In effort to tidy Anchorage trails, Alaska Trails seeks volunteers for last events of season

The nonprofit holds dozens of trail brushing and tread repair events each season
In effort to tidy Anchorage trails, Alaska Trails seeks volunteers for last events of season
Published: Sep. 7, 2023 at 6:34 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - An Anchorage-based nonprofit, focused on making sure recreational trails in the region are in good shape and ready for use, was back at work again Wednesday as it nears the close of the 2023 season.

Alaska Trails, which is in its 20th year and runs largely off the support of volunteers, was working Wednesday morning on the popular Near Point Trail, in the area of the Stuckagain Heights trailhead. The project is one of more than two dozen on the group’s list for attention in 2023.

“Each summer, we do about 25 volunteer events,” said Alaska Trails’ Maya Kaup, who joined the organization last year. “We’re out nearly every weekend on different trails in the Anchorage bowl, even all the way down to Seward, and we’re clearing brush. That’s what we’re doing today — it’s called trail brushing, getting all those alders off the trail, making it safer so you’re not smacked in the face by a branch and so you can see more and make sure bears aren’t right around the corner. So it’s safer in that sense.”

Kaup said Alaska Trails crews also work on treads of trails as well, making sure there aren’t huge puddles or other obstacles for people to run right into. The group hand-builds trails as well.

“I am someone that is out on the trails every weekend,” Kaup said, “and I’m the kind of person that enjoys staying on the trail; I’m not an off-trail person, I get lost easily. So having a clearly defined trail I can follow is really important. And I just really appreciate sustainable trails as well.

“A lot of trails go straight up the mountain, and that’s not always great for sustainability,” she continued. “You know, there’s a lot of erosion, the trail sometimes disappears when there’s a big storm that comes through, so what we like to do at Alaska Trails is build sustainable trails that will last for years to come that are safe and fun for everyone to enjoy.”

Alaska Trail Stewards, as the group’s volunteers are called, covered an estimated 52,381 feet of trail in 2022, and donated 1,108 hours of work over the course of 24 events that year.

“Our land managers, like the Chugach State Park rangers and U.S. Forest Service, they just have a backlog of trail maintenance,” Kaup explained. “There are so many trails in Alaska, and they just don’t have the resources to keep all those trails maintained. So that’s a main reason why we come in — and it’s a main reason why Alaska Trails was first formed — is to help out those land managers and make sure everything is in great shape for everyone to enjoy.”

There are three more events hosted by Alaska Trails that are happening in the month of September. The first is on Sept. 9 and will focus on the Horsetail Falls Connector trail in Whittier. A week later, on Sept. 16, workers will be at McHugh Creek, and on Sept. 23, a team will tackle a section of Mt. Baldy. A volunteer appreciation event is slated for Oct. 5 at Double Shovel Cider Company.

Those interested can learn more about Alaska Trails and how to sign up to volunteer, donate, or simply learn more about the organization at this website.