Sunday, October 27, 2019

New Non-Motorized Trail in Chena Rec Area Ready for Use

Story written for the November 2019 Interior Trails Newsletter

The Mastodon Trail, the newest trail in the Chena River State Recreation Area, is open and ready for use.
The non-motorized trail will be groomed and maintained by the Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation, including during the winter.
      “The plan is to routinely drag a tire and cut out blow downs over the winter,” Superintendent Brooks Ludwig wrote in an email. “With all the fire scars we anticipate a lot of trees falling into the trail.”
      Much of the trail goes through recently fire-scarred land. As of October 26, it was mostly cleared of fallen trees, but a few covered or partially covered the trail near its far end. The trail has incredible views due to the burns.
      “Mastodon Trail stays high contouring the hillside offering many scenic views of the valley and surrounding hills,” Jon Underwood, the contractor who built the trail, wrote in an October 11 post on the Alaska State Parks Facebook page.
Corrine riding the ridge on the way to the Nugget Creek Cabin. 
Eric arriving at the Nugget Creek Cabin.
Corrine walking her bike down a section that Eric foolishly tried to ride.
The last mile or so to the cabin had quite a bit of tree-fall.

      The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner recently had a story on the trail:
      The trail, which begins at mile 38.6 Chena Hot Springs Road, is about 13 miles long and ends at the Nugget Creek Cabin. Previously that cabin had been accessible only via the South Fork Winter Trail or the little-known and difficult Mist Creek Trail. Now the cabin will be accessible year-round. (See more on the cabin at: State Parks is partnering with The Folk School Fairbanks to build a new cabin that will be placed near the old cabin, but a little higher on the hillside. The old cabin is slowing sinking and will eventually be torn down, but for a while there should be two cabins available there. The News-Miner also had a story on the cabin project:

      Winter trail users should be aware that the trail has some icy spots about a quarter-mile on either side of the bridge over Mastadon Creek, at about 3 miles.

      One of the challenges for state parks will be to educate motorized users that the trail is for non-motorized use only. The trail is in a section of the recreation area designated for non-motorized use and the funds used to build the trail require that it remain non-motorized. The recreation area has several motorized trails, including the winter-only South Fork Winter Trail, which also accesses the Nugget Creek Cabin. Most other motorized trails are north of Chena Hot Springs Road.
      The addition of the trail adds a new possibility for non-motorized winter users. By connecting the Mastodon Trail and the South Fork and Chena Hot Springs winter trails, a loop of about 30 miles can be created, though it includes a couple of short road sections to connect trailheads. An even longer loop could be made by adding the Stiles Creek Trail.

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