The abbreviation S24O (for Sub-24-hour Overnighter) comes from the bikepacking community, but it can be applied to any outdoor recreational activity. It’s a helpful way to get yourself out the door when life keeps getting in the way.
Here’s the thinking: Big trips take big commitments, but small trips don’t. And small trips are better than no trips at all! To make things easier (and travel lighter), leave after dinner (or eat at your car at the trailhead if you’re driving to the start) and have a cold breakfast. No stove to carry, less water to use!
S24O’s don’t have to be limited to biking or even to trails. But if you are tenting in a place other than a developed campground, please remember to camp a ways off the trail. In fact, looking for good tent spots can be a fun thing to do while on day outings.
Here’s a post about a bikepacking S24O on the Mastodon Trail in the Chena River State Recreation Area.
Here’s a few other Fairbanks-area suggestions for summer:
Several cabins offer choices for everything from backpacking to bikepacking to ATVing. The shortest distance to a cabin is 2 miles (Compeau), while the longest is probably the 18 miles to Colorado Creek Cabin (via the Compeau Trail). Angel Creek Hillside Trail (motorized and nonmotorized) has two cabins: Lower Angel Creek Cabin (5.7 miles) and Upper Angel Creek Cabin (10 miles).
The Stiles Creek Trail (motorized and nonmotorized) has some places for tenting, as do the nonmotorized Granite Tors and the Angel Rocks to Chena Hot Springs trails (both those also have first-come, first-served trail shelters). Either end of Chena Dome Trail (nonmotorized) also offer some good tenting spots.
People can also bike tour along Chena Hot Springs Road. The closest campground is Rosehip (Mile 27 CHS Road) and there are several more. Or you can rent one of the roadside public use cabins.
Lee’s Cabin is just 7 miles along Trail Creek Trail from the Wickersham Dome Trailhead at Mile 27 Elliott Highway. The trail is open to motorized and nonmotorized travel. There are good tent sites along the way and also up the Summit Trail (nonmotorized only) to and past Wickersham Dome. (A first-come, first-served trail shelter is several miles out Summit Trail.)
U.S. Creek and Nome Creek roads offer good gravel biking. Developed campgrounds are at either end of Nome Creek Road. Quartz Creek Trail (motorized and nonmotorized) has several good camping spots along its 17 miles.
Chatanika State Parks Campgrounds
Lower Chatanika River State Recreation Area: This includes Olnes Pond and Whitefish Campground. Both are just about 10 miles out the Elliott Highway. Accessible via the Elliott Highway and trails (if you know how to connect trails to Old Murphy Dome Road and then to Treasure Creek Trail).
Upper Chatanika River State Recreation Site: At Mile 39 of the Steese Highway, this is a bit of a bike for a S24O, but doable for those in really good shape.
Chena Lake Recreation Area (borough facility)
Just 22 miles or so from downtown Fairbanks (a couple miles longer if you take Badger Road, which has a bike path). Camp at the lake or down at the River Park. Both have nonmotorized trails for more hiking or biking.
An island in the lake just a few minutes paddle from the boat launch has several tent spots and is a nice place for a quiet get-away.
Tanana Valley State Forest
The Tanana Valley State Forest has several nearby forestry roads and some have good camping spots. These are popular during hunting season. However, be aware that some areas and roads may be closed or restricted at times due to logging or other forestry activities. Use caution.
Bonanza Creek Forestry Road: There are several places to camp along this road, but a prime one is at the bluff overlook about 5 miles in. This is easily accessible and many people use it so you may not get privacy. Also, don’t camp right on the bluff.
For information on other forestry roads in the area, see this page.
All sorts of ways to get out for a short trip. Those are just a few ideas. Anyone have any more?