Biking offers more leisurely look at life

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2004

Whether it be for the joy of fresh air, the solitude of the outdoors, the surge of adrenaline from the exercise or for the beauty of traveling pollution free, biking on the Kenai Peninsula offers an alternative way to view the majestic mountains, crystal clear lakes, rushing rivers and many species of wildlife that make up the great outdoors of Alaska.

Biking trails exist for everyone, from the novice looking for a flat, easy ride on an off-the-beaten-path trial, to the seasoned professional looking for an extreme challenge up a nearly vertical climb.

Here are some of the popular trails in the area:

The Crescent Lake Trail begins three miles down Quartz Creek Road, off Mile 44.9 of the Sterling Highway. The 6.4-mile route climbs 1,000 feet to a some pristine alpine meadows and a mountain lake with grayling fishing.

"It's a jewel," said Mark Harro, of Beemun's bicycle shop in Soldotna. "It has a little of everything, and is a good family trail."

The Resurrection Trail challenges serious bikers but has some breathtaking scenery that make it worth the work. The 38-mile route begins at Mile 53.1 of the Sterling Highway, rises 2,350 feet, then descends to Hope.

"This is a hard trail," Harro said. "It starts out with a five-mile climb past Juneau Falls, then passes three lakes, then some switchbacks, a little more climbing above tree line and then it levels out and eventually works its way back down."

Harro also suggested the trail may be easier when taken from Hope toward Cooper Landing.

The Tsalteshi Trails behind Skyview High School, just south of Soldotna at Mile 98 of the Sterling Highway, provide a workout and don't require driving to the mountains. The trails are clearly marked and range from 1.8 to 6.5 kilometers in length.

"These are wide, nontechnical trails, but are hilly enough to provide a good workout," Harro said.

There also are several op-tions for those wishing to remain on the pavement:

From Mile 111.1 of the Sterling Highway in Kasilof, Cohoe Loop circles 15.2 miles by the Cook Inlet bluffs, rejoining the highway at Mile 114.3. Crooked Creek State Recreation Area is at Mile 1.7 and offers good opportunities for waterfowl viewing. A dirt road at the northeast corner of the circuit leads to the beach. The south side offers some good views of the inlet.

Robinson Loop Road, between Sterling and Soldotna, runs through farm fields and rolling birch, spruce and aspen forest, with good views of the Kenai Mountains. From Mile 87.5 of the Sterling Highway, it is 5.6 miles down Robinson Loop to Sterling. The last half-mile follows Swanson River Road, rejoining the highway at Mile 83.5.

For twists and turns, and ups and downs, take the 11-mile loop from Paul Banks Elementary School in Homer. Climb East Hill Road to Skyline Drive a 1,000-foot elevation gain in 2.6 miles. There are a lot of options once on top, many of which connect dirt and gravel trails with pavement. For more information call Chain Reaction Sports at 235-0750.

In Homer, views of Kachemak Bay can be enjoyed along the level 4.2-mile ride down the length of the Homer Spit.

For those interested in learning the area or just looking for company, the Peninsula Bike Team organizes monthly mountain bike trail rides. For more information, call Dave Feeken at 283-5888.

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