White Mountains National Recreation Area

White Mountains Trail Conditions Update

Last updated Friday, January 30, 2015

General Remarks/Safety Alert  

Cold temperatures this week kept the trail grooming crew in town awaiting warmer weather. Last week the crew groomed the McKay Creek, Lower Nome Creek, and Bear Creek trails, where they reported about two inches of new snow. Conditions on the trails have not changed significantly in the past few weeks, and most trails are in good condition.

Conditions still remain rough in places due to meager snow and/or drifting. The Cache Mountain Divide area has slightly more snow than the rest of the White Mountains, so conditions there are good. Travelers are advised to approach all river and creek crossings with extra caution because ice remains thin in places.

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 last groomed the trail on Jan. 14. The trail is in very good condition. 

Ski Loop Trail – This non-motorized trail was groomed on Jan. 15. It is in good condition.

Fossil Creek Trail - The BLM crew groomed this trail on Jan. 13. There are a few cascading overflow sections developing between Caribou Bluff and Windy Gap, but the trail is generally in good condition.

Fossil Gap Trail - This trail was broken on Jan. 14. It is in good condition, except for one spot where the trail skirts a beaver pond and dam next to Beaver Creek (see photo). Expect thin snow and drifting on the Colorado Creek side.

A trail groomer negotiates a tricky part of the Fossil Gap Trail with open water and thin ice.
Look for open thin ice on the beaver pond (in the background) and open water below the beaver dam (on the right) in this spot near the midpoint of the Fossil Gap Trail, where the trail parallels Beaver Creek. View is toward Caribou Bluff, with Beaver Creek out of sight on the left.

Trail Creek Trail – BLM groomed this trail from Wickersham Dome to Moose Creek on Jan 15 and to Beaver Creek on Jan. 6. The trail is in very good condition. Watch for a short detour around a deep gully between Lees and Moose Creek cabins. Snow remains skimpy between Beaver Creek and the McKay Creek Trail junction, so be prepared for rough conditions through the tussocks.  

Moose Creek Trail – This trail was groomed on Jan. 15 and is in excellent condition.

Colorado Creek Trailhead (mile 57 Elliott Hwy.)

Colorado Creek Trail – This trail was groomed on Jan. 7 and is in good condition. Some drifting has likely occurred since the trail was last groomed.

Windy Creek Trail – BLM groomed this trail on Jan. 14. The trail is in fair condition, with some  rough tussock sections and some challenging side-hill conditions. This part of the White Mountains has received less snow than other areas.  

Big Bend Trail – BLM groomed this trail on Jan. 8. The first 5 miles on the north side (Colorado Creek side) and portions of the high ridge have almost no snow, and travel is not recommmended there. On the south side of the ridge the trail is in good condition.

McKay Creek Trailhead (mile 42 Steese Hwy.)

McKay Creek Trail – The BLM trail crew groomed this trail on Jan. 21. The trail is in good condition.

Cache Mountain Divide Trail – BLM groomed this trail on December 29 and 30. The trail out of Cache Mountain Cabin and over the divide is in good condition, with little overflow and decent snow depth. Snow is not as deep around the Ice Lakes, so watch for exposed rocks. Overflow ice conditions on the Ice Lakes were good as of several weeks ago.

Lower Nome Creek Trail – BLM groomed this trail on Jan 20. It is in good condition.

Bear Creek Trail – The BLM trail crew groomed this trail on Jan 20. It is in decent condition.