We had a lot of fun cycling today.
Jim wanted a long bike ride on a nice trail where he could do some fast
pedaling. I wanted a bike path that wasn't too difficult and has great scenery.
Based on our research it appeared that a good option for our first
greenway experience in Anchorage was the 11-mile Tony
Knowles Coastal Trail, which is very popular not only with cyclists but
also runners, walkers, and inline skaters who want a nice paved trail
that isn’t too gnarly and is easily accessible from many locations.
Benches are strategically placed along the Coastal
Trail to encourage folks to relax and
enjoy the views. Here at the north end of the trail
it's fun to watch ships come and go.
In June lots of wild roses are blooming in open areas along the Coastal Trail.
Since the Black Spruce Campground was going to be sprayed for mosquitoes
early this morning folks were advised to either leave from 7:30 to 11 AM
or stay indoors with their windows/doors closed. We chose to leave.
was noticeably more pleasant when we returned after lunch with no pesky
mosquitoes hovering around our door. Some have gotten in when the door
is open and they drive us crazy.
This morning was cool and cloudy. By the time we got done riding the sun
was coming out and it was warming up. Temps got into the low 70s F. by
mid-afternoon and the clouds were gone. It was beautiful all afternoon and evening.
Another pleasant place along the Coastal Trail to
watch the tide, birds, ships, and airplanes
I wish it had been more clear when we were riding this morning. Most of
the pictures I took during my ride show clouds. We had a great time anyway.
The locals are loving the summery weather even more than the visitors, I think.
article explains about the first five
months of the year being several degrees cooler than normal. This week
has finally been warmer. It’s also the warmest Jim and I have had since
we were in Colorado Springs.
We parked the truck at W. Second Ave. and Christensen at a parking meter
in a residential area. The cost there is 75 cents/hour for up to 10
hours, which is much cheaper than the cost at meters a few blocks away
in the downtown area and you aren't limited to two hours.
Jim put in enough money for four hours so I’d have plenty of time to
dawdle and take pictures on the way back to the truck. Our plan was to
go south to Kincaid Park and turn around, for a total of 22-23 miles.
The northern end of the Coastal Trail has views of
the busy port area. The Alaska Range is on the horizon.
The Coastal Trail begins/ends near our parking spot, although there are numerous
access points to the greenway and so many streets in Anchorage have
bike lanes that you could keep going just about forever.
From what we've read and the driving around we’ve done so far in Anchorage, I
would guess there
are more miles of paved and dirt cycling/walking trails in this city per capita
than in any other city in the U.S. They are everywhere – sometimes just
along a street, sometimes hidden away by a creek or through the woods.
I’m totally impressed.
Pretty forested section of the Coastal Trail
between Point Woronzof and Kincaid Park
I don't know the
exact number of miles of bike paths and trails in town but I do know the
whole system is extensive for a city this size. I've seen wide variations
in distance, probably because some publications count only separate
paved greenways, some count bike paths next to or near traffic lanes, some
include dirt trails through parks, and some count all of the above.
Guide to Anchorage brochure
states that Anchorage has over 135 miles of paved multi-use trails and
another 300 miles of unpaved and wilderness trails for hiking, cycling,
horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dog mushing.
I can see why the Coastal Trail is reported to be the most heavily used trail
in town. We loved it.
It runs right along or very close to the coastline of Anchorage from the
west end of Second Ave. to the middle of Kincaid Park, about 11 miles
It passes through
several city parks and the west side of the international airport where
it borders the
One of the
best places to see passenger and cargo planes come and go is at the end
of one of the
runways near this
high point above Cook Inlet -- whales, too! The tall white flowers
are cow parsnip.
At the south end of the Coastal Trail in Kincaid Park you can keep going on the
Raspberry Trail or get off earlier at one of several intersections with
other bike paths, such as the Chester Creek Trail. The north end, where
we parked, connects to a trail along Ship Creek.
Most of the asphalt on the Coastal Trail is smooth this summer, although there are some cracks
heaves. After the winter Anchorage had (record-breaking snow), I'm
surprised the Trail is in such good shape One section looks like it has been recently paved. All of
the Coastal Trail is
fine for either road or mountain bikes.
Along much of the path you can walk or run on a narrow strip of dirt if
you don't want to pound the pavement:
The tide is in and very close to the trail right
here. Point Woronzof is in the distance.
Much of the path is fairly flat but there are some good hills, too.
rode close to the water in Knik Arm (part of Cook Inlet) at the
The trail rises a couple hundred feet above sea level to
Earthquake Park and Point Woronzof, goes down a little bit through six
miles of forest, and then rises higher again at the "end" in Kincaid
The longest hill southbound is going up to the lodge/parking
area at Kincaid Park. It's fun to ride down that hill fast going the
other direction but it has some blind curves and you have to be
careful you don't run into other trail users or large critters like
moose, deer, or bears.
Seriously. This urban
trail is one of the best places in Alaska to see moose and bears!
WESTCHESTER PARK & LAGOON
The Coastal Trail passes by more water than just the shore of Cook
Inlet (which includes Knik Arm at the north end and Turnagain Arm at the
south end). The Trail also goes over several creeks, wet areas, and a lagoon on
sturdy wooden bridges.
The busiest trail
intersection and the most inland water along the Coastal Trail is at its
juncture with the Chester Creek Greenway at Westchester Park.
The Zero Mile Marker
in the next photo marks the beginning
of the Chester Creek Greenway, which winds east through town for 6.5
miles to the northern unit of Russian Jack Springs Park or takes off on
several other spur trails to the north and south:
Before the 1964
earthquake this area was a tidewater estuary where salt water and fresh
water intermingled in a wetland rich with wildlife.
Mother Nature altered
the landscape significantly, with some additional help from mankind to
preserve the biologically diverse environment after the earthquake
rearranged things. Now Chester Creek passes through
scenic dammed Westchester Lagoon, where folks like to fish, watch
domestic and migratory birds,
and just chill out:
When it's not so cloudy there are nice views in the distance to the
Chugach Mountains. They were barely visible this morning when I took
that photo outbound.
So far we've seen
only the end of Westchester Park near the Coastal Trail, where there is a parking
area, kids' playground, and bench with colorful plantings at the
intersection of the two greenways:
This is just one of
many garden areas planted and maintained by the horticultural staff in
the city's Parks & Recreation Dept. One of these days we'll take a
ride on the Chester Creek Greenway and show photos of the other end of
On the other side of
the Coastal Trail at this intersection there is also a nice
salmon viewing area at the lake outlet where Chester Creek continues a
few hundred yards to Cook Inlet:
During the summer salmon are still able to return here to spawn,
courtesy of the ecosystem restoration project.
The Coastal Trail
continues south over the lagoon on a levee and long wooden bridge:
LAGOON TO POINT WORONZOF
As you're going southbound on the Coastal Trail there are several good
views of The Point. I took the next photo from about two miles north:
We rode from fairly open terrain near the inlet at the north end of the
Coastal Trail to a beautiful boreal
forest with small ponds before reaching Earthquake Park a few miles
This lush wet area was my favorite part of the trail and helped me forget about the
long, gradual hill up to the park:
I showed pictures of Earthquake Park in one of yesterday's entries. We
rode a short loop through the park today but still couldn't see
the Alaska Range clearly because of the clouds.
The one-mile section between Earthquake Park and Point Woronzof undulates 100-200
feet above the water through some dense trees, shrubs, wildflowers, and
The next photo shows the highest point of the trail about a quarter mile
north of the park and parking area at Woronzof Point (there's another picture
farther up this page that shows the view from the field with all the cow parsnips
Then the trail drops rather sharply to the entrance to the parking area
at Point Woronzof.
That's the steepest hill on the Coastal Trail going the other direction
(northbound). Thankfully, it's short.
Too many pictures for one page, so keep going to
page 2. That's where the moose photos are, among other things
. . .
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the ultra Lab
© 2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil