A pair of hikers stop looking down on High School Hill pointing out sections of the trail while discussing.

High School Hill


High School Hill is an intense hike behind the Valdez High School. It has amazing views and many tourist have had to call search and rescue hiking it.

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  • Location: 61 ° 8' 18.96" N, 146 ° 21' 22.32" W
  • Borough:
  • Nearest City: Valdez
  • Elevation: 950 ft / 290 m
  • Length: 0.25 mi
  • Part of: Valdez
  • Description

    Getting There
    To get to the main High School Hill trail head park in the east side of the Valdez High School parking lot.

    To get to the High School Hill - Water Tower Trail take Egan Ave, turn towards the hill on Hazelet Ave, then left on to Hagnita St, and right on to Mineral Creek Drive. Park on the shoulder where the pavement ends. Hike up to the water tower and there is a tunnel trail into the alders, on the town side of the water tower.

    High School Hill in Valdez is in one word. Steep. If you're attacking it from the face, the high school parking lot trail head it's typically a 40° + climb, with nothing that really qualifies as a switchback. For people looking for a milder ascent there is a trail that begins behind the water tower at the beginning of the Mineral Creek Rd (trail description further down). Our recommendation is don't hike High School Hill if it has been raining.

    High School Hill is good challenge for anyone. Most ascents to the lookout rock on the top of the ridge take 30-40 mins by our lead hiker. Some do it in less, and some turn back... It's roughly 1300ft of trail gaining 900ft elevation. The last couple hundred feet of the trail is a rope assisted scramble. Bring gloves if you want to keep your hands clean. Majority of dogs can not make this portion of the hike.

    Most people stop their climb at the ridge/lookout rock. However for those looking to summit. High School Hill trail does continue through the alders, up into the alpine, and a steady ascent up along the ridge to the top. The trail no matter where you stop is by far an amazing view and the best views of Valdez you can get from any trail or spot on the ground.

    The back side (side facing Mineral Creek) is cliffs and very steep terrain beware not to venture too far over the ridge.

    High School Hill - Water Tower Trail

    The water tower trail is best for anyone attempting the hike with younger experienced children or anyone hiking with a dog. While it is an option most of the trail is walking through 4ft tall salmonberries. Many tourist get lost taking this route and generally a couple times a year search and rescue is called in to get them down.

    This portion is more mild but still includes rope assisted sections and exposure to areas that could lead to serious injury.

    High School Hill is aptly named as it begins in the high school parking lot and continues up the hill side behind the high school. Not much in known as to when the trail was officially set or named.

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