Six-pack of singletrack

Janice Tower’s six favorite mountain biking trails in Southcentral:

1) Hillside Singletrack Trails — 8 miles

Eight miles of singletrack on the Anchorage Hillside. These trails were designed by mountain bikers for mountain bikers. As such, they are swoopy, have incredible flow and offer breathtaking vistas of downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains. Riding these trails is like being on a human powered roller coaster. Be prepared to smile a lot when riding these trails.

2) Lost Lake Trail — 16 miles

This 16-mile trail, 100 miles south of Anchorage, is my favorite trail on the Kenai Peninsula. The singletrack is technical and there are magnificent views of Resurrection Bay, surrounding glaciers and mountain lakes above tree line. A hemlock forest with its lush carpet of moss lead many to refer to the area below tree line as the “Sherwood Forest.” This is probably one of the most scenic trails on the Kenai Peninsula.

3) Resurrection Trail — 40 miles

Accessible from Cooper Landing near the Russian River Campground or Hope, this trail qualifies as an epic ride due to its length and remote character. After a good amount of climbing at a reasonable grade from either direction, riders are treated to a high alpine with abundant wildflowers, high mountain lakes, craggy peaks and a variety of wildlife — making it a must-do for local and visiting mountain bikers. Several Forest Service cabins along the way allow riders to divide up the trip. A popular spur of the Resurrection Trail is Devil’s Pass, 10 miles from the Seward Highway trailhead to the summit of Devil’s Pass. It’s a stiff climb up Devil’s Pass to the summit, but when ridden from the Resurrection Trail junction at the summit in the downward direction, the trail is fun with incredible flow.

4) Johnson Pass — 24 miles

With trailheads near Turnagain Pass and Moose Pass, this reasonably technical trail is narrow and often pockmarked with cow parsnip, the pungent weed that can cause a nasty rash. Johnson Pass is best ridden in early summer before cow parsnip obscures the trail.

5) Russian Lakes — 22 miles

Accessible from Snug Harbor Road and the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, Russian Lakes trail offers intermediate to advanced terrain near a river thick with spawning salmon. The challenging ride is doable in a few short hours, but riders must always beware of bears when the salmon are running.

6) Crescent Lake — 13 miles round trip

Some 100 miles south of Anchorage, with a trailhead near the Crescent Lake Lodge in Cooper Landing, this beautiful trail is cut into the hillside adjacent a swiftly flowing stream below Crescent Lake. A thick layer of needles from evergreen trees gives this trail a buffed-out character with a mostly smooth surface, while occasional shale outcroppings provide some technical challenges. This is an excellent trail to practice riding switchbacks. Bring a fly rod and fish at Crescent Lake, a clear mountain pool at the top of this scenic ride.