View from a different seat: Pedal the peninsula

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

Kenai Peninsula bicycling ranges from mountain trails to rural roads with striking views.

For a back-country ride, pick a trail in Chugach National Forest:

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 mountain lake with good grayling fishing. Look for wildflowers in alpine meadows.

The Resurrection Trail challenges serious bikers. The 38-mile route begins at Mile 53.1 of the Sterling Highway, rises 2,350 feet, then descends to Hope. It has been characterized as difficult both going up and returning. For more information, call the Seward Ranger District office at 224-3374.

* The Tsalteshi Trails, behind Skyview High School just south of Soldotna at Mile 98 of the Sterling Highway, provide a workout when there is no time to head for the mountains. The trails, clearly marked, range from flat to steep. Routes range from 1.8 to 6.5 kilometers in length.

There are several options for those who would rather follow the pavement:

* A level 6.5-mile bike trail follows Kalifornsky Beach Road from Soldotna to Bridge Access Road.

* Robinson Loop Road, between Sterling and Soldotna, runs through rolling farm fields and 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.

* 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. The south end offers a few good views of the inlet. Crooked Creek State Recreation Area is at Mile 1.7. A dirt road at the northeast corner of the circuit leads to the beach by the mouth of the Kasilof River.

* For a strenuous workout and spectacular views of Kachemak Bay, take an 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. Turn left on Skyline Drive. Then, it's 3.3 miles to West Hill Road, a 2.2-mile coast to the Sterling Highway. The final 3.2 miles follows the highway to Lake Street, East End Road and Paul Banks.

* A 3-mile bike path down the the Homer Spit also yields stunning views of Kachemak Bay. There is limited parking at the base of the spit.

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