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29+, Advocacy, Alaska, Bicycle, Cordova, fat bike, Mountain Biking

Trail Talk: McKinley Trail ride

Another day, another trail that needs some TLC. McKinley trail has some of the best potential in the area for a good MTB trail, even as a loop- as it connects with the Pipeline Lakes Trail to the west. Who knows- there could be a possibility to extend the trail up to McKinley peak, or at the very least to the 610′ knob to the NE of the lake. A trail does already extend beyond the McKinley Lake cabin, up to the Historic Lucky Strike Mine- but its mostly a creek and needs some serious attention.

Though not designated as a MTB trail it’s (mostly) rideable, full of really fun sections that are linked by sections needing quite a bit of work. Much of the trail has turned into a narrow & deep rut full of very slippery roots and log waterbars. Pedaling in these sections is difficult or impossible. In it’s current state most wouldn’t consider it suitable for bikes. Though I’ve talked to a couple people about riding it, I have never seen anyone else on a bike while on it. It showcases many examples of why a trail SHOULDN’T be built a certain way in the rainforest. Much of the trail has become a creek, and there standing water (mud) in many places. A good indicator that a trail needs some revamping is when new trails are made. Hikers are blazing new trails to avoid mud pits and bogs as well as slippery stairs and rooty sections like that below.

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That’s one hell of a way to sell one of my favorite trails in this area isn’t it? All that said- a lot of the trail has been hardened with rock and literally TONS of gravel have been brought in to make a solid trail. These sections have good drainage and are a lot of fun to ride. There doesn’t seem to be any good reason why the whole trail isn’t built in this way. It would make for a super great flowy trail. The USFS is currently in the process of replacing the old “corduroy” with bridges and new sections of trail for safety in some areas and to protect the old trail built for mining in the early 1900’s. After one of their first bridges was installed I spoke with the local USFS trail coordinator about how a taller bridge required dismounting the bike and that kinda sucked. In riding yesterday I saw a couple new bridges- slightly wider and low enough to ride over without having to get off the bike to get on the bridge. Well done.

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Relive ‘McKinley Trail’

When the trail was originally built I’m sure the stairs and waterbars worked fine- but it’s time to revisit the techniques used and while that’s happening it seems like a good idea to expand the opportunity for other non-motorized users groups.

I’m curious how many folks out there are riding in Cordova and what trails they think have potential to become a flagship trail for mountain biking in our National Forest. Where do YOU ride in Cordova?

A link to the trail on GaiaGPS can be found HERE.