Chugach Corner: Winter recreation on trails

Photo courtesy of Amanda Williams

By Robert Scribner and Amanda Williams
For The Cordova Times

Winter is right around the corner, so it’s a great time of year to take advantage of the extraordinary outdoor activities on the Chugach National Forest in and around Cordova. Among the many options to choose from, two stand out: Crater Lake Trail and Muskeg Meander Ski Trail.

Crater Lake Trail is popular with many Cordovans and is just a short drive from downtown. This 2.4-mile trail is considered difficult and may be even more challenging in the ice and snow. When hiking Crater Lake Trail this time of year, bring ice grippers for your shoes. The upper stretches of Crater Lake trail can be more challenging, and hikers have reported sliding off the trail on these steeper sections. Also, be aware that significant snow loads on the upper sections can give way to avalanches, particularly where the terrain is steep and open. This trail has an abundance of features, including bridges over cascading creeks, soaring eagles and other wildlife viewing.

Muskeg Meander Ski Trail is located at mile 18 on the Copper River Highway. This 3-mile trail is considered moderate and is primarily used during the winter months. The Forest Service grooms this trail once the snow is deep enough, making for some outstanding cross-country skiing and snowshoeing with spectacular views of the Chugach mountain range.

The backcountry here is incredibly beautiful but can be very dangerous. Plan to hike with a friend, and be sure to share your plans with someone. Be Bear Aware. Depending on food and weather conditions bears may still be active in the area. Bring plenty of fluids and food, and pack extra clothing to be prepared for wind, freezing temperatures, snow and other variables.

To learn more about the Crater Lake Trail, check out cdv.tiny.us/craterlake.

To learn more about the Muskeg Meander Trail, check out cdv.tiny.us/muskeg.

For forecast and avalanche conditions, check out alaskasnow.org/cordova/.

Amanda Williams is a VetsWork intern working for the Forest Service as a public outreach specialist on the Cordova Ranger District. Williams is a Navy veteran who served during Operation Iraqi Freedom.