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.
- 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