Fairbanks offers outdoor adventures
Molly Putman / Layout Editor
While the entire state of Alaska is famous for its wildlife and scenery, right here in Fairbanks there are excellent and accessible hiking and backpacking trails of all lengths. With Granite Tors, Angel Rocks, Chena Dome, and more; the Chena River State Recreation Area alone has a wide selection of trails to travel along.
If you travel north of Fox there are many trails in the White Mountains National Recreation Area, with 15 public use cabins that can be reserved ahead of time. Wickersham Dome and Summit Trail also offer access to excellent day and overnight hikes.
There are options for studentswithout reliable transportation, as the UAF Trail system is home to more than 25 miles of multipurpose trails. The UAF Department of Recreation, Adventure, and Wellness (DRAW) provides a variety of resources to students, including equipment rentals and guided trips. Tents, backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and trekking poles are some of the equipment the DRAW offers for rent.
Although hiking can be a rewarding and healthy pastime, Fairbanks weather can turn ugly and Alaskan wildlife can pose a threat to hikers. The State of Alaska Division of Parks and Recreation recommends packing insect repellent and plenty of water as well as carrying warm clothes and rain gear regardless of what the weather may be when you leave. It is also important to wear suitable footwear and let someone know what time you plan to return from your trip and where you are going, as well as to make plenty of noise to deter bears.
Angel Rocks Trail
3.5 miles round trip to the rock outcroppings and back
8.3 miles to Chena Hot Springs Resort.
Located at milepost 48.9 Chena Hot Springs Road
One of the most popular trails in the Chena Hot Springs Recreation area, the 3.5 mile hike to the rocks and back is an excellent day trip. If hikers are looking for a longer trek, they can continue and take the 8.3 mile trail to Chena Hot Springs Resort and luxuriate in hot tubs afterwards. With an elevation gain of about 2,000 feet and over eight miles of path, this trail can be tough so it is good to leave early and pack a lunch and plenty of water if you go the full length. DRAW’s Outdoor Adventures organization is leading a guided trip for this hike on September 5th, 2015. Outdoor Adventures can be contacted at (907) 474-6027 and students can sign up starting September 3, 2015. The price for UAF students is $37 and includes transportation, trip leaders, use of Outdoor Adventures equipment and a pool pass.
15 miles round trip
Located at milepost 39 Chena Hot Springs Road
Like Angel Rocks, the Granite Tors trail provides viewing of massive rock formations, however this trail is more suitable for a two day backpacking trip. The trail has an elevation gain of 2,900 feet, and certain segments can be brutal for out of shape or new hikers. There is a simple cabin shelter located seven miles in when starting on the east trail, which is available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
Chena Dome Trail
30 miles round trip
Located at milepost 50.5 Chena Hot Springs Road
Thirty miles long, with a total elevation gain of 8,300 feet, Chena Dome Trail is a strenuous hike recommended for a two to four day backpacking trip. A sight unique to this trail: a little over eight miles in is the location of military airplane crash from the 1950s. The trail follows tundra ridgetops as it circles the Angel Creek drainage. In bad weather it can become difficult to follow the rock cairns marking the trail, so hikers are encouraged to be cautious as weather can change quickly. The trail is also open to mountain bikes and horses.
Lee’s cabin (Wickersham Creek Trail)
Seven miles to the cabin, 14 miles round trip
Located at milepost 28 on the Elliott Highway
Lee’s cabin is one of the 15 public-use cabins available in the White Mountains National Recreation Area. The trail is uphill on the way to the cabin, but has a gradual elevation change making it one of the easier hikes on this list. Lee’s cabin can sleep six people comfortably. Like the rest of the cabins it comes equipped with bunk beds, a table, benches, cook stove, lantern, fire extinguisher, saw, ax, broom, wood stove and outhouse. The cabin can be reserved through the Bureau of Land Management by going to the the Fairbanks District Office at 1150 University Avenue.
In an earlier version of this article the price for the DRAW Angel Rocks hike was reported incorrectly as $60, it was updated on Sept. 2 2015.