FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A 250,000-acre state recreation area is getting a makeover thanks to a half million dollar federal grant.
Alaska State Parks has several construction projects planned for the Chena River State Recreation Area, including new parking lots at both the Angel Rocks and Granite Tors trailheads, putting in three new ''vaulted'' toilets, constructing more picnic areas and erecting interpretive displays featuring things such as boating safety, fishing and trail maps.
''Right now the Granite Tors and Angel Rocks trails have been loved to death and facilities are just not adequate for the traffic they recieve,'' said Anna Plager, northern area superintendent for Alaska State Parks.
Great Northwest Inc. of Fairbanks was awarded the contract to do the work, which is scheduled to begin Monday at Angel Rocks and continue through June.
The construction will be an inconvenience to hikers because they won't be able to park in the normal spots but state parks will offer alternative parking and no campgrounds or trails will be closed.
The most noticeable change will be at the 3.5-mile Angel Rocks trail at Mile 49 Chena Hot Springs Road, where there will be two parking lots constructed that will accomodate 24 vehicles, as well as a new toilets and more picnic sites. The Angel Rocks trail is the most popular hiking trail in the Fairbanks area, attracting dozens of locals and tourists each weekend throughout the summer who make the 1,500-foot climb to the top of the rocks to get a view of the Chena River valley.
''Right now we've got people parking along the road at Angel Rocks on the weekends,'' Plager said. ''It's not a safe situation.''
The trail also will be covered with gravel on some sections, and large rocks and other tripping hazards will be removed. More directional signs and interpretive displays will be added.
The parking lot at Granite Tors also will be renovated and expanded to hold 32 vehicles, Plager said. More picnic sites will also be built along the river.
A kiosk with interpretive signs will be constructed at Rosehip Campground at the entrance to the park at Mile 27 Chena Hot Springs Road. The signs will help visitors entering the park figure out what's available as far as camping and recreation. A new toilet will be installed and the pullout will be widened to hold more cars, Plager said.
Interpretive signs will be added to a pullout at Mile 36 Chena Hot Springs Road.
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