November 16, 2021 Karen Lewis

National Take A Hike Day is November 17th!

The Gull Rock trail provides amazing views of Cook Inlet and the mountains of the Chugach.

The Gull Rock trail near Hope provides amazing views of Cook Inlet and the mountains of the Chugach. Photo by Steve Cleary

National Take a Hike Day

Today, we celebrate hiking not generally as our primary transportation, but for recreation and exercise.  Since the 1800’s hiking has become more popular as a pastime hobby and still enjoys a diverse popularity.  There are people that hike to conquer a peak, go hunting, fishing, trapping, bird watching, running, approach a rock climb, fly, ski, the list goes on.  Hiking and trails are an integral part of the history of the Kenai Mountains Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA NHA), all the way to the present day.  

The indigenous people moved over the landscape by hiking from their fish camps along the Kenai River to their caribou hunting in the Kenai Mountains.  They walked over Portage Glacier, as there was no lake then and down into the abundant waters of the Prince William Sound.  There have even been artifacts found in Girdwood near the waters of the Turnagain Arm.  

As explorers, fur traders, miners, and homesteaders made their way into and across the Kenai Peninsula their primary mode of travel over the land was hiking.  They hiked along the water, into the mountains, and through the rainy forests to find their riches in various forms.

Photo by Paxson Woelber

KMTA NHA is proud to be a strong advocate for our local trails and has helped facilitate 38 projects and about $323,207 worth of grant funding going toward trails since 2012.  These projects represent interpretive signs and wayfinding, trail planning and maintenance, trail building, education programs that get kids outside, and marketing material to promote trails.

Between torrential rain, causing slippery muddy trails, and unseasonable snows; it can be a tough time of year to explore trails in Southcentral Alaska.  Here are a few that are fairly safe bets because they are gravel or paved and in lower elevations:

  • Bird to Gird Bike Pathway (Indian, AK or Girdwood, AK Trailhead)
  • Lower Iditarod Trail (Girdwood, AK at the Glacier Ranger District trailhead or the Forest Fair Park Trailhead)
  • Girdwood Bike Path (Girdwood, AK starts at the Speedway gas station or the Alyeska Resort and many stops along the way)
  • Byron Glacier Trail (Portage, AK starts near the Begich Boggs Visitor Center)
  • Trail of Blue Ice (Portage, AK starts at Moose Flats Day Use Area or the Begich Boggs Visitor Center)
  • Tonsina Creek Trail (Seward, AK may be the less muddy and snow free, but be prepared for variable weather)
  • Snug Harbor Road Bike Pathway (Cooper Landing, AK begins at the Post Office and goes a couple miles up Snug Harbor Road)
  • Vagt Lake Trail (Moose Pass, AK)
  • Gull Rock (Hope, AK)

So, get out and explore on this National Take a Hike Day and share your adventure with us on Facebook – @KMTANationalHeritageArea, on Instagram @KMTA_Corridor or email your amazing photos to karenlewis@kmtacorridor.org.