Denali AKA Mt. McKinley


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"Valdez boasts some of the most scenic and historic trails in Alaska,  
ranging from various lengths and difficulty levels."
~ 2015 Valdez Vacation Guide
One of the first things we did on Day One in Valdez was to check on trail conditions at the Forest Service cabin along the Richardson Hwy. and the visitors' center in town.

Many of the local trails were under either snow or water from snowmelt when we were here about the same time in 2012. That was after Southcentral Alaska's worst winter in the last 60 years. What a difference this time -- the winter of 2014-5 had the least snow in the last 60+ years.

Chugach National Forest Service information center near Valdez

However, because of unseasonably warm spring temperatures, the streams and lakes are full of water from additional melting of glacial ice. Although the Shoup Bay Trail to Gold Creek is mostly a mess along the Port of Valdez, the other trails are passable.

This three-page entry covers hikes and bike rides we did at Dock Point Park, Mineral Creek, a bayside trail from Homestead Rd., the bike path along Richardson Hwy. north of Airport Rd., and the John Hunter Memorial Trail that goes up to Solomon Lake.


Dock Point is a long, narrow peninsula just east of the small boat harbor in Valdez:

Map from City of Valdez Parks & Rec website

It is 95% surrounded by sea water in Harbor Cove, the Port of Valdez, and the Duck Flat marshlands, which fill with water at high tide.

Most of the peninsula is a public park, with some private property at the far east end. A hilly, one-mile loop trail through forested terrain, a meadow, and the northern shoreline provides excellent views of the surrounding mountains, islands, marshes, and water:

Nearing the high point

Boardwalks protect sensitive and/or wet sections of the trail

View across bay to mountains north of Valdez

Descent to the shoreline trail

Here's a bird's-eye view of the work being done on the new boat harbor from one of the overlooks on Dock Point:

Looking down on the work being done on the new boat harbor

If you don't want to climb up and down to the overlooks you can hike or cycle on a wide, flat, half-mile section of the trail along the marsh side of the peninsula.

The day I hiked the trail with the dogs the tide was rather high. In my opinion the marsh side of the park, where the trail is close to the water, is much prettier at high tide than when it's lower and the mud flats are exposed:



The contrast is interesting, though, and there are more birds out feeding when the tide is low. I took these photos another day during a bike ride on the lower trail when the tide was out:



In the previous entry I showed a few pictures of this paved path along the three miles of the Richardson Hwy. west from Airport Rd. to town.

The bike path also extends another three miles east to the intersection with Dayville Rd. I like this part because it's farther from the highway and beyond the route used by the trucks hauling dirt to town for the new harbor.

This section is interesting because it crosses the braided streams coming down from several glaciers, including Valdez Glacier, and it has scenic views of Mt. Francis:







The next two photos are looking across the highway toward Mt. Francis' peaks and glaciers:


The next two pictures show views on this section closer to Airport Road, going back toward Valdez:


Jim rode this part of the path several times, including a 45-mile round trip to the base of the ascent to Thompson Pass. After the bike path ended at Dayville Rd. he had to ride on the highway shoulder.

One day when we rode this direction the path was partially flooded in two areas from snowmelt near the glacial creeks but we were able to ride through the water:

Continued on the next pagetrails up and down Mineral Creek

Happy trails,

"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil