Matanuska Greenbelt Trail System
Location: The Matanuska Greenbelt encompasses some outstanding glacial landforms on lands squeezed between Palmer-Wasilla Highway, Glenn Highway, Parks Highway, and Trunk Road.
Type of trail: Non-motorized, dirt single track, double-track, farm fields; most trails have signage; be aware of horses on some trails.
Length: 30+ miles of trails can be looped and combined for varying distance and difficulty.
Trailheads: Crevasse-Moraine Trails from Loma Prieta Road and Palmer-Wasilla Highway (Borough Fee); Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area from Glenn Highway (State-Parks Fee); UAF Experiemental Farm from Trunk Road; Keplar Park (Private-Fee) from Glenn Highway; UAA Mat-Su College from Trunk Road.
Facilities: Water; toilets located at Long Lake TH, Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area TH, Crevasse-Moraine TH; picnic areas at MLSRA, C-M; campsites at MLSRA and Keplar Park (Private); RV camping/parking at MLSRA
Trail notes: Some great cross-country style trails with connectable loops and an ever expanding system of trials, and no worries of bears, only horse-poop! Matanuska-Susitna Borough is responsible for the Crevasse-Moraine area at the north end of the system. This area may change as the landfill migrates to the east, unfortunately (recycle people!!!). Most of the trails are wide groomable ski trails in winter, but Mooseberry Mesa in the southwest corner of that area has rooty single track designed for mountain bikers and foot traffic only and built by volunteers of Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers (VMBaH). Horses are not allowed on this trail for safety reasons and because the soils cannot support them, so enjoy some horse-poop free trails on this section. MSB also manages the Greenbelt Central area (about middle of the map) which is for recreation. New trails have been developed in this area- Bearberry Bluff, Bearbottom, Rootbear, and Fox Trails. University of Alaska Anchorage Matanuska-Susitna College has trails with an Arboretum and beautiful overlooks near their main campus as well as lands along the Long Lake Connector trail – the main north-south corridor in the Matanuska Greenbelt. Horses are not allowed on campus trails. University of Alaska Fairbanks Matanuska Experiment Farm operates as part of the Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station of UAF and actively carries on research on food production and forestry. There may be authorized farm vehicles in the area and occasionally pesticide applications. Matanuska Lakes State Recreation Area (formerly Kepler-Bradley State Recreation Area) under the jurisdiction of State Parks was established in the mid 1980s for the quality fishing in the lakes. It has become equally popular area with a diversity of groups including hikers, bird watchers, mountain bikers, runners, and equestrians. A good variety of cross-country style mountain biking can be found here. Backcountry Bike and Ski leads our group rides from here most Wednesday nights (check Facebook/call us), and the SprocKidz mountain bike program leads from here as well.
Please respect all the private properties in the area as well as other users. Have fun!
Government Peak Recreation Area Mountain Bike Trails
Take Palmer-Fishhook to Edgerton Park about 1.2 miles then make a Right on Mountain Trails Drive.
Started in 2014 and ever expanding, GPRA offers some of the best Mountain biking in the Valley. Currently (June 2016) there are two complete loops (upper and lower) which offer riders a great cross-country experience. The upper loop is fun going both directions with options for hitting large table-top jumps or riding the berms instead. New flow-style is currently being constructed this summer by Ptarmigan Ptrails, with a completion date of July 15. These new trails are rad! Expect bumps to berms, amazing transfers, drops and airs, all with the most amazing views of the valley in a fireweed field. Drop your seats down and rip these trails! Please be mindful of work crews and honor all flagging closing off trails.
These trails are great for winter fat biking and are open only to bicycles! If snow conditions allow, the single track is groomed.
Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers needs volunteers for this amazing project, constant brushing and tread-work is needed! Come be the change you want to see in the Valley: visit www.vmbah.org for more information and learn how you can help! Currently volunteer days are set for Tuesdays 6:30pm, meet at the red VMBAH trailer up at the parking lot by the chalet.
Palmer Bike Park
Completed in summer 2014, this Bike Park park is located within Matanuska River Park. Thanks to the community for all their letters of support, volunteer hours, and help on making this a reality!
The Palmer Bike Park includes beginner to intermediate dirt tracks with rollers, berms, small jumps, and other technical features, as well as skills building features: log rides, rock gardens, teeters, and more! There are also two flow style trails one beginner and one intermediate/advanced with rock gardens, wooden rollers and more.
The park is located towards the back of Matanuska River Park, in the empty gravel lot and connects to the existing and improved single track!! Work will be done for re-routing some of the existing trails that have been washed out or are non sustainable to heavy use. If you are interested in helping improve the Matanuska River Park trail system contact Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers and become a member today!
Visit the Facebook site for more info and to show your support of healthy community development: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Support-a-Palmer-Bike-Park/117776834920032
Gold Mint Trail (Hatcher Pass)
Location: In the Hatcher Pass East Management Area
Type of Trail: Narrow gravel trail (less than 1 mile) to single track, non-motorized, multi-use trail
Length: about 8 miles maintained; trail gets rough at about mile 5, trail can get overgrown starting in June. River onto trail towards the end.
Trailhead: Gold Mint Trailhead located at mile 14 Palmer-Fishhook Road/Hatcher Pass Road, Hatcher Pass East Management Area
Facilities: Water; toilets; picnic areas; campsites. FEE
Trail notes: This is a fun quick out and back ride. The trail climbs moderately the full 8 miles and you can continue on foot for more exploration. Expect rock gardens, overgrown brush along the sides in summer, bears along the river, a few beavers, and excellent vistas. The trail gets slippery after rain and fog so be cautious when descending. This is a heavily used trail for the first 4 miles during the summer tourist season, expect to see travel groups, horses, backpackers, and families out to enjoy the trail. The first half mile or so is an ADA approved trail with a wide gravel path, moderate inclines and a nice wooden bridge across a creek. The trail eventually becomes more narrow with natural surface at about 1 mile in and follows the river. Elevation gain is very gradual (1%-5%) and steady throughout the ride. Starting at about mile 2 you are witness to an incredible network of beaver dams & ponds all the way up to about mile 6.5 . The farther you ride up this trail the less traveled and more challenging it becomes, there are a few water hazards and a few hike-a-bike spots around large rocks, etc. All in all some great Alaskan singletrack. Wildflowers are very abundant at the right times of year and you can hear numerous ground squirrels and marmots whistling at you as you ride by. Make sure to shout for bears, but if you enjoy a fast downhill ride back to the car, then hooting shouldn’t be a problem! Be aware that this trail gets overgrown starting in June, we recommend early or late season riding. Enjoy and make sure to pay for parking to keep Hatcher Pass awesome.
16-mile Downhill Trail (Hatcher Pass)
Location: In the Hatcher Pass Management Area
What to expect: The “16-mile Trail” is built along the existing 16-mile ski and snowboard area at Hatcher Pass. What you can expect are 2.5 miles of rolling downhill, shuttle/truck accessed, awesomeness. Berms, tables, and some awesome views are expected along this downhill trail. Wear your full face helmet, pads, and bring your full-suspension bike. There are gaps on the jumps, loose rocks, a few creek crossings, and pocket berms. Pre-ride, re-ride, and rage!
Getting there: Drive to mile 16 on Hatcher Pass Road to the pull out on the left. Drop off the riding crew, then drive back down to the lower parking lot (about mile 12 or so) and pick up the crew for another lap.
Facilities: There are no facilities at either parking area, please take your trash with you!
Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail
Location: North of downtown Palmer off Eagle Street
Type of Trail: Easy trail with gravel, rock surface, and dirt; 4-8′ wide, narrower as you approach Moose Creek; expect rock washouts but they are hike-a-bike-able.
Length: 6.1 miles one way (trail has decomposed greatly over the years of washouts)
Trailhead: You can access this trail from downtown Palmer. There is a rough singletrack that starts behind Napa Auto Parts off East Arctic heading North. You can park streetside at the new parking spots off North Valley Way on the North side of town. You can park across from Backcountry Bike and Ski if you want and enter the trail from behind Napa 2 blocks down Arctic Ave.
Facilities: None but close to downtown Palmer shops and restaurants, and Backcountry Bike & Ski
Trail notes: The Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail is a year round non-motorized trail following an old railroad bed located adjacent to the Matanuska River between Palmer and Moose Creek. The trail is mostly level, the first half passing beneath towering bluffs on the north side of the river. Travel can sometimes be difficult as pebbles stumble down large embankments. The trail has been washed out in recent years due to land slides and has had to be repaired several times. Expect to carry your bike over a few wash outs. The second half of the trail (from the Palmer side) is more stable and fun, passing through large stands of cottonwood, birch and spruce. The trail provides views of the Matanuska River and the Chugach Mountain range to the south. The railroad bed once continued all the way to Chickaloon, but was washed out near Moose Creek. This is a great quick trip if you’re looking for a short ride and some fresh air.
Matanuska River Park Trail System
Location: Palmer, Mile 17 Old Glenn Highway
Type of trail: Mostly dirt single track, some gravel roads for access; easy to moderate; Palmer Bike Park located at the North Side of the park, at the bottom gravel lot.
Length: A few miles of trails which can be combined and looped together for longer rides
Trailheads: Matanuska River Park (Fee)
Facilities: Toilets, water, picnic sites, campsites, RV parking/camping, park, playground, and fields
Trail notes: The trails connect the campground, day use area and athletic fields to the riverside. Most of the trail network traverses gentle terrain through an old growth forest of cottonwood, birch and spruce. In spring some areas near bogs and lakes can be muddy. Expect some small steep areas, roots, and narrow single track along the river bluff. This park is a busy place in summer so expect to see hikers, campers, and their dogs and children along the trail system. The trails also provide access to the river, where one can wander along the gravel bars and enjoy the views of the Matanuska River valley and the Chugach Mountain range to the east. You can connect this trail system to the north through some fields, down Eagle Street and onto the Railroad trail heading north.
Morgan Horse Trail
Location: Between Lazy Mountain Trailhead at the top of Huntley Road (Right from Clark-Wolverine at the “T”) and Morgan Horse Trail Trailhead off the top of Maud Road to the left. Both can be accessed from the Old Glenn Highway east of Palmer.
Type of Trail: Multi-use, non-motorized natural surface trail ranging from 2′-6′ wide
Length: 2 miles one-way
Trailheads: The Morgan Horse Trail can be accessed in three locations, from the Lazy Mountain recreation area, from the east end of Smith Road (Matanuska Peak Trailhead), or from the east end of Maud Road (Plumley-Maud Trailhead). Lazy Mountain Recreation area: take Old Glenn Highway from Palmer towards Butte, left on Clark-Wolverine, right at the “T” onto Huntley, follow the road as it vears right to end at the parking lot. Smith Road (Matanuska Peak Trailhead): take Old Glenn Highway from Palmer towards Butte, left on Smith Road, follow to the end of the road at the parking lot. Maud Road Trailhead: take Old Glenn Highway from Palmer towards Butte, left on Maud Road follow for 1 1/2 miles. There is no parking where the Morgan Horse trail intersects Maud Road; however trail users may park at the end of Maud Road, approximately 1/4 mile further up the road where pavement ends.
Facilities: Toilets at Matanuska Peak Trailhead and Lazy Mountain Trailhead
Trail notes: From the Lazy Mountain Trailhead the trail travels southeast through the recreation area, once it leaves the Lazy Mountain recreation area it follows a section line easement going due south to Maud Road. The area is forested with large cottonwood, white spruce and birch. The trail passes close by residential areas, so please respect private property. This trail is an easy and quick mountain bike ride that can be muddy in the spring or during heavy rains. Occationally ATVers will illegally access the trail, making it even more messy with large ruts and mud holes. Moose are more common than bears, but be alert for both.
Butte to Palmer Bike Path
Location: Old Glenn Highway between E Plumley Road in Butte to downtown Palmer
Type of Trail: Easy, low grade, paved, non-motorized wide bike path. Be aware of loose gravel and river rock on trail from ATV use.
Length: about 6 miles
Trailhead: Park in downtown Palmer or at Matanuska-River Park to start from the Palmer side. Park at the Bodenburg Butte trailhead off Bodenburg Loop Road to access from the Butte side. You can always park in the gravel lot across from Backcountry Bike and Ski to allow for a longer ride.
Facilities: None; close to downtown Palmer, shops and restaurants
Website: None available, come into the shop for details
Trail notes: Start from the shop! This is a nice easy ride from Palmer to Butte and back (or vise-versa). You can combine this ride with a longer road ride past Knik River Bridge, left onto Knik River Road, or loop around Bodenburg Butte and head back to Palmer. This path is used by bike commuters, families out for a walk with their kids and dogs, and other users. Be aware of other users, let them know you are approaching and pass on the left. If you are visiting Palmer during the summer, this ride is a good option to get out in some fresh air and enjoy the midnight sun. The bike path goes under the Old Glenn Highway Bridge on either side so be aware of broken glass and puddles in this section.
Wilson Park Bike Pump Track
The Wilson Park Pump Track was completed summer 2014 and is ready for kids and adults to enjoy. There is limited parking as this is a neighborhood park in the Brittany Estates subdivision. From the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, turn south on Felton Street, Park is on the right side corner of the next intersection, there is a kiosk and it is fenced in.
The Wilson Park is known as a pocket park. We are excited that this is one of the few of this caliber being developed for kids and adults alike.
Kenai Peninsula Trails
Looking for an adventure? Backcountry Bikes likes to head down to the Kenai for some epic trail riding in our beautiful wildlands.
Some recommended trails include:
- Crescent Lake Trail (out and back); 18.5 miles
- Devil’s Pass Trail (out and back or connect this trail to the Resurrection Trail & head Left towards Cooper Landing or Right towards Hope); 20 miles
- Johnson Pass (out and back or traverse); 23 miles
- Gull Rock Trail (out and back); 10.2 miles
- Lost Lake Trail (long traverse or out and back); 15 miles
- Resurrection Pass Trail System (recommended through from Cooper Landing to Hope or connect to Devil’s Pass Trail); 38.5 miles
- Russian Lake Trail (recommended- Upper Russian River Trail traverse); 21.5 miles
Anchorage Mountain Biking
Be sure to check out Kincaid Park Trails with miles of new biking specific trails. Please follow one way signs (note what day you are biking on -even or -odd?)
Hilltop Ski Area has some fun and challenging singletrack to explore.
Looking for something more mellow for the whole family? Try cruising from downtown Anchorage to the Coastal Trail and enjoy some beautiful ocean side views.
Safe Road Routes
There are many miles of long stretches of roads in Alaska. Stop in the shop to see our large map of typical routes our roadies choose for a variety of ride lengths. Be aware, as you ride in Alaska, that large trucks and many cars are not yet all aware of bikers (nor care to be aware of bikers). Bike defensively. Wear bright clothing, reflectors, lights, and your helmet! Early season there is usually gravel and debris on the sides of roads left over from winter, bring tire repair! Be cautious of turning vehicles and obey all rules of the road (riding WITH traffic), street signs, even speed limits (especially coming down Hatcher Pass Road from the mine, State Parks will ticket you as you blaze down the long downhill road out from the Pass… you know who you are ).