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Photos: Early-season berry picking proves fruitful

While July isn't normally known as a prime berry picking time in Alaska, this year there are plenty of gems to be found, if you know where to look. These watermelon berries were found along the Turnagain Arm trail. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
While July isn't normally known as a prime berry picking time in Alaska, this year there are plenty of gems to be found, if you know where to look. Here, raspberries along Turnagain arm. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
While July isn't normally known as a prime berry picking time in Alaska, this year there are plenty of gems to be found, if you know where to look. Here, raspberries along Turnagain Arm. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
While not technically a berry, there are many tasty ways to prepare rosehips. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Baneberry is a poisonous plant often found near other edible berries in Alaska. Baneberry comes in both white and red varieties, and consumption of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
While July isn't normally known as a prime berry picking time in Alaska, this year there are plenty of gems to be found, if you know where to look. The back side of Flattop, pictured here, is one such spot. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Even if the berry picking isn't quite at its peak, a search for the tiny fruits can be worth the journey in itself. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
A ripe blueberry, hiding among small sub-alpine plants on a ridge overlooking Rabbit Creek. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Early-season blueberries gathered from a ridge above Rabbit Creek. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Crowberries are particularly plentiful throughout southcentral Alaska. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Bearberries are commonly seen, but are often overlooked in favor of more desirable plants like blueberries. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Viburnum, otherwise known as High Bush Cranberry, isn't technically a cranberry, but tastes similar. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Red currants are beginning to ripen, and can be found in shady areas. July 22, 2013
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

Ask any Alaska what time of season is best for berry picking and they'll likely say autumn, a two- or three-week "shoulder season" between summer's long nights and the first snow fall, when the temperatures are cooler and leaves turn. And that may usually be the case. But this year, waiting until fall may mean missing out: it's only mid-July and there are berries aplenty to pick.

Alaskans just have to know where to look. Raspberries, watermelon berries and crowberries are plentiful, with currants, blueberries and high bush cranberries ripening now.

Popular spots?

  • Blueberry picking is good near Anchorage on Flattop Peak, in Arctic Valley north of town, and almost anywhere above the treeline in the Chugach Mountains that encircle Alaska's largest city.
  • Crowberries and bearberries are likely abundant alongside the blueberries. Look in subalpine tundra.
  • Head into the woods for raspberries, watermelon berries and currants. A hike through Far North Bicentennial Park should offer plenty of options. Alternately, the Turnagain Arm trail, which runs 9 miles from Potter to Windy Corner, has berries and great views aplenty.

Be careful whenever berry picking in Alaska. Not only do the berries attract humans, but hungry bears as well.

How are the berries in your region of Alaska? Share your best berry-picking places in the comments below.

Contact Loren Holmes at loren(at)alaskadispatch.com