Stave off spring itch on accessible trails

Despite recent weather some hikes boasting no ice, little snow

Posted: Friday, March 12, 2010

Longer days and mild temperatures seem to have most of Juneau thinking about breaking winter hibernation habits early.

George Schaaf, executive director of Trail Mix, said those who are ready to hit the trails, sans Yaktrax, have some options - even with the latest round of chilly weather.

But before rushing out the door, Schaaf recommends checking out the urban avalanche advisory at juneau.org/avalanche, just in case.

Trails at the glacier: The Nugget Falls Trail and the East Glacier Trail leading up to it are both ice-free, said Schaaf. Hikers will typically find themselves navigating frozen runoff that coats these trails like an ice rink when snow levels are low, but most recently this area has been clear.

For good measure, it might be a good idea to pack a traction device.

Rainforest Trail: This trail, located near the end of North Douglas Highway, meanders under a rainforest canopy and is currently a great choice for hiking, Schaaf said.

Access can be gained at either the first parking area, distinguished by signage, or the second which is a quarter mile further down the road, and distinguishable by a parking area on the right side of the road.

Auke Lake Trail: This trail, completed last summer, caters to a variety of users and follows the contours of Auke Lake.

Schaaf said he knows this trail is very protected by the forest canopy and is sure to be clear of snow in most spots.

Please note that parking is not allowed along Glacier Highway. The best parking can be found in the large lot at the Auke Lake wayside and boat ramp.

Dupont Trail: This trail begins at the end of Thane Road and continues along the contours of the sun-facing slope.

Currently the trail is free of snow and ice - though likely not mud - and should be clear until about trail mile one.

Schaaf said a downed tree was reported at this location, though hikers can bypass the obstruction and continue to the beach.

Treadwell Historic Trail: This trail begins behind the Sandy Beach play area and covered gathering structure in Douglas. Its sea-level location makes it a good bet when snow continues to fall at higher elevations.

And even if the trail still boasts a bit of ice in the trees, the beach, with the rise and fall of tides, is certainly clear for walking or running.

And while it might be tempting to frequent common trails of summer, Schaaf said a few in particular are a big "no, no" this time of year because of wind-loading and avalanche danger.

Perseverance/Flume Trails: Located in the backyard of downtown Juneau and a hot spot for dog-walkers, mountain runners and cyclists, these trails are also in the middle of historically active avalanche paths.

Schaaf said avalanches are not the only hazard in this area. They've had rock and mud slides bury the trail in the past, and this year is no exception.

"Rock has come down on Perseverance," he said. "Not as much as in previous years and it's still passable, but we probably won't be able to get back there to clear it until mid-May."

Mt. Roberts Trail: This trail is almost certainly still covered in a blanket of snow, except for the trailheads on Basin Road and Starr Hill. In addition, Schaaf said this trail has at least one tree down across the trail. He said the removal of that tree will have to wait until the snow melts.

Dzantik'i Heeni Ecology Trail: This short trail can be accessed from the middle school in Lemon Creek. Schaaf said there is a tree down across this trail, but that it will be cleared as soon as possible.



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