Thursday, March 31, 2016

Wishbone Hill

A little hidden gem is Wishbone Hill.  You head Right on Jonesville Road in Sutton, AK.  Then you follow the road to a hard left to Slipper Lake where many RV and trailers with ATV are camped. At .4 mile on Slipper Lake Road (google map point) take a hard right down a road with lots of ATV traffic.  The road is curvy and gravel.  You will pass a large shooting/gravel pit on the right.  Then after the man made large ups and downs (caution go slow or bottom out) at 2.05 mile, park on the right off the main road.  there is a place that heads to more fire pits.  Lock your car and walk across the road to the trail.

There is a little flagging tape on the trees.  It is a trail but to discourage 4 wheelers it is a bit overgrown and NO trailhead marker.  I made a google point here if you want to check your gps/phone.

Then a few hundred of feet you will see the only tricky part.  You will cross a shale/fossil bed up toward the top the trail meanders in the woods.  If you need a break, pick up a rock and look at it.  It is the largest fossil treasure that I have seen.

Through the woods, it was a bit of a scramble at times.

The trail is  clearly marked (in orange tape)  and once on top of the ridge you will head left in the grassy almost prairie like terrain.

You will then go down into a valley with a mysteriously looking large rock shaped like a shoe (only from the top do you see it was a shoe) .  Then back up the hill.

The next section keep heading up but there is many game trails that will lead you in a variety of ways.  Keep hiking up and you will reach a nice overlook that is amazing. Great picnic spot but it can be windy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Eska Falls Trail

Eska Creek Falls Trail: 4.1 miles one way.

This amazing trail has one problem, getting to the trail.  I will give my best attempt to explain how to get to the start the new non-motorized trail constructed by the borough two summers ago.  (The old trail, which is still there too, was used by off road vehicles and was a muddy mess.)

The road to the trailhead is not maintained and very rough.  I recommend a vehicle with high clearance so you can avoid a having a long walk on a road before you get to the actual trailhead.

At milepost 61 on the Glenn Highway, just as you are coming into the town of Sutton, turn north (left if coming from Palmer) onto Jonesville Road and follow it for approximately 2.25 miles, passing the road to Eska Mine for a huge parking lot of rv/atv and a lake  which is the main way the road goes to the left.  Continue a short way on Jonesville Road passing over a small bridge over Eska Creek. Just ahead will be some houses with two driveways.  After that the road gets narrower and much rougher.  Proceed up the road about 150 feet it will have a slight Y with a little road that will look like a large ATV trail to the left.  TAKE THAT ROAD TO THE LEFT UP THE HILL.  The other goes to Coyote Lake Park (abandoned) If you see a sign that says Coyote Lake Park you missed the turn to the left. 

The rest of the "road" is unmaintained extremely bumpy and very washed out in places.  But, if you continue taking this road you will get to a place that has a sign (finally) that says right ATV and Left Hikers.  Park near this sign wherever you can get off the road.  It is possible to turn left and drive a bit farther up the road, but it's basically tire tracks through the woods at that point.  So find a place to park along side the road/trail and hike left or northwest.  You will soon get to a kind of a turn around area of the road.  Look for the trailhead sign where you will see four stairs down  It is an amazing hike from here on out.  

Trail Conditions General description:
The Eska Creek Falls Trail is a moderately steep hiking trail traversing the south slope of Eska Peak. It roughly parallels Eska Creek, located west of the trail. The trail heads north, climbing 1300 feet in just over 2.5 miles. The hike to the falls can be completed in about 2 to 3 hours. The first half of the trail travels through a forest of spruce and aspen, and then breaks out into tall grasses and willow. At about the 1600-foot elevation the trail clears the forest and starts to traverse alpine tundra. At this point, there are grand views of the Matanuska River valley. At the 2000 foot level the trail begins to head up the nose of a ridge east of the creek. It can be challenging at times and tends to be muddy and slippery after a rain or frost. Caution is advised.Very nice switchbacks and clear marking on the trail.  

You will get to the wide open place on the top of the tundra.  You usually get a clear view of the falls.  The rest of the trail is just in partnership with the ATV.  Don't head toward the creek, but follow the ATV trail to the falls.  Very hilly.  

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Butte Dusty Side

Short and sweet, Bodenburg Butte offers easy access and spectacular scenery

Matt TunsethAlaska Dispatch News
Pioneer Peak as seen from atop Bodenburg Butte.MATT TUNSETH / ADN

PALMER -- The Mars-like surface of Bodenburg Butte was covered in children on a recent spring morning when students from nearby Knik Elementary staged a takeover of the red-hued landscape atop the 900-foot hunk of rock. As teachers and volunteers did their best to keep watch, the children ran, jumped and scrambled around the natural playground that’s become one of the Mat-Su’s most iconic and popular climbs.
Few hikes offer as much bang for the buck. Bodenburg Butte is a short, easily accessible climb near Palmer that provides 360-degree views from atop what’s essentially a large rock in the middle of a broad braided floodplain formed by the Knik and Matanuska rivers.
From the top, hikers can gaze upon a vast swath of rivers, forests and farmland stretching from Knik Glacier to Cook Inlet. To the south, 6,398-foot Pioneer Peak rises like a wall from surrounding farmland, while 6,119-foot Matanuska (Byers) Peak stands guard to the east. And nestled between the iconic peaks is Knik Glacier, its white-blue icy expanse drawing the eye like a giant shining gemstone. It’s an impressive vista and one that lures hundreds of hikers a day during peak summer weekends.
Although it’s a relatively short hike, “The Butte” offers an impressive amount of diversity. There are two main hiking trails up, a borough-maintained route on the northwest side and an unmaintained track up the south. Either way will get hikers to the top, and picking a path is often a matter of personal preference. However, there are significant differences between the trails that hikers should keep in mind.

“Old” south trail:  DUSTY SIDE :)

The “old” trail up the Butte is actually on private land owned by the Sandvik family. There’s a $3 per vehicle fee to park at the small lot (there’s room for about a dozen vehicles), as well as a portable outhouse across the street. The trailhead is also accessed off the Old Glenn via Bodenburg Loop, but from the loop’s south end. The spot is easy to find because it’s marked by a flashing yellow traffic light and a sign for the nearby reindeer farm. Take the loop 0.6 miles to the small dirt parking lot.
The old trail is much steeper than the borough-maintained side. It’s also a lot dustier when conditions are dry, especially the first few hundred yards.
After a short, steep climb through willow and alder, the trail passes a barbed-wire fence marking a hillside horse pasture. There’s a small pond there, and horses can sometimes be seen grazing in the meadow.
After a short flat section, the trail goes through a section of steep cliffs that will present the toughest obstacle for most hikers. A mix of rock and dirt, the area can be tricky to traverse, but the easiest way is to follow the clear path to the right for as far as you can, then scramble the rest of the way. Small children may have difficulty with this section, which requires a bit of care to climb safely.
From the cliffs, the trail breaks out into the open again for the trip to the summit. Adventurous climbers can take the direct route up the rocky face, while an easier route can be found by following the trail around to the left, where it links up with the West Butte trails.