Every so often I come across something in Anchorage that makes me think, "I could actually live here." I was in Anchorage by myself the other day and in the mood to explore so decided to see what was at the end of Dimond Boulevard. What was at the end of Dimond was the real gem of Anchorage: Kincaid Park.
I came in the back entrance of the park where the motocross stadium is. I'm not a big fan of motocross, but when a dirtbike flew 40 feet into the air right in front of me, I was duly impressed. Open 5 days a week, the place was hopping, with trucks pulling in and out and 5-10 dirtbikes flying around the stadium at any one time. Some were obviously better than others; not all were pulling as much air as that first one I saw.
Then I climbed the sand dune behind the motocross stadium. I wasn't sure which came first, the motocross or the dune (as in, did all that sand blow out of the motocross area??), but it was still a fascinating area, with bird (bat?) holes in the side of the sandstone cliff and an incredible view of Cook Inlet and Turnagin Arm. 'Paintball Prohibited' signs were plastered everywhere, and that appears to be one of the few things that cannot be done in Kincaid Park.
Next I started hiking. There was a rabbit warren of trails--twisty turny trails of hard-packed dirt that would be incredible for mountain biking, though protection would be needed from the devil's club hanging over the trail in places. Of the 60 kilometers of trails, which are cross-country ski trails in the winter, 17 kilometers are lighted. The picture shows just how twisty they are. I counted 21 "steep downhills" on this map, so the terrain is certainly challenging enough.
After a hike I headed back to the car and drove the perimeter of the park, which took me past huge California-style housing developments (all the well-to-do in Anchorage want to be next door to Kincaid Park, I imagine) to the main entrance of the park. Wow. Brand new pavement, lighting, landscaping, newly paved bike paths winding along. I stopped at one pull-off and it was the biathalon range. There a group of people were training an attack dog. The dog did so well he pulled the padded 'arm' off the man who was wearing it. I beat a hasty retreat.
Rollerskiers abounded, as did walkers, joggers and bikers (abounded in Alaska terms of population density, which is much less than, say, Midwest population density). The end of the road was a packed parking area with a year-round cafeteria/chalet surrounded by soccer fields, a playground, a frisbee golf course, and an overlook.
On my way out I checked out Campbell Lake. A couple of people were kayaking on it and fishing is allowed as well. There is also an archery range and it looked like they are building a viewing stadium into the side of one hill. There are bridges and tunnels, old bunkers from the military presence and now used for storage, and I saw a moose along one road. I can see myself being an avid biker if I had easy access to Kincaid, and the skiing would be incredible. Now that I know what it has, I will plan my trips to Anchorage a little differently and take my bike, rollerblades or skis. This is too good to pass up!
If you're interested in reading about the history of Kincaid Park, the Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage put together a very complete history. It can be found at http://www.anchoragenordicski.com/Trails/trailsKincaid.htm.