Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hillside Singletrack Trail Proposal

(Click for larger map)

Since August of 2004, Singletrack Advocates has worked with other user groups of Far North Bicentennial Park to solve user conflicts spurred by a growing demand for park resources. Singletrack Advocates has partnered with Alaska Trails, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. The mission of Alaska Trails is to support sustainable, world-renowned trails through funding, facilitation and education.

With technical assistance from the National Park Service-Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance Program, Alaska Trails and Singletrack Advocates propose to plan, design and construct Anchorage's first system of soft-surface, narrow trails sustainably-built for mountain bikes and foot traffic to meet the needs of users who enjoy the recreation opportunities provided by trails that retain more of the natural characteristics of the landscape. The areas under consideration are in the northeastern and southeastern areas of Far North Bicentennial Park (FNBP). The secondary goal of this project is to improve local and statewide singletrack trail building capacity by training in-state, mini-mechanized equipment operators and volunteers skilled in finish work. By increasing the number of local trail experts, Alaskans will enjoy the long-term benefits of trails designed for sustainability: lasting for decades, minimizing ongoing maintenance, enhancing the user experience.

Project Location: Far North Bicentennial Park is Anchorage’s largest park, providing year-round outdoor recreation opportunities for the entire community. The park has over 1 million visitors each year, contributing to the social, economic and ecological well being of Anchorage. As funds become available, the project will focus on the following areas in sequence:

• Southern Block (shaded in blue, approximately 206 acres) bordered by Lodge Pole Court to the south, the Gasline to the west, Hilltop Ski Area and the Spencer Loop Ski Trail to the north and northwest.
• Southern Strip (shaded in yellow, approximately 133 acres) bordered by Campbell Airstrip Road and Campbell Creek.
• Northeastern Triangle (pink area, approximately 165 acres) bordered by the Gas Line to the northwest, the Stuckagain Heights neighborhood to the east, and Campbell Airstrip Road to the south.
• The green area lies within Chugach State Park. No trail proposals have been developed for this area at this time.

Project Description: The trails will be built to meet sustainability standards such as those described by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). Initially, the trail corridor would be approximately 4 ft wide (the width of the equipment) but would be expected to have a tread width of 18 - 24 inches wide when completed. The trails would be loops wherever possible and take advantage of natural landscape features to provide variation to the trail users. Hardening of the trail using off-site material would only occur when necessary to protect sensitive site characteristics or to make the trail sustainable. Effort will be made to reduce visibility between loops, but also to use terrain features to slow the speed of mountain bikers on limited visibility corners to accommodate both hikers and bikers. The trails would support 2-way traffic though users encountering those from the opposite direction will require someone yielding the trail.

The proposed areas are appropriate for singletrack because:
1. there are many terrain features suitable to mountain biking;
2. the project area is on a hillside which would allow for proper drainage and
3. the area is not heavily utilized by the other user groups. The exception is the western portion of the pink triangle—the Arctic Orienteering Club occasionally uses this area for competition; they would prefer that no new trails be constructed in this area and that existing trails remain in their current state. Effort will be made to accommodate the orienteerers’ concerns.

Singletrack Advocates and Alaska Trails are the lead organizations of Hillside Singletrack Trails Project. Concept approval has been given by the Municipality of Anchorage, Parks & Recreation Division. Singletrack Advocates and Alaska Trails will secure all funding for the project, manage all phases, administer the grant, provide grant reporting, secure professional contractors, and supervise planning, design and construction. The project administrator is Jack Mosby of Alaska Trails. The project manager is Janice Tower of Singletrack Advocates. A trail builder with equipment will be hired. Troy Duffin of Alpine Trails, LLC will consult and train equipment operators.

Currently the project is undergoing extensive review by multiple public agencies to identify environmental impacts, if any, on wetlands, cultural and historical sites, fish and wildlife, natural resources, etc. An information session will be held at the Municipality of Anchorage Parks and Recreation Commission meeting on Thursday, July 12th at 6:00 p.m. at the Spenard Recreation Center.

For more information please contact