There’s a new reason to head out the road, and it’s not just for the scenery or the solitude.
Eagle Beach Recreation Area is now boasting some beefy new grooming equipment which solidifies the state-run park as a true year-round playground.
Alaska State Parks advisory board member Kurt Iverson said the funding was approved last year and $15,000 allowed for the purchase of a Ski-doo Skandik snow machine with a wide track, a roller, compactor and track-setter.
The new gear replaces a set of hand-me-down grooming equipment that has been riddled with problems over the past few years.
Now, the new equipment is being put to good use this winter and skiers are already enjoying the trails and nodding in approval.
But the area hasn’t always been a draw to folks during winter months.
“In the past, parks people and the U.S. Forest Service would do the grooming at Eagle Beach,” Iverson said. ”(But) since the transfer of the area from the USFS to the state, the area has seen marked improvement over the last few years.”
Iverson said the area received funding for a new ranger station, paving, a new parking area, the construction of new cabins and the hiring of a ranger to live on-site year-round to help manage the area.
Iverson said the trails being groomed at Eagle Beach are not difficult and consists of multiple loops. Overall, he said, there is approximately four kilometers of groomed trails.
“I would describe the terrain as rolling,” he said.
They also pass through a variety of scenery, Iverson said, including tidal flats, river banks, old growth forest and beaches.
But he also said fancy new ski trails are not the only draw in the winter.
“(It’s definitely) a multiple use area,” he said. “There’s walking, sledding, fire pits and new cabins for rent.”
As with many adventures in the winter, sometimes it’s getting there that is the hard part. Iverson said, Glacier Highway is regularly plowed since the opening of the Kensington Mine.
Last summer two new cabins were constructed with one going online for reservations last fall. The other will be available for rent this spring.
“(The area) is attractive for touring skiers, those with families or anyone looking to go for a ski on a Sunday,” Iverson said. “It’s world-class scenery along with a very interesting environment. There’s a little of everything.”
• Contact Outdoors editor Abby Lowell at firstname.lastname@example.org.