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November 29, 2008
From journal Anchorage in the Fall
District of Columbia County, District of Columbia
August 19, 2004
In 1996, the American Hiking Society designated Anchorage as "Trail Town USA." The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (named after the former Alaska governor, current US Senator, and owner of the popular Downtown Deli) is part of the reason why. The trail is a very popular walking, running, and biking trail along the Cook Inlet coastline in Anchorage. The wide, paved, all-weather trail charts an eleven-mile course from downtown to Kincaid Park, passing several parks and the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport along the way. The entire walk is very scenic, with great views of the coastline, Anchorage skyline, forested areas, and open meadows. There are frequent moose sightings in several areas along the route, and an occasional bear may even find its way into the area. Remember, while Anchorage is a fairly big city, this is still Alaska, and wildlife is known to find its way into the populated areas.
There are several places to access this long trail. Starting downtown, the trail can be accessed at the northeast end of Second Ave., near the Alaska Railroad depot. The trail runs along the coastline to Westchester Lagoon, paralleling the Alaska Railroad rail line and going through a tunnel under the tracks. Continuing to the southwest, the trail enters Earthquake Park (see separate entry for details on the park). There are some steep grades on the approach to the park. Continuing southward, the trail goes through Airport Park, a small picnic area near the airport. From this point on expect to see some very low flying jets overhead, as the trail skirts the edge of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. Most planes take off and land over the water in Anchorage, so expect to see both departing and arriving planes overhead. The section of the trail is very popular with aircraft spotters like myself, and even though I was there at a slow time, it was fun to get such great views. There are also a few places where you can see over the fence onto the airport ramp and watch some of the operations there. Finally, after passing the airport, the trail approaches Kincaid Park and the end of the trail.
The Tony Knowles trail is a mixed-use facility. The majority of the people using the trail that I saw were on bikes, but there were also a number of hikers like myself, runners, and a few people on inline skates.
Some Useful Web Links:
From journal The Seward Highway, America's Most Scenic Byway
December 29, 2001
Do not leave the trail and walk down to the 'beach' or 'strand'. Tides rise rapidly and quicksand/quickmud is everywhere along the water. This is no place for water side activities such as wading or swimming.
The stories of people being killed after venturing out onto the muddy tideline are true, including the story of the honeymooners who were walking (keeping an eye out for gold nuggets) and became separated when the wife's foot stuck in the mud. Although the husband ran for help and professional rescue people arrived, the new wife drowned in front of her husband, only yards from dry land.
Yes, I have seen people swimming in this area, but it is a very stupid idea. This is literally a 'no rescue' zone.
There is good walking around downtown Anchorage, but you have to be wise. Even if you see other visitors trekking the trails under the Midnight Sun, it doesn't mean that its a good idea. Stick to normal 'daylight' walking hours when other people are about.
Stay off the beach and tidal areas even if you see gold nuggets. Avoid following other tourists into dangerous areas. Talk and shake your keys as you walk. If you see a bear or moose on the trails, back up and turn around and go back where you came from. Do not approach wild animals. Moose can be very dangerous, especially a mother with calf.
Maps of the trail are available all over downtown, but it's really very easy. Note the lack of boat and ship traffic. The tides here are very dangerous.
From journal Alaska Eats & Shopping