Anchorage’s Parks and Recreation Department has completed several sections of single track trail in the Chester Creek park system, and the results are impressive. The trail has outstanding rollers and banked turns, turning relatively flat areas into entertaining mountain biking that’s still accessible for kids and new riders.
There are several sections of trail, which taken together provide a single track corridor from Downtown to APU. One of the larger sections of single track is at Valley of the Moon. Pick up the trail at the intersection of E St and 16th Ave, and ride downhill toward Chester Creek Trail. Another longish section of trail parallels Chester Creek in between A St and Seward Highway, with one portion of trail on the north side of the creek and the other on the south. This is one of the more scenic sections of the creek and the trail system, especially since municipal staff have succeeded in eliminating what were previously high-density encampments right next to the trail and creek. There are shorter sections of Chester Creek single track near Eastchester Park just east of Seward Highway, and adjacent to Airport Heights and Tikishla Park just east of Lake Otis Boulevard.
The purpose of these singletrack trails was to provide downtown mountain biking destinations for families and beginner cyclists, and to encourage cyclists to ride out to more extensive trails at APU and Far North rather than drive. New Chester Creek trails achieve those goals. It’s amazing how many kids, families, and adults I’ve seen riding the trails this summer, even before they were completed. When I was growing up, there weren’t any quality bikes for kids to ride. Now, even pre-schoolers can get out and ride on balance bikes, and there are high-quality mountain bikes and fat bikes for a wide age range of youth. Chester Creek trails are great for all the families who live in Downtown, Fairview, Airport Heights, North Star, South Addition, and Rogers Park neighborhoods. They are a good complement to the steep, challenging new singletrack that opened on the Hillside this summer.
Until recently, Anchorage had extremely limited mountain bike and snow biking options, primarily consisting of intermediate difficulty trails on the Hillside and at Kincaid. With challenging new single track on the Hillside, and beginner trails in Chester Creek, the municipality is linking trail networks and providing trails for all ages and skill levels. Expansion of these trails is a result of volunteers, including through Single Track Advocates, and strong support from the Mayor, Assembly, and great Parks and Recreation Department staff.
What’s next? I’d like to see the city build pump tracks or skills parks near Downtown and in South Anchorage, to continue expanding options for kids to bike. We also need to continue tying together our trail networks. For example, there could be opportunities to add singletrack paralleling the Coastal Trail, and additional trail segments in the Chester Creek corridor including Tikishla Park. Few cities have such extensive, linear urban parklands as Anchorage. Let’s take advantage of them to make the city an even better place to live.