November 26, 2021 Karen Lewis

#OptOutside This Winter in the KMTA National Heritage Area!

Photo by Paxson Woelber

#OptOutside This Year…

Spending time together and spending time outdoors has always been an integral part of life in the Heritage Area. Splitting and stacking firewood, preserving the summer and fall’s harvest, unpacking winter jackets and boots from storage, building snowmen, sharpening ice skates, waxing skis, and watching the northern lights are all activities that have been taking place in this region for as long as people have lived here and are still commonplace today! We work with a diverse network of partners to preserve this outdoor heritage and ensure that all Alaskans continue to have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor spaces and activities. 

Follow Anchorage Outdoor School…

Looking for ways to #OptOutside with your kids this year? KMTA’s Anchorage Outdoor School program will be launching their “100 Things To Do Before You’re 12” List on December 3rd. It’s the perfect time of year to check off activities like #37 (Catch snowflakes on your tongue) or #71 (Play freeze tag in the moonlight). Follow Anchorage Outdoor School on social media for weekly postings of activity ideas from the List!

KMTA NHA is actually a pass-through entity of the National Park Service and more specifically aligned with the Kenai Fjords National Park Service out of Seward, AK.  That means that the nonprofit is provided funds to create programming and grant funding to promote, protect, and preserve the natural and scenic areas of the region.

Photo by Joanie Havenner

The region encompasses the Eastern Kenai Peninsula. This includes the communities of Cooper Landing, Moose Pass, Seward, Hope, Whittier, Girdwood, Bird, and Indian.  The major travel corridors include the Johnson Pass Trail, Resurrection Trail, Iditarod National Historic Trail, Seward Highway, Sterling Highway, Resurrection River, Passage Canal (Gateway to the Prince William Sound), Kenai Fjords, and the Turnagain Arm (Gateway to the Cook Inlet).  There are many other travel corridors that are within the region that highlight Native Alaska house and fire pits, Mining refuse piles, and railroad debris.

 

Trail Ideas in the KMTA Area…

Here are some trail options in each community of the KMTA NHA. Any of these would make good hikes, snow shoes, fat bike rides, or cross country ski trips!

 

  • Indian: Indian Valley Trail
    • A single lane road takes you to the trailhead.  From there head up the valley.  There’s a split early on and you can turn left to access Powerline Pass Trail.  The Indian Valley is a gentle climb until about 4 miles back.  It can be thin early season and good for hiking.
  • Bird: Bird Creek Valley Trail 
    • Beware, this is also a motorized trail system which can make for nice packed trails to follow.  There is an extensive network of trail hidden in the woods behind the hamlet of Bird, AK that follows along or near Bird Creek.
  • Girdwood: Winner Creek Extension Trail
    • This trail can be thin for snow because it is so deep in the forest, so it is better for biking and hiking.  Start either at the Verbier Rd trailhead or the Alyeska Resort hotel.
  • Whittier: Shotgun Cove Road 
    • Once there’s enough snow the City of Whittier stops plowing past Lou Jung Park.  People snow machine, ski, and hike on the road to the overlook at the end of the road.
  • Portage: Trail of Blue Ice
  • Hope: Palmer Creek Road
    • Once there’s enough snow the Forest Service closes the road and it’s a nice hike, bike, or ski along the road.
  • Moose Pass: Trail River Campground
    • “Beautiful, easy roads.  Consistently groomed for skate and classic skiing. Limited parking at the gate on Trail River Campground Road, Mile 24.2 Seward Highway.  SKi about a mile past the gate along Trail River to the campground.  There are several loops and fire roads to explore, and you can venture out along the shore of Kenai Lake as well.” – Seward Nordic Ski Club
  • Seward:Exit Glacier Road
    • “Popular, multiuse, unmaintained road.  All uses allowed.  Dog teams have the right of way.  Restrain your god as the team nears and passes.  Though the Resurrection River Valley can be windy, the road provides shelter.  Sometimes groomed, best open flat route in the Seward area.” – Seward Nordic Ski Club
  • Cooper Landing: Old Seward Highway
    • “This five mile trail begins at Tern Lake and ends at the Crescent Creek Trailhead on Quartz Creek Road (ski from either side, but more of a descent by starting at Tern Lake).  Limited parking at the gate to the Tern Lake day use area.  This section of the Old Sterling Highway was brushed out several years ago.  Several thrilling hills and lots of moose. Active trapping along the road.” – Seward Nordic Ski Club

Dress for the Weather and Have Fun!

Remember to dress appropriately for the conditions, we are now headed into winter conditions.  Be prepared when going into the backcountry with food, water, and extra clothes.  Even though there is snow on the ground there have still been bear sightings in communities on the Kenai Peninsula.