White Mountains Trail Conditions Update
Last updated Wednesday, April 24, 2013
General Remarks/Safety Alert
Most years riding snowmachines into the heart of the Whites is impossible or unsafe this time of year -- the snow on the trails is soft or gone, and the ice on Beaver Creek is too thin to cross safely. However, this year has seen excellent trail conditions extend well into April, and that made us review BLM's rules for seasonally closing winter trails to motorized use (in this case snowmachines). Here's what we found out: BLM's rules state that trails on the near side of Beaver Creek remain open to snowmachine use as long as there's sufficient snow cover. However, you can't ride your snowmachine across or beyond Beaver Creek starting May 1. In addition, the following areas are already closed to motorized use (as of April 15) due to peregrine falcons returning to their nest sites along the Limestone Jags: portions of the Cache Mountain Loop Trail west of the Cache Mountain Divide, Windy Creek Trail east of Beaver Creek, Fossil Gap Trail east of Beaver Creek, and Fossil Creek Trail past Borealis-LeFevre Cabin. (Incidentally, we are reviewing the need for these closures in the resource management plan we are currently developing.)
Because of the above trail closures, we will not be renting the Windy Gap, Wolf Run, and Caribou Bluff cabins for motorized access until next winter. Non-motorized trail users can use all trails and cabins as long as they'd like, but everyone, whether on snowmachine, dogsled, ski, or bike, should be aware that warm weather -- once it returns! -- can lead to rapid deterioration of the trails as well as unsafe conditions for crossing creeks and rivers. Spring breakup may be delayed this year, but it's coming!
The White Mountains trails continue to receive new snow this week. While the BLM trail crew has stopped grooming trails for the season, cool temperatures and late-season snowfall have provided abundant snow and unusually good trail conditions for this late in April. On Monday (before this week's snow), the Wickersham Creek and Big Bend trails remained firm even through the warm afternoon hours, and the creek crossings were solid. The Wickersham Creek, Big Bend, Trail Creek, and Moose Creek trails all showed recent snowmachine tracks. Trail users should continue to expect encounters with overflow ice and drifted snow in some places.
Remember to carry survival gear and be prepared for the unexpected, even during day trips. Bad weather or unexpected mishaps may prolong your trip or even mean spending a night on the trail. Also, be sure to leave a detailed trip plan with a friend or family member. A trip plan form (PDF/100 KB) is available on the Alaska State Troopers website.
Cabin Reservations and Information
For reservations and permits, visit the BLM office in Fairbanks (address below) or call the BLM Public Lands Information Office at (907) 474-2251. Cabins must be paid for in advance and the permit carried with you to the cabin. Trail shelters are free of charge and used on a first come, first served basis. Cabins may not have firewood present for the woodstove, so plan to carry some with you or cut some along the way. As a courtesy, replace the firewood that you use. Dog owners please remember to clean up after your dogs.
Detailed trail and cabin descriptions are available at the Bureau of Land Management Fairbanks District Office located at 1150 University Ave. in Fairbanks. A map of areas open to motorized vehicle use is also available.