Trails to Build and Trails to Widen
"Mostly, be careful to not make too many paths...be careful to leave lots of woods!"
Over the next two years, this plan recommends finishing the Midnight Express Loop, brushing a Commuter Trail north of the farm, widening the Base Line Trail and a Pooch Loop, and linking the Museum to the Calypso Nature Trail and the Botanical Gardens with attractive signs.
Within the next 3 years, a multipurpose trail to main campus should be constructed.
Over the next 5 years, this plan recommends encircling the campus with bike paths. (See Map)
A. Trails to Build
In keeping with the goal of minimal change to the rustic, rural character of the north campus trails, only a few trail construction projects are recommended. First, bike paths should encircle the entire campus. At the current time there are only short stretches of bike paths on the west and east of campus, but narrow shoulders along Yankovitch, Miller Hill, West Tanana Drive and Tanana Loop south of Butrovitch make these high priorities for new paths.
1. Multipurpose Trail to Main Campus (over the next 3 years or less)
One of the goals of this plan is to have "trails return to their former prominence as a vital lifeline linking the heart of campus to the community beyond with a minimum of road crossings." Many students said they would use the trails much more if they could access them more easily.
A Multipurpose trail from West Ridge to Main Campus will go a long way toward meeting this goal (see map above). Although the land is steep here, the trail could be built into the hillside and it will likely be very popular. This trail should be added as soon as possible.
2. Encircle the campus with bike paths (over the next 5 years).
There is a bike path along Farmers Loop, one on the south side of Geist, and one down part of Sheep Creek Road. Such paths are multiple use and can be used by walkers, bikers, dog owners, skijorers, and commuters.
A major goal of this plan is to encircle the entire campus by completing the "missing links" in the bike path. It will seek to build them along the campus side of Geist, the Parks Highway, Sheep Creek Road, Miller Hill Road, and Yankovitch Road. (see map above)
In addition, a multiple-use trail is sorely needed along West Tanana Drive south of the Farm. This is heavily used and a safety hazard as there is little separation from vehicle traffic going around a blind corner. Because the road is so narrow there, the bike path will need to be routed along the Commuter Route north of the farm for the time being. If/when the road is rebuilt, a bike path must be included alongside it.
DOT will be building the Loftus Walk/Run/Bike Path when the Loftus Extension is constructed.
Another heavily used route extends along Tanana Loop from the Student Recreation Center to Butrovitch. There is no separation between the pedestrians/joggers/bikers and vehicle traffic.
Several bikers mentioned that Tanana Loop south of Patty Center east to its intersection with Yukon Drive is dangerous, as is Yukon Drive itself. The sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians, so bikes are a hazard there, but the road is too narrow to safely ride on the shoulder. This plan recommends designating a bike path along the side of Tanana Loop and Yukon Drive so that bikers have a designated place to ride and motorists are alerted with signs and road markings to indicate the presence of bikes.
The map designates some bike paths as higher priority than others.
3. Build a lighted culvert under Tanana Loop(a long-term project).
In order to reclaim the former link the trails had to main campus, this plan recommends a culvert under Tanana Loop south of Butrovitch so that trail users (of ALL types; not just skiers) do not need to cross the traffic to reach the trails. The civil engineering students on campus could possibly design it and there is grant money available to build bridges where roads have cut off a section of trail. Clearly this would require study, but links to main campus are needed to once again integrate the trails with the heart of campus.
B. Trails to Finish or Widen
1. Clear a Multiple Use/Commuter Trail north of the Farm
(By winter 2001) Brush out a connecting trail from Sheep Creek Road to West Ridge along the drainage ditch north of the farm and south of the Calypso Orchid Trail. Currently walkers and bikers are using the Equinox Trail that follows the ditch, but it crosses the Whizzy Trail in at least two places. A short access route is all that is needed from Sheep Creek to the Equinox Trail to help commuters avoid crossing the Whizzy Loop. The Trail groomer could pass over this route occasionally with just the snowmachine to keep it packed down and easy to travel in the winter (see map above)
2. Finish the Midnight Express Ski Loop
(Summer 2000) This will be a fun trail with lots of turns and ups and downs and is likely to be as popular, though not as challenging, as the roller coaster at Birch Hill. It is more than half finished and only requires smoothing to finish. The Nordic Ski Club and Beaver Sports have offered to pay for it. Part of the trail is in a wetland, but the Corps of Engineers issued a permit for its construction. Given the level of controversy over any new trails, this may be the last new skating trail ever built on campus. The only challenging terrain left on campus is in the Arboretum and a trail wide enough for skate skiing in that area would be extremely controversial. Therefore, this plan recommends finishing the Midnight Express by completing the bulldozing this summer and making the trail ready for skiing by October, 2000. The Nordic Ski Club has offered to pay for the work.
3. Widen the Base Line Trail and Groom for Diagonal Skiing.
(Summer 2000) Many people have asked that we widen this old trail so that it is just wide enough to groom for diagonal skiing. It makes a nice "Lunch Loop" for those near the Natural Sciences Building.
4. Link the Museum to the Calypso Nature Trail and the Botanical Gardens with signs.
(Summer 2001) Several museum employees have asked for signs to direct tourists who want to walk from the Museum to the Botanical Gardens. A new trail is not needed, but distinct signs that can be easily followed along S. Koyukuk Drive would be helpful. Prepare a unique sign for the Nature Trail and Botanical Gardens (possibly using the Gardens' logo) and post them along the sidewalk from the the Museum to the IARC building, continuing through the woods to the Calypso Nature Trail then south to the Botanical Gardens.
5. Mark a separated winter pedestrian trail next to the T-field Road & across Smith Lake
This trail would be under the powerline most of the way, but there are places where the powerline is next to the ski trail. In those areas, a snow fence will be used to separate the pedestrian and ski trails.
6. Widen the loop to the Rifle Range and link it to the road east of the Bio Reserve for dogs and pedestrians
(Summer 2000) Dubbed "the Pooch Loop," this trail requires brushing, but it will make a nice loop for pedestrians and dog-walkers in the winter. It follows old routes that are still visible in aerial photos and it has been used the past few winters by a few dog walkers. It may include part of the old Chena Road that went from the Chena Pump House to Fox at the turn of the century.
C. Do NOT build trails in the Arboretum
This plan recommends maintaining the pristine nature of the Arboretum. No new trails and no trail lighting will be constructed in the Arboretum. The narrow trails with roots exposed give a rustic feel to these paths which is part of their charm. Only minimal widening and brushing will be performed in this area in order to maintain the untamed appeal of the Arboretum.
D. How and where would UAF trails be connected to trails off campus?
Audun Endestad demonstrated that it is possible to ski from UAF to Tolovana Hot Springs, then over to Chena Hot Springs, Birch Hill, and back to UAF. Many other routes also exist along Chena Ridge, through Goldstream Valley, and out Goldhill Road toward Ester. Simply mapping and marking the trails would make it possible for less intrepid souls to do the same (though it may take a bit longer).
Good maps of all these systems at the same scale would be a major step toward officially linking the many trail systems around Fairbanks. Appoint a subcommittee by summer 2000 to begin work on "joint" maps of the trail systems and on signs linking the trails.
By summer 2001, post maps and signs indicating connections to Jeff Studdert Trails, the Equinox Trail, the Skarland trails (north of Yankovich) and the Geist bike path.
Cooperate in building a trailhead for the Jeff Studdert trails off Farmers Loop opposite North Tanana Drive. Post a map at Ballaine Lake showing the entrance to the Studdert Trails off Army Road.
Assist in linking UAF to Birch Hill. Work with other community groups to link UAF to Birch Hill via the Jeff Studdert trails north of College Road.
Assist in linking UAF to the Rosie Creek/Chena Ridge trail system and the Goldhill Road trail system by marking the trail.