Alaska has some of the most scenic bike trails in the world. Biking can be both an excellent way to stay in shape and see the state during your time as a summer employee with us! Here are some of our favorite rides, although in a state larger than California, Texas and Montana combined, you’re sure to find more.
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Tongass Rainforest Ride
Considered the most tropical bike route in Alaska (that’s right, tropical), the 9.5-mile Tongass Rainforest Ride takes you through a series of gorgeous valley and mountain views, along coastline, and affords views of Mendenhall and Harding glaciers. The Tongass National Forest is a part of the largest temperate rainforest in the world, encompassing 17 million acres of land including a range of environments from old-growth forest to stunning coastline. The climate here keeps Southeast Alaska fairly balmy year-round, so the trails will likely stay clear for a winter ride if you’re staying longer than the summer.
Kincaid Park Trail
The Kincaid Park Trail, a 45-mile, double-track trail maintained for cross-country skiers in the winter, is popular with cyclists in Anchorage in the summer. The trail is sometimes called “the roller coaster” for its hilly terrain. The 1,500-acre park used to be a missile storage facility during the Cold War; you can still see some of the silos (don’t worry – they’re used for storage now). You’ll also have views of Cook Inlet and the surrounding mountains. Keep an eye out for moose, which also enjoy the park, and if you see them, steer clear.
Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
Also in Anchorage, you’ll find the 11-mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, which connects to Kincaid Park. The trail, often used by locals for other activities including running, rollerblading and skiing, runs along Anchorage’s coast and forest land, giving you views of the water, the city skyline and North America’s tallest peak, Denali. You also can get a glimpse of Alaska history because the trail follows the fault line of the 1964 earthquake. Watch for whales along the coastline. And remember to keep an eye out for moose: They always have the right of way.
Happy Valley Trail
One of our favorite biking areas in Fairbanks is Ester Dome, a nearby mountain and recreation area. Here, you have the opportunity to view Alaska’s famous wildlife in abundance, including moose, black bear, brown bear (grizzlies), lynx, wolves, bald eagles, peregrine falcons and many other checklist-worthy species. The 11-mile, single-track Happy Valley Trail winds through forestland around the mountain. Ester Dome is also a great place for viewing the aurora borealis, the famous northern lights that appear frequently in the Fairbanks area.
Denali National Park Trail
In Denali National Park, cyclists have the option of creating a ride as long as they can handle the park’s 198 miles of mostly gravel roads. What’s cool about this ride is that you can board a shuttle bus with your bike and get dropped off or picked up at various points, and you can go with your bike where no shuttle buses aren’t allowed (as long as you stay on the gravel trail). Reserving a shuttle is an excellent idea as buses can only carry two bikes at a time, and not all of them can accommodate cyclists. Choose the difficulty of your ride by terrain – there are some very steep climbs and some serious downhill rides. Bring your bear spray and don’t get confident about how fast you can ride – remember that grizzlies can sprint up to 35 mph.
Upper Russian River Trail
If you’re in the Cooper Landing area on the Kenai Peninsula, the Upper Russian River Trail offers an intermediate, 21-mile, single-track day ride along the Harding Ice Trail. Pack a lunch and stop for a break along the Upper Russian Lake, enjoying forests and wildflowers. Your reward at Mile 20 is a view of the Russian River Falls, which is navigated by sockeye salmon on their way up the river to spawn. That’s determination.