White Mountains Trail Conditions Update
Last updated Friday, December 6, 2013
General Remarks/Safety Alert
Rain, rain, go away! Another bout of unusually warm weather and rain is sweeping through the White Mountains this week. During the last 24 hours, temperatures have hovered near the freezing point on Wickersham Dome and in Nome Creek. Slightly higher temperatures are forecast for Saturday.
This week the BLM trail crew groomed the Colorado Creek, Windy Creek, Fossil Gap, and Fossil Creek trails. See below for additional information on trail conditions, which vary considerably.
Snow depth in the White Mountains ranges from 6 to 20 inches. In areas of skimpy snow, expect to find exposed tussocks, bumps, and rough patches until we get more snow. River and stream crossings remain thin, and open leads are a possibility, particularly on Beaver Creek and Fossil Creek – proceed with extra caution there.
Descriptions for additional trails will be added as the trail crew gets a chance to break and groom them.
Wickersham Creek Trail: This trail was broken by BLM last week and is in decent condition. Several inches of fresh snow were reported on the trail earlier this week. Bear tracks were seen on the trail several weeks ago. The Beaver Creek crossing was reported as thin ice, with open leads visible downstream. Careful route finding over Beaver Creek may be necessary.
Trail Creek Trail: The BLM crew broke this trail two weeks ago. The trail has received a fair amount of traffic since then and was last reported in good condition. The Beaver Creek crossing had thin ice but was solid enough to cross -- proceed with caution there.
Fossil Creek Trail: The BLM broke this trail on Dec. 4. The upper part of the trail is passable but in poor condition, with little snow, rough conditions, and open water at several creek crossings. This section is not recommended for inexperienced winter travelers. The lower part of the trail from the Fossil Gap trail junction (by Caribou Bluff) is in decent condition but tussocky in places. It was last groomed a few weeks ago.
Fossil Gap Trail: The trail was groomed Dec. 3 and is in good condition.
Colorado Creek Trail: The BLM crew groomed this trail on Dec. 3 and 4. The trail is in good condition to Wolf Run with only a few tricky spots.
Windy Creek Trail: This trail was groomed on Dec. 3. The first 7 miles from Wolf Run Cabin are in poor condition with only 6 to 8 inches of snow and lots of exposed tussocks. As you approach the top of Windy Gap, the snow gets deeper and the trail improves.
McKay Creek Trail: The BLM broke this trail on Nov. 26. Numerous small trees had fallen across the trail. The crew removed many of these but has more work to do on the first 4 miles from the trailhead. In general, the trail is in good condition. The O'Brien Creek crossing was sketchy a few weeks ago but is improving.
Lower Nome Creek Trail was broken on Nov. 25 and is in good condition.
Bear Creek Trail was broken on Nov. 25 and is in good condition. Numerous large trees fell near the cabin and outhouse but narrowly missed the structures.
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.