Potter Marsh and Potter Creek
Potter Marsh is a natural haven for migratory waterfowl. The marsh teems with life in the spring, summer and fall seasons. The Seward Highway actually runs through the marsh, just as one drives south out of Anchorage. The marsh provides a summer home and resting spot for Arctic Terns, Mallards, American Widgeons, Red Neck Grebes, Mew Gulls, Canada Geese, Sandhill Cranes, Greater Scaups, Northern Shovelers, Pintails and other birds. Moose can also often be seen in the marsh.
As you drop down an incline under Rabbit Creek Bridge leaving Anchorage move into the left “turn only” lane and look for the wildlife viewing sign. This will lead to a parking lot next to the marsh. A boardwalk leads from the parking lot out over the marsh. It is built high enough so that humans do not disturb the ecosystem, but close enough to the water so you will be able to see the stickleback and other small fish swimming below.
Claimjumper and I note that the best spots for birding are found in the middle and south ends of the marsh. There are pull outs all along the Seward Highway providing good viewing areas. An electric road sign sits at the south end of the Marsh. Turn left here to find another parking lot. There is no boardwalk here, but there are also fewer people. The birds are more likely to nest and feed near this lot.
A short, lovely hiking trail (.4 miles) just beyond Potter Marsh provides information about the common local flora and fauna. Chugach State Park – Potter Creek is a self guided tour featuring exhibits describing characteristics of several common Southcentral plants and animals. If you are heading south out of Anchorage, the parking lot is located on the left hand side of the Seward Highway just after the State Park Headquarters. The trail is moderately difficult. It has a fair grade to it and may be difficult for people not used to walking up hills. There are toilets at the parking lot.
While there are no birds in the winter, this area can be a terrific place to visit after the marsh becomes frozen. After a couple of good freezes but before the snow covers the lake, one can take a long tour of the marsh on ice skates. After the snow falls, it is a beautiful area to cross country ski.
If you are a geocacher, we there is a nice hide near the south side of the marsh Magic Cache. We left our vehicle at the parking lot at the south end of the park (N61 03.316 W149 47.912). Be very careful on the road behind the marsh as there are no shoulders.
For more information and cool maps on the trails along Turnagain Arm, check out the State's info at www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/units/chugach/turnagan.htm
Last Visited: April 2008