A cyclist pauses along the trail at Southcentral Alaska’s Lower Russian Lake.

Two-Wheel Touring in Southcentral Alaska

In a land where urban intrigue and iconic wilderness are linked by a network of trails, why watch from a window? Hop on a bike and become a part of scene.

The potential for close encounters with Alaska’s wildlife keep cyclists on their toes.
A floatplane lands on at Anchorage’s Lake Hood on a cool fall evening. Vermiculated with bike trails, this part of the city is popular among cyclists.

SEEING THE CITY

Verdant in summer, golden in the fall, Alaska’s biggest city is marbled with greenbelts and parks, many tied together by more than 120 miles of paved bike trails. A local favorite is the 11-mile-long Tony Knowles Coastal Trail that begins downtown and traces Cook Inlet’s coastline past Westchester Lagoon (a popular venue for birders), Earthquake Park (commemorating the site of a neighborhood lost in Alaska’s great 1964 earthquake), and on to the 1,500-acre forests and singletracks of Kincaid Park near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

A Tour Too Far? Take a Bus

If 22-mile round-trip bike tour sounds too far, Downtown Bike Rental, Inc., located in Anchorage on 4thAvenue between C and D streets, suggests a solution to cut it in half: The city’s PeopleMover bus system.

Other City Trail Options

No matter where in Anchorage you may be, a paved bike path isn’t far away. Choices beyond the Coastal Trail include the five-mile-long Chester Creek Trailrunning east from Weschester Lagoon near downtown to the University of Alaska campus in midtown. From there, cyclists can link onto the Campbell Creek Trail to south Anchorage on a course that generaly traverses greenbelts along the creek to C Street and beyond. The bike path along C Street offers a straight shot back to downtown — but use caution, as this trail includes many busy street crossings.

Kincaid Park in the springtime: Watch out for moose and enjoy the ride!

ROUGH RIDING: CITY SINGLETRACKS

On the paved trails when the going is best, the weather dry and temperatures pleasant, it’s possible to pedal along a flat or downhill stretch, wind in your ears, sun on your face, and feel as if you’re soaring. Flying past flower gardens, forests, streams and neighborhoods, encountering others happily biking or walking, is a wonderful way to see the city and its outskirts.

Rover’s Run in Anchorage’s Far North Bicentennial Park is an awesome single track best left to the bears when salmon are run in Campbell Creek.

City Wilderness: Far North Bicentennial Park

Kincaid Park’s singletracks aren’t the only game in town. Anchorage’s east side delivers fantastic riding in 4,000-acre Far North Bicentennial Park. Popular for its more than 100 miles of singletracks and multi-use trails, the park’s forests and mountain streams abut the Chugach Mountains and Chugach State Park creating a wilderness setting only minutes from downtown.

Anchorage-based writer specializing in Alaska’s awesome outdoors.

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