Proposed Facilities and Ammenities
Projects for 2000-2001
"I love the paths and trails! I really, really appreciate them!"
Projects for 2000-2001
Complete the lighting of the Potato Field by stringing the lights and placing them (this has all approvals and is ready to go).
Place vehicle barriers (gates or posts). This is paid for by a TRAAK Grant. One barrier was built last fall, the rest are scheduled for the summer, 2000 (see map link to Proposed Physical Changes below).
Place wood chips along the southeast shore of Smith Lake (the lower 15 feet of the trail and 20 along the shore).
Place chips and/or boardwalks in the low, wet areas of the Six-Mile Trail (see map link below ).
Rebuild the T-field road at it's lowest point near Smith Lake (see map link below ).
Paint the Warming Hut inside and out, fix the doors, install a trash can,broom, waxing table and benches in it, and add more lights to the inside. The one mercury light currently inside is a cold color, if possible, incandescent lights on timers should be added to make the room appear warmer. There were several complaints on the web survey that the hut is too cold. The temperature inside is maintained just above freezing, and while it does not need to be room temperature, increasing the temperature to around 40 F would be more comfortable.
Trailhead Kiosks. Paint the kiosk at West Ridge with new paint and add a poster showing allowed uses and colored maps. Include information on joining the Friends of University Trails . Include the "Zamboni of the Ski Trails" discussion from this plan and maps where dogs, walkers and joggers ARE allowed in winter. Post info about the Wood Center ski and snowshoe rentals and the free noon skiing lessons offered by Susan Sugai and Don Pendergrast.
Post the parking rules for visitors: Let visitors know that parking decals are not enforced after 5 or on weekends on West Ridge. Visitors may also parallel park along the streets any time. Place a sign about this near the path to Smith Lake to discourage people from parking there.
Build 3 similar kiosks with the same information at Ballaine Lake, at Sheep Creek Road near the Whizzy Loop, and at the new Main Campus Trailhead opposite Wickersham Hall.
Trail Name Signs
Painted signs made of wood with routered letters will be used to indicate the names of the main trails at trail intersections. Level of difficulty will also be indicated, to help those unfamiliar with the trails.
Trail Intersection Signs
Place signs at major trail intersections and at Ballaine Lake with names of trails and a Plexiglas-covered map of the trail system showing "you are here" (see diagram below). The trails would be color-coded on the map to indicate where it is okay to snowshoe, walk, run, and/or walk dogs, etc. and where it is not okay to do so. Summer uses are so much more compatible that it probably would not be necessary to have a second map for summer uses, just prohibited use signs at each major trail access point.
Proposed Sign for Trail Intersections: A map covered with Plexiglas.
One-way Trail Signs
The entry of each one-way trail will have a smaller version (roughly six inches wide so that it is not too intrusive) of the familiar sign indicating the proper direction. The Whizzy Loop, Calypso loop, and the Midnight Express are fast and narrow and require these signs. Six-inch "wrong way" signs just like those on one-way streets will be placed at the exit of each one-way trail (the Whizzy Loop, Calypso loop, and the Midnight Express).
The Skarland Six-Mile Groomed Trail is fairly flat and would not require strictly one-way access. An arrow with "Suggested Direction" will be adequate.
Projects for 2002-2005 Light the T-field Road
There is only 0.5 km of lighted trail now, with an additional 0.3 km once the Potato Field lighting is finished. One more lighting project would satisfy the need for more lighting while preserving the rest of the area in a more natural state for those who prefer that [Note: this plan places the Arboretum off-limits to lighted trails]. Lights are on an automatic timer set to go off at 10 pm to avoid undue light pollution and electricity consumption.
The lights for the Potato Field were funded by a donation from Jim Whisenhant and it is assumed that the capital costs of additional trail lighting would also come from donations or grants.
This plan recommends that the next priority for lights should be the trail to the T-field. By following the adjacent powerline, no poles would be needed along the road. Poles would still be needed around the perimeter of the field. The skate-ski trail could be moved next to the power poles, leaving the existing road for pedestrians.
Study Miller Hill Trailhead and Parking
A trailhead off Sheep Creek Road ranked in the middle of the facilities results of the Trails Survey. Cars frequently line up on the narrow shoulder near Smith Lake where there is a small trail to the lake. Being flat, the lake is a good place to start a ski trip, particularly for beginners. The Ballaine Lake trailhead is very popular and many users would like to see a similar trailhead on the west side. Also, if the Junior Nordics children's program at Birch Hill continues to grow, they will need a new area for lessons.
The idea of a Smith Lake Trailhead was proposed many years ago by Jim Whisenhant, a member of the UAF ski team in the 1950s and no doubt the one who has done more for skiing around Fairbanks than any other single individual.
But due to the high value of Smith Lake and the surrounding marsh for waterfowl and other wildlife, we do not recommend putting a parking area and trailhead near the lake.
Instead, we recommend further study of a site just north of Sheep Creek Road along Miller Hill Road. This site would be in the Arboretum and would require the approval of the Arboretum Committee. Overall, it seems this site can meet the same needs as the Smith Lake site without as much environmental impact.
Locate Permanent Home for Main Trailhead
The main trailhead at UAF is still looking for a permanent home. Since the new IARC Building was completed, the trailhead on West Ridge seems isolated and inconvenient. In the long run, we need to locate a final home for the trailhead that hopefully will not require relocation.
The site proposed for the new main trail head is located near the northwest corner of the Geophysics Parking Lot, where there are well over 100 parking spaces open after 5 pm and on weekends. The trail is also wide and flat at the site and there is room to locate a warming hut to the south of the trail.
Install Interpretive Signs
Natural history signs at key points would be helpful in meeting the educational goal of the trails. The intent is to keep signs to a minimum, but signs at the sites listed below would enrich the educational value of the trails.
- The thermokarst in Potato Field and Bicycle Bumps
- Smith Lake bird and animal life
- Examples of Boreal Forest ecosystems
- The tree plantation at the top of the T-field
- Plants along the Calypso Orchid Trail (these signs are already in place)
These might be funded in cooperation with the Museum, which is working on a Boreal Forest Ecosystem curriculum and will be leading nature walks on the trail system. Signs must be of high quality, such as those at Creamers Field. Poor quality signs are worse than none.