Beach Lake Trail – Alternative I (revised)

Representatives from the Chugiak-Eagle River Parks and Rec Board of Supervisors, Chugach Mountain Bike Riders, and the Chugiak Dog Mushers Association stomped around the woods together on Sunday, Nov 20th, in an effort to better understand the needs, wants, and concerns of each user group.

Alternative I (revised), a “Single Bridge” on the portage trail between Beach Lake and the inlet was proposed. This alternative will solve the existing conflict between off-leash dogs and mushers on the Portage Trail (between Beach Lake and the Inlet,) and there will be no loss of mushing trail mileage. It will provide a direct ADA-accessible route to the inlet.

Each group will bring this back to their boards for discussion and further modifications may be made. We are hopeful that this alternative is one that can work for all the interested stakeholders.

Other alternatives may still be considered. Please email CMBRalaska@gmail.com for more information.

Beach Lake Trail Additional Alternatives E & F.

Mushing Only Sign at Beach Lake Park

Connecting Eagle River to the Coast

Chugach Mountain Bike Riders is working with Chugiak-Eagle River Parks and Rec to develop a cost-effective design to bring hikers-bikers-dog walkers-skijorers and other non-motorized users around the west side of Beach Lake to the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet.

We are tasked with protecting the existing dog mushing opportunities, while offering an ADA-accessible trail that will be supported by our fiscally conservative community.

The original proposal can be seen at https://cmbralaska.org/2022/11/09/beach-lake-trail-connecting-eagle-river-to-the-coast/

Alternative F keeps all existing mushing trails.

Alternative F: Two Crossing Solution.

Keep all the mushing trail corridors, but move the inner mushing trail away from the lake edge, then add a multiuse trail 25′ back from the lake.  Build a new mushing connection 250′ away from the portage trail between the lake and inlet. Install fencing and gates (or chicanes) to stop casual crossing of the mushing trails.

This Alternative does not give the preferred 100′ separation between uses, and is not a grade separated crossing, but should satisfy all other goals within the grant funding available.

No Changes to Existing Trail Corridors. Upgrade narrow hiking trails to ADA standards

Alternative G: Summer-Only ADA Coastal Access

Upgrade existing social hiking trails to ADA standards

Beach Lake Lodge at the south end of Beach Lake provides barrier-free recreation to ADA standards. The current ADA multiuse trail ends after 1/4 mile where the proposed winter gate is shown on the map.

The mushing trails are open to multiuse in the summer, and while hikers can access the inlet and this trail system through a spider-web of skinny social trails (or bushwhacking through the forest), the inlet is not accessible from the ADA parking lot.

This is a minimal build alternative that does not alter any mushing trail routes, but upgrades existing social hiking trails to ADA standards.

Beach Lake Trail – Connecting Eagle River to the Coast

Thanks to Anchorage Assemblymember Kevin Cross, Chugach Mountain Bike Riders, a Chugiak 501(c)3 nonprofit, has received a federal ARPA grant to improve Chugiak-Eagle River trails and start building the Northern Extension of the Coastal Trail. The first segment proposed to be built is in Beach Lake Park, from Beach Lake Lodge to the Coast. These funds must be used in the next two years.

At 1,750 acres, Chugiak-Eagle River’s largest municipally-owned regional park, Beach Lake Park, has approximately 30 miles of cross-country skiing and dog mushing trails, but less than 1/4 mile of year-round multiuse trail. We propose to build about one mile of year-round multiuse trail along the west side of Beach Lake out to the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet. This is an approved trail in the 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan.

Letters of Support, Comments, and Concerns

Please direct any letters of support, comments about, or concerns with this proposal to Chugach Mountain Bike Riders, PO Box 672555, Chugiak, AK 99567. CMBRalaska@gmail.com. The comment period opens Nov 9, 2022.

Public testimony on any park project is welcome at the regular Eagle River/Chugiak Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors meetings. Board members meet on the second Monday of every month at 7:00 pm. The meeting is held at Eagle River Town Center, MOA Conference Room 170, located at 12001 Business Blvd., Eagle River, AK 99577.

Beach Lake from the Existing 1/4 mile Multiuse Trail
Proposed ADA-accessible Inlet Overlook about 1 mile from the Beach Lake Lodge Trailhead.
Fire Creek Estuary in Beach Lake Park, about 1/4 mile along the shore from the proposed Inlet Overlook.

Excerpts from the 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan

Year Round Multi-Use Trails. Although there are miles of trails in the park, none are truly multi-use. There are ski trails or mushing trails. Walkers, bikers, equestrians, and dogs off leash are “out there” in the park to some degree, but at the wrong time of year, these users damage maintained trails, and cause major safety conflicts. Mushers are reluctant to let multi-use trails into the park or near their trails for fear of injury—to unsuspecting users, to mushers, and to dogs. Moreover, there is a fear that multi-use could displace mushers, which is what has historically happened at Far North Bicentennial Park.

Members of the general public, on the other hand, want new trail opportunities that allow them to use Beach Lake Park year-round, especially along the road and near the lake and coast. Some feel that the park is a large regional asset, and “should not just cater to mushers.” The balanced compromise is some new limited multi use, with protection of existing uses.” (BLMP p27)

“A Responsible, and Feasible Option”

“More site specific surveys, problem solving, and environmental analysis will be required in order to ensure that specific elements of the Development Concept Map constitute a responsible, and feasible option.” (BLMP p30)

Phase 2: 2015-2025: “In this timeframe, it is likely that there will be more pressure on the park for improved infrastructure to serve the general public, particularly in the Beach Lake vicinity.” (BLMP p34)


Musher Safety and Trail Separation

Off-leash dogs are the greatest danger to mushers. The 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan calls for grade-separated crossings as a solution to separating mushers from other users at motorized and multiuse crossings. The 2011 Far North Bicentennial Trails Plan in Anchorage has more specific Dog Sled Design Parameters, calling for “250’ minimum sight distance at trail intersections” and states that “100’ parallel separation from other trails is preferable.”  As of 2022 all motorized crossings in both Beach Lake and Far North Bicentennial Park are grade-separated, but no grade-separated multiuse crossings have been constructed in the 11 years since both plans were approved.  The new mushing trails in Far North Bicentennial Park use fencing and signage to separate multiuse from mushing trails.

Beach Lake Trail Inventory

Hikers have created a high-density network of social trails (in red) connecting the Beach Lake parking lot with the Canoe Landing and Beach Access at the north end of the park.  These trails travel natural “desire lines” along the path of least resistance. This route starts on the 1/4 mi gravel multiuse path (green) at Beach Lake Lodge and then cuts through numerous access points onto the lakeside mushing trail (black) which leads to the small creek that drains Beach Lake into the inlet. The crossing from the Canoe Landing to the Beach is the natural portage following the west bank of the creek. This crossing is just over 100 yards, with wetlands to the east, significantly constraining trail design options.  All mushing trails at Beach Lake Park are two-way trails.

Trail Use Study

A trail study is currently in process to determine trail use patterns on the proposed multiuse corridor. This study started Fall 2022 after trails closed to multiuse and were managed as “Mushing Only.” Preliminary data show 89% of users (569) passing the trail counter are multiuse: hikers-bikers-boaters-dog walkers-etc. 11% of trail counts are of mushing teams (59 passes). Multiuse people are on the trails 8 days out of 10, with an average of 9 passes of the trail counter per day. Mushers are using the trails 1 day out of 4. It appears that there is a single large mushing team that is using these trails, making an average of 3 passes past the trail counter on days they mush. There were some (two or three) moose on the trail. One lynx, one coyote, and zero bears were counted.

New Multiuse Trail at Mirror Lake Park

Multiuse Trail Goals and Design

A new multiuse trail will be designed for year-round use: a 12’ wide clearing, hardened 8’ wide with gravel, set back from the lake at least 25’.  This design will keep the natural character of the area while allowing winter grooming. It will connect the existing Multiuse Trail to the Inlet Overlook and Beach Access points on the west bank of the creek that drains Beach Lake. This trail will also provide connections for canoers and boaters to paddle across the lake to a dock or landing and access the Inlet Overlook and Beach Access.  This proposed soft-surface ADA trail will end at the Inlet Overlook, where users can follow an existing trail to the beach.  Split rail fencing will be installed at the Inlet Overlook and where needed along trails. The preferred (Alternative E) trail will “maintain 2-way mushing traffic at the north end of the lake, while allowing a [multiuse] walking trail…” BLMP p 34.


2022 Beach Lake Multiuse Trail Alternatives.

Alternative A – No Action – Mushing Only

Mushing trails are open to multiuse from April 16th-July 31st. The current situation does not provide any year-round legal option for hikers, bikers, or other multiuse path activities around Beach Lake. Several “MUSHING ONLY” signs have been placed along the trails, but according to recent trail counts, there are more hikers using the lakeside mushing trail than dog mushers, leading to user conflict and unsafe conditions for both mushers and hikers.

Alternative B – Multiuse Only

Relocating approximately 1 mile of mushing trails to other parts of the trail system would provide the best separation of uses. It would have the highest impact on current uses, by closing the north end of the lake to mushing. It would be more expensive than preferred Alternative E since it would require building more trails to replace the closed segments.

Alternative C- Grade Separated Crossing – 2011 Concept

A grade-separated crossing is a tunnel or a bridge where the different trails can pass on top of each other without conflict.  This is the proposed concept for multiuse trail crossing presented in the 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan. This alternative preserves the existing mushing trails by routing hikers and boaters to a new dock, then over an “aesthetic bridge” up a hill to an overlook atop a 50-foot bluff. It then leads hikers downhill along the bluff edge to the Beach Access. This is by far the most expensive and high-impact option, and it is unlikely that it will stop hikers and boaters from using the existing path-of-least resistance around the lake and across the natural portage.   

Alternative D – Fencing

Alternative D attempts to retain existing mushing trails at a fraction of the cost of a grade-separated crossing. Instead of providing 100’ parallel separation between trails, Alternative D would use fencing to separate uses.  Unfortunately, this would require a north-south fence extending from Beach Lake almost to the inlet, a high-impact option both visually and ecologically. Furthermore, this option is unable to provide the 250’ recommended sight distance or a safe crossing due to five trail segments converging at one intersection.

Alternative E – Single Crossing – 2022 Preferred Alternative

An affordable, responsible, and feasible option. Alternative E would relocate approximately 0.5 miles of the low-use lakeside mushing trail (half of which is through wetlands, flooded and unusable in the summer) to other parts of the trail system and build a new 8’ wide gravel path (12’ wide clearing) at least 25’ back from the lake. The multiuse trail would cross a single two-way mushing trail with 250’ sight lines. There would be a small amount of fencing (split-rail with a finer backing where needed) and signage along the mushing trail to corral multiuse trail users, and provide a physical barrier and visual cue for both mushers and hikers/bikers/skiers.  This alternative provides the preferred 100’ parallel separation between multiuse and mushing trails.


Draft proposal for a new 2-mile loop in the SW part of the mushing trail system.

Relocated Mushing Trails

Current mushing trails are dedicated by the Anchorage Assembly and managed by Parks and Rec as Mushing-Only from August 1st-April 15th each year.  Chugiak Dog Mushers Association will propose locations for building or rebuilding trails to mitigate mushing trails displaced by multiuse development. The MOA Planning Department has requested that this multiuse trail proposal and pending mushing trail improvements be submitted as separate projects. MOA Title 21.03.190 – Street and trail review, allows certain trails of 1/2 mile or less (Preferred Alternative E) to be approved through a simplified process.

Beach Lake Trail Map with Proposed Alternatives Area outlined in Black. Park Boundary in Green.

In Summary

The 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan calls for the development of multiuse trails, “especially along the road and near the lake and coast” with “protection of existing uses.”

Chugach Mountain Bike Riders is offering to build 1/2 mile of new mushing trail in exchange for closing one of the mushing trails near the inlet. There is Federal grant funding allocated for both this multiuse trail extension, and for relocating 1/2 mile of mushing trail.

The 2011 Beach Lake Master Plan (Alternative C) recommends building a “grade-separated” bridge over the mushing trails, but it also requires “site-specific surveys” and “problem-solving” to ensure that the specific elements of the plan are “responsible and feasible.”

At an estimated $1M cost, this 2011 proposed dock and grade-separated crossing does not match current use demands and is not a fiscally responsible option. While technically feasible, it does not follow existing use patterns and would not solve the conflict of hikers and dog walkers trespassing on mushing trails.

The proposed 2022 Alternative E, a single crossing of a multiuse trail extension and the existing 2-way mushing trail, provides the recommended 250′ sight distance at crossings and 100′ parallel separation to minimize conflict between mushers and other users and will be funded with federal dollars.

2022 MERRY MASHER WINTER FAT BIKE RACE

Race 1 of 3 of the TREK WINTER FAT BIKE SERIES!

https://chugachmtb.redpodium.com/trek-winter-fat-bike-series

We’re going AFTER DARK for the 6th annual Mirror Lake Merry Masher winter bike race, a fundraiser for the Mirror Lake Singletrack.

About this event

* Registration ends Tues 12-27-22 11:59 pm. There is NO IN-PERSON registration*

https://chugachmtb.redpodium.com/trek-winter-fat-bike-series

We are pleased to announce Trek Bicycle Store of Anchorage as the sponsor for the sixth annual Mirror Lake Merry Masher winter bike race!

It’s gonna be a PARTY! Light up your rides, as we’re going after dark on a mix of flowy singletrack, a bit of nice wide doubletrack, a couple of great hill climbs, and some beautiful lake riding in the shadow of Bear Mountain in Chugiak.

You will have the option of one or two 5+ mile laps. You must complete the race in the 2-hour time limit.

The LONGER (2 lap) race will earn points towards the 3-race Trek Winter Bike Series:

  1. Wed Dec 28th 7pm Merry Masher at Mirror Lake
  2. Sat Feb 4th 11am Icy River Rampage at Eagle River Nature Center
  3. Wed Mar 1st 7pm Blue Booty Blitz at APU

If you’re not racing, you are welcome to come out and cheer!

Thanks to Trek Bicycle Store of Anchorage for sponsoring this year’s race.

This event is a membership drive and fundraiser for Chugach Mountain Bike Riders and proceeds will go to support the improvement of the Mirror Lake Singletrack.

When: Wednesday, December 28th. Bib Pick-Up 6pm. Race Start 7pm. Course Closes 9pm.

Where: Mirror Lake Park, Mile 24 Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, Alaska.

Cost: $45. ($5 for the untimed youth 1/2 lap ride.)

https://chugachmtb.redpodium.com/trek-winter-fat-bike-series


CMBR is hiring!

Executive Director

Chugach Mountain Bike Riders (CMBR)

Chugiak-Eagle River, Alaska

15-20 hours per week (0.5 FTE)

Salary: $26k/year (0.5 FTE)

Chugach Mountain Bike Riders has grown from four people with a dream of building mountain bike trails and a $400 budget in 2015, to the leading trail organization in Chugiak-Eagle River with a 2022 budget of over $400k. This all-volunteer organization is looking for an outgoing and dedicated Executive Director with excellent people skills to enable our volunteers to continue building our local mountain bike trails and community.

Volunteer Coordination

Supporting our volunteer-led organization is priority one. This Executive Director will support the volunteer secretary and treasurer to ensure that CMBR is compliant with local, state, and federal permits, bookkeeping, tax reporting, etc. The ED will work with and support CMBR kids youth MTB club volunteers, volunteer race directors, and volunteer trail crews.

Advocacy and Lobbying

This Executive Director will proactively develop relationships with local, state, and federal elected representatives and agencies, as well as tribal governments, native corporations, local businesses, and land owners. The ED will attend and promote CMBR at local community councils, Park and Recreation meetings, and develop coalitions with other nonprofit organizations.

Fundraising and Donor Stewardship

This Executive Director will be an experienced and successful grant writer, able to manage grant projects and grant reporting. The ED will actively fundraise locally and nationally, and develop and oversee our donor stewardship program.

Project Management

Furthermore, this ED must be experienced with MTB trail building and able to shepherd CMBR trail projects through public process, fundraising, permitting, bidding, implementation, and reporting. Our current priorities include the MTB singletrack trails at Mirror Lake and the Chugiak-Eagle River Greenbelt Trails connecting Eagle River to Eklutna through Beach Lake and Mirror Lake parks.

Communications and Promotion

The Executive Director will oversee promotion, communication, and design, and advocate for CMBR on social media, email, websites, traditional mail, posters, and other means as necessary.

Other Duties as required.

CMBR is an Equal Opportunity Employer.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin.

Submit resume and cover letter by September 30, 2022 to andrew@CMBRalaska.org

2022 Muddy Masher Downcountry MTB Race

Need an excuse to ride the NEW TRAILS at Mirror Lake? Check out Ben’s Bike Playground? Join us for the MUDDY MASHER mountain bike race!

About this event

* Registration ends Sat 09-10-22 11:59 pm. There is NO IN-PERSON registration*

We are pleased to announce Trek Bicycle Store of Anchorage as the sponsor for the first annual Mirror Lake MUDDY Masher DOWNCOUNTRY bike race!

What does downcountry mean? Welp, it’s your standard multi-lap XC MTB race with the new downhill lines in the loop. These are all rollable, but should put a little excitement into your flow! (as well as some climbs to get your heart racing.)

This is not a cyclocross race. 2.2″ width tires minimum to protect the trails.

The race course is dependent on conditions, but expect a short course (6+ miles) and a long course (12+ mile) options that can be finished within the 2-hour time limit. There will be a youth single-lap race starting at the same time.

This event fundraiser for Chugach Mountain Bike Riders and proceeds will go to support the improvement of the Mirror Lake Singletrack.

When: Sunday, Sept 11th. Bib Pick-Up 2pm. Race Start 3pm.

Where: Mirror Lake Park, Mile 24 Glenn Hwy, Chugiak, Alaska.

Cost: $35 adults/$15 youth

SUPPORT THE NORTHERN COASTAL TRAIL!

Please send an email in support to the Anchorage Assembly at wwmas@anchorageak.gov for CMBR’s $1.5M ARPA request for “Rebuilding, re-establishing, and expanding the Chugiak Eagle River Trail System”

The Muni reconvenes at a work session to discuss ARPA funding on Thurs July 7th.

We especially could use support from Assembly members from the Anchorage Bowl!

You can find your assembly person at: https://www.muni.org/departments/assembly/pages/contact%20information.aspx


ARPA PROJECT TITLE: Rebuilding, re-establishing, and expanding the Chugiak Eagle River Trail System

SHORT DESCRIPTION: Progress with the Anchorage Trails Plan with an emphasis on the Northern Extension of the Coastal Trail.

ORGANIZATION NAME: Chugach Mountain Bike Riders, 501(C)3

AMOUNT REQUESTED: $1.5M

Dear Assembly Members, 

I encourage you to fund trails in Chugiak-Eagle River. In addition to repairing existing mushing, xc skiing, mountain biking, and hiking trails, CMBR will START CONSTRUCTION on the muni-approved FIRE CREEK TRAIL connecting Eagle River to the Coast (Coastal Trail Plan and Areawide Trails Plan). This trail will follow the Historic Iditarod Trail and be part of the Alaska Long Trail system connecting Eagle River to Eklutna. 

The Muni owns a trail easement along Fire Creek as a part of ANCSA/ANILCA, and much of this trail section would be within the Muni-owned Beach Lake Park, and is included in the Beach Lake Park master plan.

Thank You!

Mirror Lake MTB Update June 2022

BEN’S BIKE PLAYGROUND IS OPEN!
Come out and enjoy the pump track, balance features, and jump lines. We have beginner, intermediate and expert options, so please walk the trails with your kiddos before you send them off!

MORE NEW TRAILS BY THE OVERLOOK!
Professional trail builders Happy Trails has just finished building two new trails off Hot Tamale/Overlook Trail. These beginner-intermediate gravity trails are a step up from Ben’s Bike Playground and include Ben’s Jump Line, “the BEE-Line,” (a nod to the Hillside and her workers) and a flowy pump-trail in the woods “Lazy-G,” named after Ben’s dog Georgie, whose ashes are spread with Ben’s on top of Bear Mountain.

WARNING: NEW CHICANE/GATE ON HOT TAMALE.
We have installed a chicane/gate on Hot Tamale where it crosses the new trails. Be aware of the new traffic flow and slow down by the new construction.

WEDNESDAY TRAIL WORK PARTIES!
We expect to open these new gravity trails in early August, and need YOUR HELP to clear hazards, lop roots, stack logs, install sign posts and prep the trails for muni inspection in late July.Meet on the back road (CAMP GORSUCH RD.) and head up the multiuse trail to the OVERLOOK.
Weds June 29th, 2022 6:30-8:30pm
Weds July 6th, 2022 6:30-8:30pm

CMBR Kids Starts NEXT WEEK!

CMBR Kids Starts NEXT WEEK!
We still have a few spots left for our youth MTB club, and a FULL week of skill building options scheduled for our volunteers! We are certifying our lead coaches through the nationally recognized Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP).

Register your kiddos at:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/mirror-lake-youth-mountain-club-july-august-2022-registration-318125671447

Tues June 28th CMBR Kids Coach Meeting at OMR
Tues July 5th CMBR Kids First Session
Weds July 6th CMBR Kids Coach training with BICP Instructor Sofia Petroni
Thurs July 7th CMBR Kids Night #2
Fri July 8th – Sun July 10th CMBR Kids Coach BICP Instructor Certification (FULL)

TRAIL SPONSORS NEEDED!
We are still looking for sponsors for the new jump lines. Individual family sponsorship starts at $500, we suggest $5000 for corporate sponsorship.

BEN’S HATS ARE IN!
Stop by Alaska Cycle Chic on Northern Lights (across from the Bicycle Shop) or the Trek Store of Anchorage on Benson (behind REI) to pick yours up and support the trails!