Avoid Campbell Creek trails in Far North Bicentennial Park until fall, bear experts say

Anchorage's outdoors enthusiasts are being asked to avoid trails in Far North Bicentennial Park that closely follow Campbell Creek for the rest of the summer and fall, as an unusually strong return of sockeye salmon is drawing brown bears to the area.

Last week, four brown bears were spotted on upper Campbell Creek by a state fish-counting crew – more bear sightings than normal, the state Department of Fish and Game said on Friday. A large male was spotted on the north fork, and a sow with two nearly grown cubs were spotted on the south fork.

"It's a particularly dangerous time to be on trails in that area," Anchorage area wildlife biologist Dave Battle said in a written statement.

[Strategies for staying safe in bear country]

Rover's Run is particularly dangerous, but Battle said that "all trails along Campbell Creek's north and south forks" should be avoided until at least mid-October, when bears begin going into hibernation.

Rover's Run, also called Mellen's Way, is known for its history of maulings. In 2008, a woman was badly injured by a bear, and six weeks later, an avid trail runner was mauled in the same area. The trail was closed in 2009 by the city, and in 2010, another mauling occurred.

"It's definitely an annual warning," Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh said of the call to avoid the trail.


This year, though, sockeye numbers are coming in more than five times greater than the 10-year average, Fish and Game said. Coho runs will follow in August, and remain in the stream until at least mid-October.

A city park of 4,000 acres, Far North Bicentennial attracts mountain bikers, runners, hikers, dog walkers, anglers and others to an array of trails, some of which parallel Campbell Creek. The Bureau of Land Management estimates 80,000 people a year use the park.

If you still want to use other trails in the park, make sure to bring a deterrent, like bear spray, Marsh said, and follow other basic bear safety tips, like making loud noises.

"Remember, there's lots of other places to hike," Marsh said.

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Laurel Andrews

Laurel Andrews was a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, Alaska Dispatch News and Alaska Dispatch. She left the ADN in October 2018.