Mountainbike trails in Anchorage technically open to riders June 1, but bikers are being asked to show judgment and avoid muddy areas to keep from tearing up those trails. Late-arriving summer in Alaska means trails still muddy, though improving as the sunlight lengthens to bakes them.
Cyclists hitting the trails in Anchorage's popular 1,400-acre Kincaid Park are also reminded to be alert for moose and bears. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game this week removed the carcass of a bear-killed moose calf from near the Kincaid Road gravel pit to keep the bear that killed it from hanging around, but bears roam the entire park and moose were a nightmare last year.
At least three cyclists suffered significant injures at Kincaid last June after encountering protective cow moose with calves on the bike trails. Cows can be extremely protective of their young in June, especially in areas where bears are trying to eat their young.
Just this week, Anchorage Parks and Recreation warned cyclists to avoid the Lee's Trail in Kincaid this week because there was a moose with a calf camped out in the middle of it. "From what we learned last year,'' noted Parks and Recreation's Facebook page, "she will probably not be moving until her calf is mobile. She will protect it ferociously."
Here's 2011 YouTube video that shows just how quickly a Kincaid Park bike ride can be ended by a moose:
Chugach trails may stay closed until July
South of Anchorage in Chugach National Forest, temperatures pushing into the 70s made it feel like summer has suddenly descended, but unfortunately the trails in the Chugach National Forest aren't quite ready.
Managers of the 5.4-million-acre recreational playground are warning mountain bikers that most trails remain officially closed until July 1, while cautioning hikers to be prepared for mud and snow. Anyone considering an early trip over the popular Resurrection Pass Trail best bring snowshoes, according to the agency's Irene Lindquist. The snow is still plenty deep at higher elevations.
She suggested snowshoes for anyone planning to try to get beyond:
• Mile 5 of the Devil's Creek Trail, which offers the shortest access to Resurrection Pass;
• Mile 2 of the 3.5-mile Carter Lake Trail;
• Mile 3 of the 7.5-mile Lost Lake Trail; and
• Mile 4 of the 7.5-mile Primrose Trail.
Lindquist says it is possible to make it to the end of the 6.5-mile Crescent Lake Trail near Cooper Landing without snowshoes, but you'll be wading thorough snow the final 3 miles. The lake is popular with grayling anglers, but grayling fishing at the lake doesn't open until July 1.
Snow-free hiking is still limited to lower elevations. Lindquist reported the Lower Russian Lake Trail is dry for about three miles from the Sterling Highway to the lake, and the southern end of the Resurrection Pass Trail at Cooper Landing is clear for about the same distance.
For those who just can't resist the urge to get on the mountain bike, she suggested a ride on the Old Sterling Highway -- which looks more like an abandoned fire road than anything approaching a highway -- from the Tern Lake day-use area near the junction of the Sterling and Seward highways to the Quartz Creek Road out of Cooper Landing.
"You won't do any resource damage," she noted, but you're likely to encounter some mud.
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com