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State parks builds new trail in Chena River State Rec Area

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Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2012 12:26 am | Updated: 11:34 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The Compeau Trail is now complete.

No longer will snowmachiners, ATVers, skiers and dog mushers have to negotiate the steep and treacherous Little Chena Dozer Line to reach Colorado Creek public-use cabin, via the Compeau Trail, in the Chena River State Recreation Area.

A contractor for Alaska State Parks has completed a new, six-mile sustainable trail that bypasses the dozer line and connects two other sustainable trails that lead to the cabin.

The end result is a 18 1/2-mile state-of-the-art, contour-line trail that should be less of a white-knuckle affair than traveling on the dozer line, which backcountry travelers have been using. It was put in during the record fire year of 2004, when wildfires north of Fairbanks threatened to spread into the Little Chena Valley.

The new trail, called the Compeau Connector, was cut into the side of a 45- to 70-percent grade hillside with a bulldozer and connects the 10-mile Compeau Trail to another 2 1/2-mile trail, both built in 2006, that lead to the Colorado Creek public-use cabin.

Alaska State Parks Northern Region Superintendent Brooks Ludwig said the new trail parallels the dozer line but doesn’t have the steep ups and downs the old trail did.

“It’s pretty much a traverse,” said Ludwig, who toured the trail on ATVs with state parks director Ben Ellis a few weeks ago. “There’s no real climbing and no real dropping. It just kind of sidehills around all these features.

“It’s pretty easy going,” he said. “You can look around and there’s plenty of wide spots in the trail to pass.”

The connector is eight feet wide, as opposed to six on the Compeau Trail, and features dozens of rolling dips to promote drainage and prevent erosion. Karl Benson, of Smallwood Creek Inc., was the contractor who did the work. Construction of the new trail was funded by recreational trail grants totaling $103,000.

State parks workers installed directional and mile marker signs last week and the trail is ready to go, Ludwig said. It will be groomed this winter for snowmachining, skiing and mushing, he said.

“Normally we let new trails sit for the first winter, but I wanted to get people off that dozer line so I said, ‘Let’s open it up this winter,’” Ludwig said. “That (dozer line) isn’t really family friendly. It’s got some pretty deep ruts and a lot of erosion.”

Contact outdoors editor Tim Mowry at 459-7587.

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