The Twin Bears Trail is a relatively easy day hike at mile 29.5 Chena Hot Springs Road. The hike gains over 1300 ft. in elevation gradually in about 2.75 miles on the west side (Compeau Trail) and descends in 2.15 miles on the eastern side (Twin Bears Camp).
The summit is below the tree line, so there’s no great view to be had. Although it is a pretty walk through spruce and birch boreal forest. In summer there are a lot of mosquitoes, especially near Twin Bears Camp.
If you are visiting Alaska, there are better trails to do. Angel Rocks or Granite Tors are much better hikes with fantastic views. If you’ve done many of the hikes in CRSRA, want to avoid the crowds at the other trails, or just need a quick walk or run not too far from town, then this is a good trail. This would definitely be a good trail run, except for maybe the short boardwalk near the lake.
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The trail can be hiked year-round. You will probably want snowshoes or skis in the winter. Snowmachines keep the Compeau Trail section packed fairly well in winter, but the Twin Bears Camp side is less traveled. There are winter and ski trails near the camp as well.
For a shorter hike, you can start at Twin Bears Camp and just hike that side out-and-back. Alternately, hiking the Compeau Trail to the summit and back is about 5.5 miles.
I prefer to start and end this hike at the Compeau trailhead at mile 29.6 Chena Hot Springs Road. The trail starts at the north end of the parking lot and is a wide ATV trail for the entire climb. After about 500 ft. (150 m) there’s a trail junction. Going left (Compeau Trail) is a slightly more gradual climb, right takes you past the Twin Bears Camp and a slightly narrower, steeper path. Here I describe hiking left to make a clockwise loop.
Staying left, you meander through some spruce forest on flat terrain before crossing a winter trail. Shortly after that, the path hits the hill and turns east beginning a few long switchbacks. The spruce trees give way to birch trees mid-hill. Through the dense birch forest, you get occasional glimpses of the hills to the south.
Near the top, the trail wraps around the north side of the hill through more spruce forest. After turning back south, a marked trail leads off to the right toward the “summit” at 1452 ft, and the north overlook just a bit beyond the high point.
Twin Bears Camp
Return to the main trail and stay straight to continue the loop. The path down to the camp is not as wide and a bit steeper, but not much. You will cross the winter ski trail at a sign (might not notice the trail in summer). There’s a bit of boardwalk as you near the Twin Bears Camp. As of this writing (2020), the boardwalk is walkable, but not in good shape. Watch for loose boards and expect possibly to have a foot punch through.
Shortly after stepping off the boardwalk, a spur trail leads to Twin Bears Camp and the lake to the east. The main trail passes by the west edge of the lake and turns east toward the Twin Bears Camp parking area. A very short connecting trail takes you to another ATV trail. Turn right on the ATV trail to head back to the Compeau Trail parking lot (<0.5 miles).
If you have recently hiked the Twin Bears Trail, feel free to leave trail conditions in the comments below! Thanks for reading!