The Interior’s extensive network of trails makes winter adventures abundant and accessible. Practicing good trail etiquette makes the intended trail user’s experience more enjoyable, and it keeps trail users safe.
Within the Fairbanks North Star Borough there are hundreds of miles of multi-use trails. Signs are posted to lay down the rules at most trailheads. Right of way rules, in general, require motorized vehicle users, such as snowmachiners, to yield to non-motorized trail users. Other restrictions and rules are posted, too.
For example, at Creamer’s Field, bikes are not allowed on the boreal forest trail, and dog owners are asked to clean up their pet’s feces.
On the Alaska Dog Mushers Association trails, skijorers are welcome but should give right of way to mushers. Snowmachines are not allowed on these trails; they are groomed by the association and big mountain snowmachine tracks tear them up.
And dogs are not allowed on the trails at Birch Hill Recreation Area.
Trail etiquette also requires common sense. Mushers and fat bikers should wear headlamps during these dark winter days; snowmachine drivers should slow down as they navigate blind corners.
Trail users also should be aware of events happening throughout the winter. Trails are marked well on race day, but that hasn’t prevented collisions.
In March, during the Annamaet Limited North American Championships, a snowmachine crossed the path of Chugiak musher Kourosh Partow. The snowmachine went over the sled’s rear runners, causing the musher’s sled to flip. Partow and his dogs were not injured, but the incident cost Partow a first place lead.
However, a collision on the trails can be more costly than a podium finish. In March 2016, a Nulato man crashed into an Iditarod team, killing one dog and injuring four others. The man was sentenced to six months in prison and ordered to pay a $36,000 fine.
Snowmachine drivers aren’t the only people capable of fouling up the trails. Imagine a cross-country skier scooting down the Chena River the same day as Iron Dog snowmachines zoom toward the finish line. It’s not only inconsiderate to the competitors, but also it’s an unnecessary risk that could result in serious injury.
We should enjoy the trails this winter but not at the expense of others. Stay alert, smart and courteous on the trails.
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner,