Updated: June 3, 2002
(This will be my last Spring Trail Reports compilation for this year. We’ve got some trails and trail sections that remain wet long into the summer. Please treat these gently.)
Trails in Interior Alaska are vulnerable this time of year. As the snow melts it uncovers trails that are soft and muddy. We can create ruts and other damage that will last the rest of the season (or longer). Let’s try to stay off fragile trails as long as we can and use well-drained trails that are ready for use.
Besides these Spring Trail Reports, here are some other resources:
- Many local trails are on Trail Forks. Users can post and read trail reports using the app, which can be accessed with devices, such as a smartphone, or a laptop. Read trail reports and add your own.
- The Fairbanks Borough trail report.
- Alternatives to Damaging Soft/Muddy Trails
CURRENT SPRING TRAIL REPORTS
If you don’t know where some of the trails are below, check this page.
MAJOR TRAIL SYSTEMS – Quick synopsis (see below for fuller reports)
- Birch Hill Recreation Area: Ready for summer use. Bicycles please avoid damaging wet sections.
- University of Alaska Fairbanks: Most trails ready for summer use but there are some wet places (see detailed report below); always be careful traversing wetter, lower sections.
- Chena River State Recreation Area: Trails are open to all use, including motorized where allowed.
- White Mountains National Recreation Area: Roads are open, but trails still closed to motorized use
OTHER LOCAL TRAILS (reports from Facebook unless otherwise noted)
ESTER DOME SINGLETRACK TRAILS (Trail Forks)
May 26: There remain areas that are very muddy or snow covered. The inner loop and lower section of the outer loop are open. See map. A number of down trees block the trail. There are lots of sticks on the trail as well. Be careful. Please help out by removing stick and down trees.
May 10: Trails closed until the trail surface firms up. Please stay off and protect these great trails. Updates will be posted on the Ester Dome Single Track Facebook page
June 2: Secret trail is dry and good. The main skyline ridge trail had a bit of a bog where the goldstream connector meets it. I haven’t been down Afterhours yet, but others say it’s pretty wet still.
June 2: I hiked Afterhours on Monday. The wet areas are easily traversed by moving along the sides. I didn’t think it was too bad. No bikes for a bit yet, please.
June 2: Many of the Pearl Creek Trails are quite wet.
June 2: mostly dry near ballaine…but bring rubber boots to ford the wet zones.
May 29: Reports on Facebook are that Bison Gulch Trail is in great condition.
MAJOR TRAIL SYSTEMS – Fuller Reports
Birch Hill Recreation Area
From NSCF Trails Head Groomer and Birch Hill Borough Manager:
June 2: Trails look good. White Cub is closed for at least two weeks because of a sink hole.
May 26: Trails are 99% snow free. Sections that are well shaded or poorly drained are still somewhat soft; the wettest of these sections still can be damaged by bicycle traffic. During the summer please avoid the sections of the White Bear below the Biathlon Range both the outbound and the inbound sections; pleas use Biathlon Way to traverse that area.
The Army has plans to work at the range this summer so keep an eye out for equipment.
The Ski Club has a grant to do trail improvements through out the trail system. This project is not scheduled to start until mid- to late-July.
Borough will begin to carefully put up disc golf baskets.
University of Alaska Fairbanks
From North Campus Manager Kara Axx:
May 26: The higher elevation trails located on the West Ridge (near the ski hut) are drying out pretty well and mostly firm. Low areas near the lakes and areas marked as wet trails on our maps will likely still be impassable at this point and should be avoided to prevent damage to the trails. The runoff has also opened up a few thermokarsts (creating sinkholes), so please be aware. If users encounter an unmarked thermokarst, please email Kara Axx (firstname.lastname@example.org) so it can be marked and put on the fill list.
- June 2: Email from Stan Justice: I have checked out all the wet portions of 6 mile Skarland Trail and typical summer conditions. We spots are wet and dry are dry. Run on the low side of the trail as the degraded wood chips impede drainage. Bikes wedge the chips to the sides so do the most damage.
- May 31: Alaska Endurance Run post: Rulon Jensen walked the course on Sunday, two days ago, and sent this report: “I walked the 6-mile loop today. The course is in good shape—generally dry with a couple moist or damp spots. Someone trimmed the pine saplings that crowded the trail (thanks to whoever did that!). The trimmings are still there but not a big deal at all. The normal super wet spot by the Potato Field has been mostly solved with a drainage ditch that can be easily stepped over; it’s now only a bit soggy (yay!). I counted three fallen trees to step over. None are more than a few inches off the ground. I hardly had to break stride. A few areas of concern”:
- At about 0.45 miles (going counterclockwise), there’s the usual puddle. It is larger than normal. The planks there are submerged.
- The trail entry at Ballaine Lake (by the outhouse) is suck-your-shoes-off muddy. Of course, it could be dried out in time.
- The pond that usually blocks the way is now a small lake, blocking both paths around it. The Equinox arrow sign is almost entirely under water; it’s that deep. [We have a possible reroute that we’ll evaluate when marking the course. No need to pack your swimsuits just yet.]
- There are some fallen trees hung up over the trail in a few places. There is plenty of head clearance, but a strong wind could bring these down.
- The road coming up from the T-Field is like a slip-n-slide with mud. If it’s like this during the event, many will be falling down (yes, I almost went on my rear and I was just walking!). There is a wide path that parallels much of the road in this spot with good footing.
Chena River State Recreation Area
Alaska State Parks Facebook post:
- From June 2 Fairbanks Area Hiking Club Facebook post: Chena Dome 6/2/2022: The trail was mostly dry and in great shape. Still patches of snow in places but manageable to get around. Brush was heavier the second half. No signs of bears. Able to get water from snow and a few run offs/puddles. The catchment system at the shelter cabin (17 mile) should not be relied on…one bucket was empty and the other was filthy. The trail was nicely marked.
- From May 22 Fairbanks Area Hiking Club Facebook post: Angel Rocks had zero concerns for us today, and it was our first time ever doing it. A little muddy and snowy at the beginning of the trail, but we both did it in hiking shoes—not even boots— no prob! I mean, the trail conditions weren’t a problem. The physical condition of the hikers is a little shaky. Haha
- From May 22 Fairbanks Area Hiking Club Facebook post: Scouted the Granite Tors trail today. Was able to make it about 2.5 miles past the wye in the clockwise direction before hitting deep, rotting snow and turning around. I made it about 1.5 mikes past the wye in the counterclockwise direction before turning around due to snow. It’s not quite there yet for the full circle.
White Mountains National Recreation Area
The Wickersham Creek, Trail Creek, and Quartz Creek trails are closed to all motorized vehicles, including off-highway vehicles, to give the trails time to dry out after this winter’s large snowpack led to extremely saturated and soft trails.
The trails remain open for hiking and other non-motorized use.
The temporary closure began in May and is anticipated to last until June 15 or until the trails are sufficiently dry to allow use that will not cause damage to the trails.
For more information call (907) 474-2200.
- May 26 (Fairbanks Area Hiking Club FB post): We hiked table top mountain this past Monday 5/23. Gorgeous views, beautiful day, great weather. We had to add about 1-1.5 miles to our trip to avoid huge patches of snow, and had to trudge through some. Trail is do-able and relatively easy imo with a steady incline. We had the entire mountain to ourselves! Well worth it. Mind the wind. Be prepared to get wet and muddy.
- From the Fairbanks Area Hiking Club FB page: Wickersham Creek Trail Update as of May 15. SNOW. We broke trail with snowshoes for 6 hours to get to Lees Cabin. Feet of fresh snow.