For four straight weekends the end of July and first part of August, we headed to the hills in one form or another to pick berries. I didn’t expect that this would be one of the most enjoyable, relaxing, and productive fun things we would do here.
I’m in love with fresh blueberries! We’ve made 4 batches of blueberry freezer jam, blueberry syrup, blueberry pancakes, dutch oven berry cobbler, and frozen several quarts of berries for use through the winter. Worth the effort to pick them? Absolutely!
Berry Picking Alaska
Our berry picking excursions were concentrated in our favorite summer haunt of Hatcher Pass. MANY families headed up the canyon and over the top to the seemingly endless fields of berry plants.
Some camped out and spent hours combing the slopes for multiple types of berries. Other’s just stopped for a couple of minutes to grab a handful to eat. Either way, Alaska is rich with juicy gems!
While picking berries, we sampled blueberries, rose-hips, watermelon berries (yes they taste like watermelon strangely), crow berries, and cranberries. Our focus was on harvesting blueberries, but next year we will take our berry guide and expand our hunt to other varieties.
If you do decide to bring your kids to the hills for a berry picking fest, I do recommend making sure you understand what plant it is you are looking for and not allow the kiddos to stuff their faces with unknown berries. There are some poisonous varieties.
The Real Fun of Berry Picking
Family time was the real benefit of berry picking. Drive up…beautiful, scenery as we sat in the berry fields…stunning, and peace and quiet of nature…intoxicating.
Blueberries were on low lying bushes that are part of the thick tundra carpet that coated the hills. Saige, Haley and I planted ourselves in the ditches and dips of strange mounds that covered the mountains.
I have no idea what formed them so perfectly, but with the deep green colors, it felt like a scene out of The Hobbit.
Jeff, Bridger and Summer used the standing method. That was hard on the back. I had no problem crawling around on hands and knees in the soft plants, trying to cause as little damage as possible.
Basically, berry picking was a great excuse to get outside and enjoy mountain ambiance; with a sweet reward for just a little effort spent hiking around in the hills!
If you are in Alaska during berry season with or without the kids, I highly recommend berry picking for a cheap summer fun activity. We probably spent $10 on gas per trip, and actually saved money on what we would have spent for store bought berries.
Hatcher Pass is about an hour north-east of Anchorage near the Mat-Su valley, but berries are all over Alaska. Do your homework before you visit.
Oh and one more important tip…humans aren’t the only ones interested in berries, be bear aware.