On the path: Unity Trail connects communities, people

Posted: Friday, July 16, 2010

Biking, jogging, skate skiing, rollerblading, or simply strolling, the Unity Trail offers central Kenai Peninsula residents plenty of recreation opportunities.

M. Scott Moon
M. Scott Moon
The Unity Trail wraps down Pickle Hill like a ribbon, keeping users away from traffic moving along the Kenai Spur Highway earlier this month. The trail is utilized year-round by a variety of non-motorized users.

The trail stretches between the twin cities along the Kenai Spur Highway, and has amplified outdoor activities since its completion by the state in 2003.

Not only does the Unity Trail connect the two communities but it also brings residents together out on the route.

"It makes me feel safer, that's for sure," said Jaida Quinn of Kenai, fitting in a mid-day walk with her partner Don Gough.

She said she mainly uses the trail for fun and exercise, walking or cycling from Turnbull Avenue in Soldotna to the Pillars.

"I think it's great," she said.

Gough was less enthused.

"I never use the trail," he said. "I got drug out here."

But, he was still out there leisurely enjoying the pedestrian path with his loved one.

Quinn said she wished there was a trail across the river.

"I'm a little bummed out that on Bridge Access there's not anything there," she said.

Safety is a big issue for the trail's users, some to stay out of the traffic and others to stay out of the woods.

Tara Rosin of Sterling said she likes the Unity Trail because it's easy, paved and protected.

"I drive in from Sterling to come here to stay away from bears," Rosin said.

Her and her friend Leilani Jolliffe of Soldotna like to use the trail occasionally to walk their dogs, even if it means yelling to converse over the traffic sound.

"It's a little bit noisy," Rosin said.

And if that does not keep the bears away, Rosin also carries her trusty bear spray.

"I heard they're running out onto the highway," she said.

Other bikers on the trail can sometimes pose safety issues too.

"It's nice if everyone uses the same protocol," she said.

Rosin said she appreciates it when cyclists let her know they are coming up behind her.

"We just biked out to East Redoubt and back," said Jamie Nelson of Kenai, who was out for a bike ride with his wife, Angie, and their friend Julie Stephens, also of Kenai."We love that it's well-maintained and they keep it nice."

The Nelsons live right on the trail at Strawberry Road so they regularly use it to jog or train for bicycle races, like the Fireweed 200 they recently rode.

"It's nice that there's mile markers too," Angie said.

Angie said she likes that the city keeps the trail clear of snow in the winter so she can use it to jog year-round.

"They keep it clear so the snow melts quicker and you can get on it again in the spring," Stephens said.

Craig Williams of Kenai took a jaunt with his dogs on the trail Thursday. Although he said he does not use the trail a lot, from time to time he uses it to go bike riding with his niece and nephew.

"It's nice. It's convenient. It's better than on the roads," Williams said.

Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at brielle.schaeffer@peninsulaclarion.com.

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