White Mountains National Recreation Area

White Mountains Trail Conditions Update

Last updated Friday, December 12, 2014

General Remarks/Safety Alert  

Wind gusts between 20 and 30 miles per hour hammered the White Mountains early this week, leaving drifts and bare spots in our meager snow. The BLM trail crew groomed the McKay and Bear Creek trails after the wind subsided, but the other trails likely have significant drifts and exposed tussocks in exposed areas. Be prepared for rough conditions, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.

Conditions on most trails will remain rough until we receive more snow. Nearly half of the trails have not yet been visited by the BLM and may have downed trees, open water at creeks, or other travel hazards. Travelers are advised to approach all river and creek crossings with extra caution because ice remains thin in places.

Information on specific trails, if available, is listed below. 

In late June the BLM built a new Moose Creek Cabin up the hill from the old cabin on the Trail Creek Trail (see map below). The new cabin is now available for reservation.

 Map showing old and new Moose Creek Cabins in the White Mountains.

Map showing the new Moose Creek Cabin in relation to the old cabin and nearby trails.

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.

Wickersham Dome Trailhead (mile 28 Elliott Hwy.)

Wickersham Creek Trail – The BLM crew pulled groomers from Wickersham Dome to Borealis-LeFevre Cabin on Dec. 3. Before this week's high winds, conditions were good in most places. The Beaver Creek crossing is improving, especially if you detour a short distance upstream. The Wickersham Creek crossing shortly before Borealis had water on top of the ice as of last week.

Fossil Creek Trail - The BLM crew broke part of the trail (from Borealis to Caribou Bluff Cabin) on Dec. 3. The trail is fairly rough, especially through the tussocks, but can be traveled. The crew did not travel beyond Caribou Bluff toward Windy Gap but they expect that part of the trail to be extremely rough at this point.

Trail Creek Trail – This trail was groomed as far as Crowberry on Dec. 2 and was in good condition before the windstorm. Watch for a temporary detour around a deep gully a few miles past Lees. Also on Dec. 2 the trail crew broke the trail from Crowberry down to Beaver Creek but encountered open water on a slough about one-half mile past Beaver Creek. Until this crossing freezes solidly, McKay Creek Trail is a better option for accessing Cache Mountain Cabin. The last few miles from the McKay Creek Trail junction to Cache Mountain Cabin were groomed on Dec. 10, but BLM has not yet broken the short section between the McKay Creek Trail junction and Beaver Creek. 

Colorado Creek Trailhead (mile 57 Elliott Hwy.)

Colorado Creek Trail – The first 10 miles of this trail was groomed on Dec. 4, and the rest of the trail to Wolf Run Cabin was broken the same day. In general, the trail was in decent shape as of last week, but several deep gullies in the first 7 miles will be hard to get around until we have more snow. Expect drifting the last few miles before Colorado Creek Cabin as well as exposed tussocks and rough conditions in exposed areas.

McKay Creek Trailhead (mile 42 Steese Hwy.)

McKay Creek Trail – The BLM trail crew groomed this trail on Dec. 10. The trail is in fair condition. Some exposed areas were blown clear of snow, making for rough traveling conditions.

Bear Creek Trail – The BLM trail crew groomed this trail on Dec. 10. It is in decent condition.

No information is yet available on conditions on the other White Mountains trails.