Sunday, August 30, 2015

Biking Anchorage's Girdwood Trail

Anchorage, Alaska's, Girdwood Trail runs from Girdwood to Bird Point (hence its nickname, "Bird to Gird").  It has since been extended to Indian.

The 9.6 earthquake of 1964 was the second largest in recorded history and lowered the ground here eight feet, putting the forest that was here below the high tide line of Turnagain Arm and flooding the spruce forest with saltwater, killing all the trees. But since salt is the best preservative, the trees remain intact, supported by the three feet of silt deposits that were left by the tide. The area is now called the "Ghost forest."

No, this is not Anchorage's self-defense system! This 105 MM recoilless rifle (M27A1) pictured below was used to relieve the snow load before potential avalanches could crash down the mountain and destroy the Seward Highway and the Alaska Railroad tracks at its base. Ultimately, the highway and tracks were moved west to the shore of Turnagain Arm to prevent avalanches from blocking them, and the old road was turned into the bike trail.

Here the trail has risen onto a shelf above the rerouted highway, giving good vantage points to the sea. There is an elevation gain of 275 feet on the trail. Interpretive signs, restrooms, and even free telescopes are placed along the trail. An addition to the bike trail was under construction when I biked here which will add 3.5 miles and connect it to another segment in Fall, 2004, creating a 17 mile trail from Girdwood to Indian.

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