Trail Mix, Inc. has announced its intent to apply for grant funding under the Recreational Trails Program to help fund local trail improvements in the Juneau area in an effort to both protect the surrounding trail ecology and to improve the overall hiking experience for users, said George Schaaf, executive director with Trail Mix Inc.
The Sheep Creek trail, Mt. Juneau trail, and the Mt. Roberts trail are all on the docket for potential upgrades.
Schaaf said these improvements will not only make this trio of trails easier to access, but they will also make them more durable.
"These three are some of the most popular trails in town (but) a lot of these trails follow old mining routes and they were not built or designed with sustainability in mind," he said.
The Mt. Roberts trail, for instance, draws locals and visitors throughout the summer months. But when the rains come, Schaaf said hikers naturally aim to avoid the mud and puddles that inevitably grow as water fails to run off the trail.
"This widens the trail," Schaaf said " and exposes roots and wears away vegetation."
The grant money, which Schaaf predicts will be an uncertainty until the beginning of 2010, will give Trail Mix Inc. the means to rework the trail so water runs away from heavily trafficked areas.
Sheep Creek and the Mt. Juneau trails will also see see improvements that come on the heels of work done in years past to various sections of each trail.
"These trails have all had some extensive work done," Schaaf said.
He said Sheep Creek is currently quite steep near the ridgeline and the group hopes to lessen the climb by doing a small re-route and adding a possible switchback. In all, the upgraded trail will be about 3,000 feet longer.
The Mt. Juneau trail has also seen some refurbishing in recent years, but only to the lower portion accessed most often by hikers off of the Perseverance Trail.
Trail Mix hopes to widen and improve the safety of the upper portion leading to Mt. Juneau's summit.
Schaaf estimates each project will take about ten weeks and work won't begin until the snow melts next spring.
Additionally, the local non-profit has applied for funds that will go toward the purchase of a Canycom S160 Rubber Tracked Carrier to be used for trail construction.