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How to enjoy chilly Alaska weather -- before snow arrives (+Photos)

Mike Campbell
Grass is frozen into Potter Marsh on the morning of October 23, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Morning light illuminating the Chugach mountains along Turnagain Arm. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Sunrise, Turnagain Arm. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
High-bush cranberries, frozen on the bush at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frozen grass and fresh snow at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frost covers trees at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frosty foliage at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frozen mudflats at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frozen mudflats at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frozen mudflats at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
A frosty morning landscape at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Fresh snow on the mountains along Turnagain Arm. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Sunrise at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Frozen grass loses its layer of frost to the rising sun at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo
Sunrise at Bird Point. October 23, 2012
Loren Holmes photo

Take a drive down Turnagain Arm and marvel in the beauty of the landscape, changing into winter. But better yet, drive down to Bird Point and get out of the car. One word best describes the scene: frosty.

Take a walk, and in the moments between passing cars, enjoy the silence of a landscape settling into winter. The sound of ice crackling beneath your feet, a raven cawing in the distance, frost falling off a branch as you brush past it.

Look close and see the kaleidoscope that new snow makes on frozen grass when illuminated by the rising sun. Look across the water and trace the patterns of new snow on the distant mountains. Take a break from the hectic city and enjoy one of the wild places in our backyard. Before the snow flies, the cold weather freezes patterns into the landscape.

If you’ve got a few hours, a hike down the Turnagain Arm Trail can be the perfect bookend to the season. Typically, the 9.4-mile trail from Potter Marsh to Windy Corner is among the first in Anchorage to dry out each spring. But by late fall, all the leaves are down, revealing wide-open vistas of Turnagain Arm and the Kenai Mountains across the water.

The three miles between Potter and McHugh Creek include about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. Less than a mile in, a bench overlooks the Turnagain Arm. Moose can be plentiful in this portion of the trail.

Watch for views of the North and South Suicide peaks. About halfway, look down at Beluga Point on the shore of Turnagain Arm. Toward the end of your hike, there’s a nice rock ledge that offers views of Windy Corner and the town of Hope on the other side of the Arm. You're probably most likely to spot a Dall sheep near Windy Corner.

Contact Mike Campbell at mcampbell(at)alaskadispatch.com