Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Terry Knowles Coastal Trail-Anchorage

Back in May we walked along the paved bike path by Ship Creek. At the time I thought that was the Coastal Trail, but after actually biking the Coastal Trail in Anchorage a few days ago and consulting a biking trails map for the area, I now realize that was the Ship Creek Trail, which is connected by a few blocks of city streets to the Coastal Trail down by the train depot.

 We parked by Westchester Lagoon off of Spenard Road, which is about a mile from the start of the Coastal Trail along the Chester Creek bike path.  The bridge that heads to the right towards downtown fell down (yep, the bottom just fell out from the looks of it) so it is blocked off and an alternate route provided to that part of the trails via city streets. So we maneuvered to the left towards Kinkaid Park. 

Ah, but the Coastal Trail is beautiful!The trail is mostly flat with some gentle rolling hills, though by the Ted Stevens Airport there is a steep section, and the last half mile up to the Kinkaid Park Chalet is a long uphill. There are large sections of birch trees, part of the trail was lined with blooming, scented roses, and peeks of Cook Inlet were numerous. The trail was also very busy with runners, walkers and bikers so we had to be vigilant around the curves and on the downhills.

If there is one thing I noticed about the Coastal Trail is the complete lack of restrooms at all of the access and parking areas. There are 2 portapotties at the Westchester Lagoon, and then the Kinkaid Chalet bathrooms 9 miles up the coast with nothing in between.

The area by the airport is a hot spot of activity. Folks were taking pictures (it is also a high, open point on the trail), sitting on the grass watching planes come in right over their heads, land, and take off. One plane would take off and the next moment another would land. The two planes that landed as we biked by were the University of Alaska Anchorage private jet and then a large cargo plane. There is a parking lot right there as well for path access.

A sign at the trailhead of the Coastal Trail

A ship was coming in as we were biking the trail

There are plenty of benches, picnic tables and paved pull-off areas along the Coastal Trail

The chalet at Kinkaid Park is open 12-8:30 M-Sat (12-5 on Sun) with indoor restrooms

The Coastal Trail appears to be a popular spot to watch air traffic at the Ted Stevens Airport. Landing planes come right over the trail

Enjoying the view from the Coastal Trail
I am looking forward to the opportunity to bike this again, explore some of the side connector trails, check out Earthquake Park that is right along the path, and try some of the mountain bike trails in Kinkaid. I'll admit: I am very jealous of the trail system in Anchorage, both paved and trail. They are extensive. It would definitely be one of the "selling factors" if I were to consider moving to Anchorage.

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