Fairbanks Winter Trails Guide 2021-2022

Page 1


DEC 20, 2021 - APR 1, 2022


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

TRAILS CHALLENGE QUESTIONS: 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.


SPECIAL WEATHER NOTE FOR 2022: Winter 2022 has brought us unprecedented weather with a treacherous snow-ice-snow sandwich! Now that you've plowed your driveway and shoveled you roof...

What does this mean for trails? We're well into January and trail managers and user groups are still busy packing and grooming through the snow and ice. Challenge and hazard from this storm will likely last throughout the winter in the Interior region. When you venture out, expect the following:

Extremely difficult travel off-trail.

When at all possible, stay on the packed trail! Traveling in groups adds security for when you get stuck in the deep stuff. Photo: Garrett Jones/BLM

More wildlife encounters on the trail.

Moose are taking to the trails, roads and driveways for easier traveling, desperate to rest from breaking through the deep snow and ice to access food and safety. Meanwhile, wolves take advantage of exhausted moose slowed down by the snowpack. The moose you encounter may be grumpy and reluctant to leave the trail. Do not confront or try to scare moose in a trail. TURN AROUND. Stressed moose may more likely attack. They will be especially aggressive to anything resembling a wolf. KEEP YOUR DOGS LEASHED and stay alert.

Copious "overflow" water and ice.

Winter trails across or near lakes, rivers and streams may have a extra liquid water, known as "overflow," crossing them. Be prepared for surprises and wet feet this year!

This is a time to be extra cautious on the trails and plan with flexibility and safety in mind. Plan for challenging conditions, getting stuck in deep snow, and be prepared to turn around to avoid an unfriendly wildlife encounter.




REGISTER for free at parks.fnsb.gov.


FIND the signs that say “Fairbanks Trails Challenge”


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


SHARE your “selfie.” Here are three ways to share:


COMPLETE the checklist to claim the Trailblazer Award!

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.

Twenty signs are located somewhere along the trails on the list. Keep an eye out for orange trail markers—the sign will be near!

Post your photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and type “#FNSBtrails” in your post! (Note: Posting and emailing photos is not a requirement this year, but it's still a fun way to share you trail triumphs!)

Find the checklist on the registration page. Let us know which trails you made it to and we can tally up the winners!

Submit the checklist by april 1st 2022! PAGE 3


FFairbanks Trails Challenge signs and you will earn the "Trailblazer Award!" the distinctive dist

Junior Trailblazer

Sourdough Trailblazer

Find at least FIVE signs For kids under 10 !

Find at least FIVE signs For folks 60 & up!

LEAVE NO TRACE: 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. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT WWW.LNT.ORG PAGE 4

TRAILS CHALLENGE TIPS: 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.

about Nordic skiing... Also called "cross-country" skiing! It 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! PAGE 5

TRAIL ETIQUETTE: 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.


MAPS AND APPS TO GET YOU THERE: DOWNLOAD THE MAP: 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.

MAP AND APP TIPS: 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!


2021/2022 WINTER TRAILS: Use this page as a checklist to make sure you meet your goal!


Difficulty: EASY

1) Chena River Walk @ Griffin Park, Downtown 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.

Distance: 0.3 miles what's allowed:

Photo: Amanda Bohman/News Miner PAGE 9

Difficulty: EASY 2) old ski field @ Pearl Creek Nordic Ski Trails 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.

Distance: 1 km + what's allowed: ski only.


3) Flicker Trail @ Tanana Lakes Recreation Area JAN 20, 2022 UPDATE: THE HOLIDAY STORMS HAVE CAUSED UNPRECEDENTED OVERFLOW ON THE LAKE. UNTIL CONDITIONS CHANGE CONSIDERABLY, LAKE TRAILS WILL REMAIN CLOSED. ONLY LAND TRAILS WILL BE MAINTAINED. FLICKER AND EAGLE TRAILS ARE BEING MAINTAINED. Get there: Parking for the Flicker Trail is near the South Cushman park entrance or at the Picnic Pavilion off Northlake Lane. This is a non-motorized trail.

Difficulty: EASY

Distance: 0.5 miles what's allowed:

Tips: This is a non-motorized trail. Trails are fairly wide and flat and groomed throughout winter. You can also add on the Chickadee trail for some secluded views of the lake's east side.

4) Eagle Trail @ Tanana Lakes Rec Area Get there: At the end of South Cushman, turn right onto Northlake Lane to get to TLRA. Trailhead parking is by the non-motorized boat launch for Cushman Lake. Tips: This is a non-motorized trail. Eagle trail is fairly wide and flat and is packed and groomed in the winter. For a nice loop almost 2.5 miles long, at the end of Eagle Trail continue north on the plowed road along the east side of the lake, then follow Flicker Trail and Sandpiper Trail to connect back to the lake’s west side. Walk south from the Swim Beach back to the parking area!

Difficulty: EASY

Distance: 0.7 miles what's allowed:


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5) pooch loop Trail @ UAF Trail system Get there: Free parking can be found at Ballaine Lake trailhead off Farmer's Loop Road. Parking on campus requires a permit from UAF Parking Services during the day. Short term permits can be purchased at kiosks at each parking lot. After 5pm no permit required. For trail maps visit: https://www.uaf.edu/fs/northcampus/trailmaps/

Difficulty: EASY - Moderate Distance: 1-2 mi what's allowed:

Tips: The UAF North Campus Trails are primarily ski-only! No walking, snowshoeing, biking or dogs on designated ski trails. But you can walk, bike and snowshoe on the Pooch Loop and commuter trails! Trails are very narrow; it can be tricky to stay balanced on the packed snow. Start behind the Murie building at the corner of N. Tanana Loop and Sheenjek Drive. Head north, look near the trail junctions!


6) River Park 2.5km loop @ chena lake rec area 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.

Difficulty: EASY - Moderate

Distance: 2.5 km Loop (follow black markers) what's allowed:



7) WARM UP LOOP @ birch hill recreation area 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. Warm Up hut open 24/7. Info: 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/. Tips: Warm Up Loop is lighted at night. It has a nice mix of rolling hills of different steepness. It's a nice, mellow trail to start your ski day, test your wax conditions, and practice technique. Look for the sign on an uphill, so you can relax and enjoy the downhills!

Difficulty: EASY - Moderate

Distance: 1.5 km what's allowed: ski only.

no dogs.


8) moilanen meadows @ birch hill recreation area 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: Moilanen Meadows is not lighted. Wear a headlamp for night skiing. Follow the route for White Bear 10k trail out of the stadium, then take the Suicide Cutoff or the Sonot Cutoff to access Moilanen Meadows. The trail is very fun and wide, with winding turns and short hills. Moose love this meadow, so keep and eye out! Look for the sign on an uphill, so you can relax and enjoy the downhills!

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 4 km + (from stadium)

what's allowed: ski only.

no dogs.


9) Skyline Ridge Trail @ Skyline Ridge park 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 small 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 very limited; Please park courteously and do not block any driveways. 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 left the park! Time to turn around.

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 1.25 miles

what's allowed:


10) 100 mile loop trail @ isberg recreation area 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: This trail section is actually only 1 mile of a longer, proposed trail loop! But you can make a cool 3 mile triangle-shaped loop starting here. 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.

Distance: 3 mile loop what's allowed:






East-West Pow

Range Line Trail





Difficulty: moderate

erline Trail


11) tanana Valley Railroad Trail @ Goldstream Public Use Area UPDATE FEB 2022: THIS SIGN IS INSTALLED! Get there: Parking for the Goldstream Public Use Area is at a pullout off Ballaine Road, immediately south of the Goldstream Creek bridge. Follow trail heading northeast. Tips: Look for the sign 1.5-2 miles in. The maintained trail veers to the right onto the ponds (ORANGE on the map), while a smaller trail continues straight, up a small hill into thick spruce (RED trail). GO STRAIGHT, following a yellow-orange trail marker. Look near the abandoned rail trestle—Cool! This is a multiple-use trail system. The Goldstream Public Use Area (GPUA) is owned/managed by the Alaska Dept of Natural Resources. The FNSB and the Interior Alaska Land Trust are also neighboring landowners that keep these trails publicly accessible. Local mushers and trail users pack 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. When conditions are good, you can make a 5 mile loop: at 2 miles veer left to cross Goldstream creek and the lake to connect to the Eldorado Creek Trail (PURPLE on map), 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!

Difficulty: moderate

Distance: 2-4 miles what's allowed:



12) West Farm Field Loop @ Creamer’s Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge 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 (ADMA) work together and volunteer their resources to groom a looped trail system around the farm fields to the east and west of the Farmhouse. Head north from the Farm House and veer left. Look near the seasonal pond on the north west side! You can stay on the field for short loops, or continue west onto the VERY vast ADMA trail system.

Difficulty: easy

Distance: 0.75 mi Loop for west field

what's allowed:


13) 2.5km loop @ two rivers recreation area

Difficulty: moderate

UPDATE FEB 2022: THE SIGN IS INSTALLED! 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!

Distance: 2.5 km Loop

what's allowed: ski only.



14) sting loop @ Salcha Nordic Ski Trails

Difficulty: moderate Difficult

UPDATE JAN 20, 2022: THIS SIGN HAS NOT YET BEEN INSTALLED. 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 red trail markers for the 5km loop. If you're eager for a challenge, try one of the longer loops, or be sure to hit the Grizzly Loop on the way back! You'll surely be practicing your herringbone skills! Aside from a couple 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!

Distance: 5 km + loop

what's allowed: ski only.


15) wickersham Creek Trail @ white mountains recreation area

Difficulty: difficult

UPDATE FEB 2022: THE SIGN IS INSTALLED! Get there: Northwest of Fairbanks, Alaska, the Wickersham Creek Trail begins at the Wickersham Dome Trailhead is at MP 28 Elliott Highway. Yes, this is the same trailhead as for Wickersham Dome summit trail, but take the Wickersham Creek trail instead! Tips: Look for the trail sign about 6 miles in, near the major trail junction before the trail to Lee's Cabin. Can't miss it! The White Mountains National Recreation Area is managed by the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Alaska's Eastern Interior Field Office. The winter trails here promise high-adventure of any size. Do a short outand-back or ski loop, or plan a multi-day adventure covering more than 100 miles, staying at public use cabins along the way! No matter the distance, be prepared for any kinds of conditions. While trails are groomed by BLM staff throughout the winter, on any given day you may encounter exposed windy ridgelines, deep and cold valleys, and cumbersome snow drifts. The trails are hilly and strenuous. Please familiarize yourself with BLM-White Mountains National Recreation Area regulations regarding OHV use if you plan to use that equipment. For more info go here: https://www.blm.gov/visit/white-mountains and here: https://www.blm.gov/visit/white-mountains/trail-update

Distance: 11 miles round trip minimum what's allowed:


16) Stiles Creek Trail @ Chena River State Recreation Area UPDATE JAN 20, 2022: THE WINTER 2022 SIGN HAS NOT YET BEEN INSTALLED. THE WINTER 2021 SIGN IS STILL OUT THERE (NEAR JUNCTION WITH STILES CREEK EXTENSION) AND CAN BE FOUND FOR CREDIT UNTIL THE SIGN IS RELOCATED! 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 31.6 Trailhead.

Difficulty: very difficult

Distance: 18 + mi Loop what's allowed:

Tips: Refer to the Stiles Creek Trail and cabin guide from State Parks: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/maps/stilescrktrail13.pdF. Find current trail condition updates here: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/asp/chenariverreport.pdf




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