Turnagain Arm Trail will be a busy place on Thursday evening

If you’re planning a hike for Thursday evening, be aware that the popular Turnagain Arm Trail will be crowded with runners.

After going virtual last year because of the pandemic, the Turnagain Arm Trail Run is back — but with a change that could create some congestion.

The 8-mile race is typically a point-to-point race between the Potter and Rainbow trailheads. This year it will be a round trip between Potter and McHugh Creek, because the trail between McHugh and Rainbow is closed due to bear activity.

There’s a moose carcass on that 4-mile stretch, and Chugach State Park superintendent Ben Corwin said Wednesday the trail will remain closed for at least a few more days.

The result will be lots of two-way traffic from Potter to McHugh on Thursday.

About 155 runners will leave Potter in four waves separated by two minutes beginning at 6:30 p.m. They’ll turn around on a little loop at the 4-mile mark at McHugh Creek and return to Potter. Back-of-the-pack runners usually finish in about two hours, sometimes less.

[Bear activity closes portion of Turnagain Arm Trail as hibernation ends]

There’s also a 4-mile race going from McHugh Creek to Potter. It has 30 entrants and also starts at 6:30 p.m.

“When I reached out to everyone, I told them to be considerate and try to stay on the right side of the trail,” said race director Anna Berecz.

State park officials closed the trail Sunday. Race organizers spoke with Corwin on Tuesday about their plans to reroute the race and were told they could proceed.

Corwin said the moose carcass is adjacent to the trail.

“It’s likely a winter kill,” he said. “It’s unknown how much meat was left on it at the time the bears discovered it. Typically when a bear finds a moose or kills a moose, depending on the size of the moose it takes about 10 days for a bear to consume all of the meat. They can become pretty defensive about that site.”

Park officials will probably check the scene this weekend, Corwin said. He said they want to wait a few more days in case bears are still defending the moose kill.

He said anyone using the Turnagain Arm trail — always one of the first trails near Anchorage to dry out in the springtime — should be bear and moose aware.

“This time of year we all love that trail,” Corwin said. “Bears do too, and moose do too. It’s a popular moose-calving area.”