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Trail Feature: Point Caroline Trail

Posted: May 24, 2013 - 12:00am
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The first part of the graveled Point Caroline Trail is through second growth.  Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
The first part of the graveled Point Caroline Trail is through second growth.

My mother said that after visiting Alaska she felt the closest she’d ever felt to god. I’m not religious so it would be stretching things to say her statement and a thirst for divine intervention brought me to the Point Caroline Trail. But there is a connection.

The drive alone — north on Glacier Highway to mile 23 — was worth it. Turn-off lanes and overlooks dot the two-lane highway that serves less as a means for travel but more as a vein to vistas.

Nestled at the top of the driveway into the Jensen-Olson Arboretum, hidden under the thickening spring brush of the finally-why-were-you-so-late spring is the trailhead to the Point Caroline Trail.

Park your car off to the side, just before or after the driveway. Peak into the woods and you’ll see the trail maker. Stop there and pause. Inhale. You won’t be able to: The landscape is choking.

Gargantuan spruces tower overhead with a light undercoat of moss. Ferns fail to climb skyward. Lichens linger.

As I stood at the trailhead, I couldn’t move. Though the trail is but 0.4 miles long and remains close to the Arboretum, it soon ambles into the woods and you are at once consumed by the Southeast Alaska rainforest.

The trail is easy to navigate with little to no incline or decline. In short, it’s a simple stroll. Newly-laid gravel is strewn about the path making for a mess-free, innocuous adventure into this hidden treasure. Total travel time from downtown: 30 minutes.

I came here for a reprieve, a morning awakening of sorts just before work and could have easily returned after my shift. It’s the perfect place to wander while regenerating after a sleepless night or hard day.

What’s at the trail’s end? I won’t spoil. That’s something to see with your own eyes. And as you saunter back, you may feel enlightened or your may not. I do not know. That prerogative is yours alone.

What I do know is this. As I pulled away with the radio turned up, Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” came on. That’s when I understood what it was my mother had seen: a glimpse of heaven.

• Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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