January 09, 09
I thought I’d let you know about a trail Karl Swanson and I skied ( at different times) on Thursday that was really fun. It’s an extension of the trail that goes to Whiskey Slough on the Talkeetna River that was used as an alternative route up the river by Trapper George and others when the river wasn’t frozen solid, or so I’ve been told. A portion of this trail was built in 1981 or 1982 as part of the River/Ridge Trail system . The trail is entirely on public land and is a multi-use trail. It appears that someone is grooming the trail, probably for access to a cabin somewhere up the Talkeetna River.
Start at the parking area at the end of Comsat Rd. and head north on the main trail. After the first half mile or so the trail towards Larsen Creek branches off to the right. Don’t take that, but continue straight on the trail less traveled which dips, climbs, and turns before descending to the bluff overlooking the Talkeetna River, about ¾ mile. Just before you reach the bluff the trail branches and you want to take the right hand branch. In a few yards you’ll be on top of the bluff looking up the Talkeetna River just above the mouth of Whiskey Slough. The trail continues along the top of the bluff above the slough for a while before abruptly descending into and then across the slough. This is a wild and wooly little hill that most people would rather walk down. The trail continues to wind its way through the woods in a generally north to northeasterly direction. Eventually you’ll see an open muskeg down and to your left. The descent to the muskeg is on a narrow, winding, and steep trail that barely makes it between the closely spaced birches . Take off your skis and walk this section, or find a line through the woods! Once down there , the fun continues as the trail goes up and down several small hills that separate two more small ponds. I turned around somewhere after the second pond, but Karl tells me that the Talkeetna River isn’t too far beyond that point. Look for what appears to be a wide section line clearing and you’ll come out to the river shortly thereafter. At this point you’re about ¾ mile upstream of the mouth of Clear Creek. I turned around and skied back to Comsat Rd. Those looking for a more ambitious tour could continue up or down river and figure out a way back to the trailhead.
This is the skiing through-the-woods on narrow trails that we all know and love up here! I used my classic skis and was glad I did! It’s too narrow for skate skiing. The trail was brushy, at times, but tolerable. The views were stunning, and despite the wind howling overhead it’s pretty well protected in the trees. I was out just under two hours and saw no one else, but watch for snow machines and dog mushers (and moose) ! Enjoy!