surrounding mountains or ranges in the area yet, and if you ask me which we saw, I’d have to tell you a bold-faced lie because I honestly don’t know. I do, however, know that it was beautiful and such a treat to get away from Fairbanks’ center and out into the wild.
What to Expect When Exploring Murphy Dome
I don’t know what I expected from an Alaskan fall, but it definitely wasn’t the amount of wind and rain we get here! It was a brisk day hovering right about 55 degrees up at Murphy Dome. And, because we’ve had so much rain lately, the trails and paths were definitely muddy and wet. Kids love puddles though, so it was an absolute win in that respect.
The kids also absolutely loved the random rock formations just off the trails, and we found ourselves exploring several as we wandered in and out of the crevices. We were told Murphy Dome gets busy, but we saw maybe eight people the whole time, and most were busy picking the last of the blueberries. The moral? “Busy” in Alaska means something totally different than “busy” in Korea or even Washington, for that matter.
Tips for Hiking Murphy Dome
Trail Length: There are varying trails, but we headed directly to the left of the gravel lot by Murphy Dome and did an out-and-back trail that clocked in at 3 miles.
Level of Difficulty: This one is easy with just rolling hills and beautiful views.
Cost: Free; there is ample parking in the gravel parking lot.
Dogs: Yes! Dogs are allowed on-leash.
Tips: There are no facilities at the top. Be sure to practice leave no trace principles, and pick up after pets. In the late summer, bring a bucket for berries, and you’ll definitely want bug spray, too. It’s also recommended to bring a bear horn or bell.