Fairbanks Winter Trails Challenge Trail Guide 2020-2021

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PARKS & RECREATION Main Office: 1920 Lathrop Street, Fairbanks, AK Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:00 AM —5:00 PM Website: http://parks.fnsb.us Phone: (907) 459-1070 Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks & Rec FNSB_Parks_and_Rec FNSB Parks and Recreation

Contact the Trails Coordinator at bryant.wright@fnsb.gov or 907-459-7401. Check the Trails Office webpage for MAPS and INFORMATION! Follow the FNSB Parks & Recreation Facebook Page for updates.

NEW! View the Trail Conditions Report, your one-stop source for current winter trail conditions for cross-country skiing, snowmachining, fat-tire biking, snowshoeing, ice skating and walking in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Our team updates the winter trail conditions report weekly on Thursdays at 11AM throughout the winter season. Additional updates may be posted as they become available. To find the report, go to parks.fnsb.gov. Under Facilities, choose Trail Conditions.

CLICK HERE to register for free at parks.fnsb.gov. You must register for this program on the FNSB Parks and Recreation website. Your FREE registration helps us track participants and keep you in the know about important updates and trail closures.

FIND the signs that say “Fairbanks Trails Challenge” Twenty signs are located somewhere along the trails on the list. Keep an eye out for orange trail markers—the sign will be near!

Snap a PHOTO with the signs to prove you made it!

SHARE your “selfie.” Here are three ways to share: 1. Post your selfie on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and type “#FNSBtrails” in your post. Posts must be “public” so that we can keep track of your progress. Ensure you have the proper settings for your audience or privacy: For Instagram, you have to make your whole account public. In Facebook, you can selectively change posts to have a public audience.

2. Post a the photo on the Winter Trails Challenge Facebook Event Page. Add the “#FNSBTrails” hashtag. 3. Email your photos to parks@fnsb.us.

Make sure to share your photos by:

Make it too

FFairbanks Trails Challenge signs and you will:

Earn the elusive “Trailblazer Award!” Be placed in a drawing for awesome prizes from this year’s prize sponsors!

“Junior Trailblazer Award" for kids under 10 years old— Find d


Do you know the Leave No Trace principles for winter adventure? To minimize your impact during the winter months, remember to use these cold weather principles: Educate yourself on the area you plan to visit. Expect extreme weather and gear up for it. Never explore alone, but keep groups small. Avoid traveling close to tree limbs and brush. When frozen, they are fragile and can be easily broken. Pack out all waste. Do not bury trash in the snow or ground. Stay far from animals and suspected animal habitats. Hike only on trails intended for hiking. Do not walk in ski tracks.

Everyone was new to these trails at one time. Here are some tips to make your first couple trails as enjoyable as possible: 1. Start SMALL. Choose the right trail for your fitness level and experience level. Plan a hike that is suitable for everyone in your party and let the slower person set the pace. 2. KNOW where you GO. Familiarize yourself with the trail. Review maps and talk to someone who has done the trail before. 3. Check the weather. Weather can be unpredictable so remember to dress accordingly and pack extra warm layers. Consider winter factors like temperature inversions and wind chill. 4. Leave a PLAN. Tell someone where you are going. If you don’t make it back when you expect to, this person can alert your emergency contact. 5. PACE yourself. If you start out too fast you’ll tire out. Take your time and smell the roses! 6. Bring water. Drink often to stay hydrated and your pack will get lighter throughout the day! 7. Protect from the SUN. Use sunscreen and clothing to protect your skin, even on cloudy or cold days. 8. Bring FIRST AID. Inspect and replace missing items from your first aid kit before each hike. Skiing is a wonderful way to get outside and enjoy the trails in winter. Getting to ski on smoothly groomed trails or with pre-set tracks is especially nice. So many trails are maintained exclusively for skiing in the winter. Facilities with ski-only trails include Birch Hill Recreation Area, Two Rivers Elementary, Salcha Elementary, Pearl Creek Park and the University of Alaska North campus. If you’re new to skiing or don’t know where to start, here are some tips: 1. ·Go Flat: Learning to ski can be daunting at first, and let’s face it, hills are hard! Starting on the right trail can help. The Smith Lake loop at UAF is an excellent, flat place to learn and practice! Tanana Lakes, Chena Lake, and Pearl Creek Park all offer flat, groomed and track-set trails with many short-distance options that are great for learning. 2. ·Stay Warm: Choose a warm day, especially as temps may be colder at lower elevations where many flat trails exist. Warm gloves or mittens, ski boot covers and chemical toe warmers might save the day! 3. ·Find a friend: Take a friend for support. If they have some skiing experience, even better! A helper who can offer basic tips about equipment and technique can make the day less daunting. 4. ·JUST SKI!: The only way to learn is to strap ‘em on, grab some poles and go for it! Choose trails suited for your skill level and progress slowly. And remember, spandex is NOT required! 5. Need some skis? Our prize sponsors at Trax Outdoor Center, REI Fairbanks and Beaver Sports can help you find properly fitting skis, boots, poles and accessories. Our sponsors even offer lessons and rentals!

Multiple-Use Trails YIELD signs like the one here describe what to do in specific encounters, but always stick to the GOLDEN RULE: PRACTICE COMMON SENSE AND COURTESY! Typically you should yield to the passerby who has least stopping control. Always yield to dog teams and horses and give the animals plenty of space. Motorized trail users should slow speeds when encounters are possible. Hikers can usually step aside more easily than other users.

Respect the Land, Landowners and Neighbors Local trails cross a variety of types of terrain, land ownership and regulation. When out on the trails, remember: Plan ahead to know where you go and who owns the land. Respect private and public property by staying in the public trail corridor. Obey signage and land use rules such as allowable trail uses. Prevent damage by avoiding wet trails during spring break-up and heavy rains. Many good winter trails cross frozen bogs and cannot sustain summer use.

Tails on Trails Your furry friends need exercise too! Here are some things to remember when bringing your pets on a trail walk: You are responsible for your actions and the actions of your dog. Always keep your dogs properly restrained with a leash (FNSB code Title 22.28.010). Pick up any pet waste (FNSB Code Title 22.28.020). Yield the right-of-way to other trail users trying to get around your pet. Avoid disturbing wildlife and provoking dangerous encounters.

Individual PDF maps of many Borough trail systems are now available for download on our web page: parks.fnsb.us. Find maps under General Info > Trails Office These maps are designed for use on your GPS-enabled mobile device and can be displayed on any PDF reader. When viewed in an installed mobile application, each map will show your location on screen in real time. Cool! These maps can also be printed or viewed without using a special app.

Georeferenced map applications allow you to navigate using your mobile device’s GPS even without cellular reception! There are a variety of geo-referenced PDF apps available for Apple and Android devices. Consult your preferred mobile app’s instructions for complete information. We use an application called AVENZA MAPS, though other apps also work. Upload maps to the AVENZA app from Dropbox or your device storage.

Download the map onto your device BEFORE leaving cell reception! (Data rates may apply.) Enable Location Services so the mobile map application can show your location on the map. In areas with no cellular reception, phone battery life significantly decreases. Cold weather can also drain batteries! Using airplane mode will improve battery life and will not interfere with GPS tracking. File sizes for georeferenced maps may be very large. AVENZA recommends users connect to a WiFi network when downloading. Like all GPS technology, your device’s accuracy will be compromised by cloudy weather, cliff walls, canyons, tall buildings, or other obstructions. GPS is no substitute for preparedness! Research your destination. Plan, pack and dress accordingly!

Use this page as a checklist to make sure you meet your goal!

Get there: Parking for the Chena River Walk is near the Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitors Center on Dunkel Street.

Tips: This is a non-motorized, paved pedestrian path. Walking and biking are allowed on the path. Please leash all dogs and clean up all waste out of respect for other trail users. Path tends to be busy so please be aware of others.

Get there: Parking for the Kiwanis Field Loop is in the Big Dipper Ice Arena Parking Lot. The Big Dipper Ice Arena is located at 1920 Lathrop Street across from the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital campus. Tips: This is a non-motorized, groomed ski path. Walking is allowed on the path. Please do not walk in the ski tracks. Please leash all dogs and clean up all waste out of respect for other trail users.

Get there: Pearl Creek Nordic Park is between Ballaine Road, Auburn Drive and Herreid Road (Herreid is not maintained in winter). Nearby Parking is at Pearl Creek Elementary off Auburn Drive. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms are prohibited on school property. Tips: These are ski-only trails with a footpath loop woven in between. They are mostly plat trails that are great for novice skiers, in part thanks to grooming and track-setting by Pearl Creek & Skarland trail users.

Get there: Parking for the Skate Loop is located at the Non-Motorized Boat Launch at Tanana Lakes Recreation Area. Follow the signs past the Pavilion and Swim Beach. Tips: This is a non-motorized ice skating trail. Parks maintenance staff plow and mop the rink and skate loop when conditions allow.

Get there: Drive to the park entrance at the end of South Cushman. Find the trailhead parking lot on the right, just after Northlake Lane. Or alternatively, turn right on Northlake Lane and park at the picnic pavilion, first parking on the left. Tips: This is a non-motorized trail. For a longer journey, 1.5 miles roundtrip, start from the Flicker Trailhead.

Get there: From North Pole, take the Richardson Highway South, and exit Dawson Road following signs to Chena Lake Recreation Area. Follow Laurance Road eastward to enter CLRA. Near the end of the road, turn left onto the River Park Road. Parking is in 3/4 mile on your first left. Info: The River Park Trails offer loops of 2.5K (black markers), 4K (yellow markers) and 5.5K (green markers) distances. For this sign, follow the black markers along the Nature Trail and take the 2.5km cutoff. Tips: This is a non-motorized trail. Watch for moose– they like the riverbank and sloughs by this trail and have been known to surprise hikers and skiers. Keep your head up and make noise to avoid startling a moose and keep dogs on a leash. The Nature Trail hosts interpretive signs for learning about the area.

Get there: From the Chena Lake Rec Area road, turn Left onto the Lake Park Road. Trailheads are at the end of the Lake Park Road near the playground equipment or at the East Lake parking spot (the first pullout on your right). See the CLRA Winter Map. Watch out for moose! Tips: Trail is multiple-use in winter. The trail was originally established as a groomed mushing and skijoring trail. It’s also nice for skiing and is used by snowmachiners to access more remote areas. Yield to dog teams!

Get there: Parking for the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails is at the Birch Hill Recreation Area and Ski Center, located at 101 Wilderness Drive. Hours: 8am to 10pm. Gates close at 10pm. Tips: Birch Hill trails are SKI-ONLY in winter. The Ski Chalet and the warm-up hut are currently unavailable to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Doing many short laps up the gradual West Ramp hill and down the Stadium Hill is a great way to hone your ski technique!

Get there: Parking for the Jim Whisenhant Ski Trails is at the Birch Hill Recreation Area and Ski Center, located at 101 Wilderness Drive. Hours: 8am to 10pm. Gates close at 10pm. Tips: Birch Hill trails are SKI-ONLY in winter. White Bear, Classical Bear, Sunnyside and Sonot area trails are on US Army Ft. Wainwright lands. Register for your Recreational Access Permit to Army lands at https://usartrak.isportsman.net/. The Ski Chalet and the warm-up hut are currently unavailable to reduce the potential spread of COVID-19. Follow the route for White Bear 10k trail out of the stadium, then take the 07.km cutoff trail to get to Classical Bear. The classic-only trail is not too technical or hilly and meanders through a beautiful and varied forest.

Get there: From Farmer’s Loop Road, take Summit Drive to Cranberry Ridge, or Skyline Drive to the top of Crestline Drive then left to Cranberry Ridge. Follow Cranberry Ridge uphill to Noel Drive. Public access to the park is at the Skyline Ridge trailhead at the top corner of Noel Drive and M.I.A Street. Tips: This is a non-motorized trail. Parking at the trailhead is limited; Please park courteously. The trail is wide and starts with a long, moderate downhill. It’s a gentle hike but can be a challenging ski. Keep dogs on a leash and respect neighboring private property. If you end up at the KUAC antennae and tower at the top of Skiboot Hill Rd, you’ve gone too far!

Get there: Free parking can be found along West Tanana Dr near Sheep Creek Rd, or at the Large Animal Research Station off Yankovich Rd. Parking at West Ridge requires a permit from UAF Parking Services during the day, and after 5pm no permit required. For trail maps visit: https://www.uaf.edu/fs/northcampus/trailmaps/ Tips: The UAF North Campus Trails are primarily ski-only! No walking, snowshoeing, biking or dogs on designated ski trails. You can walk, bike and snowshoe on the commuter trails. Take care to follow the signs for this route! The T-Field Commuter Trail is the RED trail on the map below. If using the ski hut, follow COVID-19 related precautions for social distancing and face covering.

Get there: Drive out the Parks Highway past the Ester turn off. Take every road on the left after that (REALLY!) First Cripple Creek Road, then 1.5 miles to Isberg Road, then 200 meters to Oboe Ct. At this point, you park on the right side of the road. Tips: The Range Line is the long, mostly-straight trail going north-south. Access this via the "100 Mile Loop" trail or from the East-West Powerline trail. You can make a cool triangle-shaped loop with these three trails! This is a multi-use loop that's especially good in winter, as the boggy, low areas are too wet for summer traffic. For a less technical ski, try the loop clockwise.



East-West Pow

Range Line Trail








erline Trail

Get there: Parking for the Goldstream Public Use Area is at a pullout off Ballaine Road, immediately south of the Goldstream Creek bridge. Follow the trail heading east. Tips: This is a multiple-use trail system. The Goldstream Public Use Area (GPUA) is owned and managed by the State of Alaska Dept of Natural Resources. The FNSB and the Interior Alaska Land Trust are also neighboring landowners that keep these trail corridors publicly accessible. Local mushers and trail users groom and maintain the trails. Keep an eye out and yield the trail for dog teams– you might not hear them coming! There are many private residences adjacent to the GPUA and some trails may lead to private property. Follow the main groomed trails that have public rights-of-way (those pictured on the map) and respect private property signs to avoid trespass. Trails in the GPUA cross creeks, lakes and ponds and are typically only suitable for winter use. Even in extreme cold you may encounter wet overflow. Respect current conditions and terrain and plan accordingly. Look for this sign around 1 mile on the long, straight historic railroad grade. When conditions are good, you can make a nice 5 mile loop: at 2 miles veer left to cross Goldstream creek and the lake to connect to the Eldorado Creek Trail, then head back west toward Ballaine and follow the trails to the trailhead. This trail takes you back through the historic mining days of the Goldstream Valley, following the historical route of the Tanana Valley Railroad (TVRR). The TVRR was a narrow gauge railroad operating throughout the Tanana Valley from 1905-1917. This section through the Goldstream Valley was abandoned, while some sections have become part of the Alaska railroad. Nowadays you can see the old restored Engine No. 1 at the TVRR Museum and Engine House located at Pioneer Park!

Get there: Creamer's Field is located off College Road at the corner of Danby. Follow the signs to the Old Farmhouse and Visitor Center for trail parking. Tips: The trails at Creamer's field are non-motorized. Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge is owned and managed by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The Alaska Skijor and Pulk Association and the Alaska Dog Musher's Association work together and volunteer their resources to groom a looped trail system around the farm fields to the east and west of the Farmhouse. Follow the YELLOW, directional skijoring signs counter-clockwise around the east side farm field. Look for the sign in some trees with a view of the farmhouse.

Get there: The Two Rivers Recreation Area Ski Trails are adjacent to Two Rivers Elementary School. Drive to mile 18.5 Chena Hot Springs Road and turn onto Two Rivers Road. Parking is at Two Rivers Elementary. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms are prohibited on school property. Click Here to download a digital map! Tips: These are ski-only trails. The Two Rivers Ski Club grooms and sets track on these trails. Trails are wide enough for skate skiing. The trails are more difficult by distance: the longer trails feature progressively steeper hills. The “Mr. B” 1k loop is lighted after dark, but others aren’t. Go during daylight hours or bring a bright headlamp with fresh batteries!

Get there: Parking for the Salcha Trails is at Salcha Elementary, 8530 Richardson Hwy. Look for the trail map on the side of the shed to the left of the parking lot. Drugs, alcohol, tobacco and firearms are prohibited on school property. Tips: These trails are ski-only. Trails are groomed by volunteers with the Salcha Ski Club. Check their Facebook page for trail condition updates. Start to the left of the playground along the fence. Follow the directional trail outbound from the stadium field, and follow the blue trail markers for the 7.5km loop. If you're short on time, the sign can be found by taking the shortcut connector on Lynx Loop. Look for the sign after one of the most impressively steep hill climbs you've ever seen on a ski trail! You'll be practicing your herringbone to say the least, if you even still have your skis on! Aside from a small number of steep hills you might need to walk up or down, the ski trails here are quite manageable and very fun. Don't miss it!

Get there: You can start and park at two locations. At the bottom, travel up Ester Dome Road about 1 mile past the St. Patrick’s Road intersection. Parking is on the left at the Happy Valley Singletrack trails. Walk down Ester Dome Road a few hundred feet and look for the Equinox sign on the north (left/uphill) side of the road. For the top, drive up Ester Dome Road to the intersection with upper Henderson Road. Park at the corner and find the trail a hundred feet down Ester Dome Rd on the left. DON'T DRIVE UP FROM HENDERSON ROAD at Goldhill. The road is not maintained in winter and is single lane. Tips: This section is non-motorized. This is a notoriously tough uphill section of the Equinox Marathon that takes runners around Ester Dome Road to Henderson Road. Make a nice loop by doing the trail one way, and Ester Dome Road the other way. Or make a big loop by connecting to the singletrack mountain bike trail off Henderson. Hint: If you're in a hurry, have frozen fingers or chilly children, the sign is easier to find from the top at Henderson.

UPDATE: STILES CREEK SIGN WAS INSTALLED JANUARY 10, 2021! Get there: Three access points off Chena Hot Springs Road for Stiles Creek Trail. Lower Stiles Creek/Colorado Creek Trailhead MP 31.6; Upper Stiles Creek/Shooting Range MP 36.4; Stiles Creek Extension MP 41.6. We recommend starting at MP 36.4 Trailhead. Tips: Refer to the Stiles Creek Trail and cabin guide from State Parks: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/stilescrktrail13.pdf. Look for the sign on the ridge at the junction of the Stiles Creek Trail and the Stiles Creek Extension. Try this 15 mile loop: Park at the 36.4 Mi Rifle Range and go UP the upper Stiles Creek Trail. After about 5 miles, hit the ridgeline and go right onto to Stiles Creek Extension Trail. Keep right on this trail (there is a parallel trail that stays on the ridge, but it's steeper and more technical) and head downhill for about 5 miles along the face of the hill with great views below. Check your speed and be ready for some tight switchbacks. At the bottom, turn right onto the Chena Hot Springs Winter Trail. Follow the mostly flat and straight trail for about 5 miles back west, under the hills, past the Granite Tors parking, along or on the Chena River, and back through the woods to the Rifle Range! The trail is tough, steep and technical in the hills. The Extension Trail is less technical and better going downhill, plus the views are amazing. Thus, a clockwise loop is recommended.

Get there: From the Steese Hwy MP 20.5 at Cleary Summit, drive east on Fairbanks & Fish Creek Road. Winter parking is at the wellkept pullout in ž mile under Mt. Aurora where Fairbanks Creek Road turns to the left. Beyond the parking area, the remainder of Fairbanks Creek Road is not maintained for driving in winter but is open as a trail. Park then travel northeast on Fairbanks Creek Road for roughly 2.6 miles. The road becomes a wide winter trail. The true trailhead leaves the road on the left at a large clearing. Tips: The trail is especially popular for some really LONG snowmachine rides. The trail is a 58 mile route between Cleary Summit and Twelvemile Summit at MP 86.5 Steese highway. But you can expect to find the sign within about 5 miles of the Cleary Summit/Fairbanks Creek Rd trailhead. The trail lies in a statemanaged public right-of-way, crosses many private mining claims for the first several miles, and hosts many traplines in the winter. Respect private property and traplines, stay on the trail and keep dogs leashed and under control. This trail crosses some very rugged and remote terrain far from services. The trail is not formally maintained and gets tougher the farther you go. Travel with a buddy, take the proper winter equipment and navigation tools, and be prepared to be self-sufficient.

Get there: Northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska, the McKay Creek Trail begins at the McKay Creek Trailhead located at milepost 42.5 on the Steese Highway. Tips: From the Steese Highway, the trail climbs steeply for 5.5 miles to a ridge top and then follows open ridgeline for two miles before descending through spruce forests and open meadows to junction with Lower Nome Creek Trail. McKay Creek Trail continues to descend to cross Ophir Creek. Trail will climb steeply to a ridge before dropping again to Beaver Creek. Trail continues in lowlands to Trail Creek Trail. The trail crosses Alaska State land before entering the White Mountains National Recreation Area. It is maintained in the winter and is popular for snowmobiling, skiing, dog mushing, and fat biking. The winter trail is often used to access to the Cache Mountain Cabin (20 miles) and Richard's Cabin (21 miles). The Trails Challenge sign is along the ridgetop. Pay special attention to weather forecasts and take proper precautions and equipment. The exposed ridges and open valleys in this area can be brutally cold, especially in the wind.

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