White Mountains National Recreation Area

White Mountains Trail Conditions Update

Last updated Friday, November 20, 2015

General Remarks/Safety Alert  

Favorable weather and decent snow depth allowed the BLM trail crew to make progress on about half of the White Mountains trails this week. The crew broke the Wickersham Creek, lower Fossil Creek, Trail Creek, Lower Nome Creek, Bear Creek, and McKay Creek trails. Remnants of crusty, early season snow helped in breaking trail and preparing a compacted base for grooming in coming weeks. Snowfall is adequate for winter travel in most areas, though trails remain rough. Be prepared for exposed tussocks, steep-sided gullies and cutbanks, and tricky stream crossings. Much of Beaver Creek froze only last week, and numerous open leads and areas of thin ice were still visible this week. Even some of the smaller creeks haven’t frozen solid yet.

Most areas have about 12 to 15 inches on snow, and more snow is expected this weekend and next week.

Next week the trail crew intends to break the Colorado Creek and Windy Creek trails, allowing access to Wolf Run and Windy Gap cabins from the west side. The BLM will likely not be able to break the following trails prior to the holiday weekend: Fossil Gap, upper Fossil Creek (between Caribou Bluff and Windy Gap cabins), Cache Mountain Loop, Moose Creek, and Big Bend. Rough conditions, open water, and downed trees are to be expected on those trails.  

Information on specific trails is listed below as it becomes available.

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.

Trail Conditions

Wickersham Creek Trail is in very good condition as far as Lee’s Cabin, and in fair condition but rough and bumpy to Eleazar’s Cabin and Borealis Cabin. The Beaver Creek crossing remains a bit sketchy. The ice isn’t that thick yet, though this week’s colder temperatures are helping. Earlier this week the best route to cross Beaver Creek was upstream by the beaver lodge. However, conditions change daily, so use caution.

Fossil Creek Trail -- The Fossil Creek Trail to Caribou Bluff Cabin is in fair condition. The early snow left a nice crust underneath the new snow, but the trail remains rough because of exposed tussocks. The BLM has not yet broken the trail beyond Caribou Bluff.
Trail Creek Trail -- From Wickersham Dome to a few miles before Moose Creek Cabin, the trail is in very good condition.  From Moose Creek Cabin to Crowberry Cabin is packed, with plenty of snow, but very bumpy and slow. The Beaver Creek crossing, 6 miles past Crowberry Cabin is newly frozen with thin spots. The trail groomers broke through in a few places, so use extreme caution. The slough just off Beaver Creek is frozen solid, but the little creek about a half mile from Beaver Creek remains open and is not recommended yet for snowmachines.  
McKay Creek -- The trail has been broken and is in fair (bumpy) condition. The trail crew removed numerous downed trees. The Beaver Creek crossing was solid as of yesterday.
Bear Creek Trail -- The first 3 miles of the Bear Creek Trail are in poor condition; more snow is needed to fill ruts. The crossing at Little Champion Creek was in decent shape as of yesterday, but thin ice and open, flowing water at the Bear Creek crossing makes reaching Richard's Cabin very difficult. The trail crew broke through the ice in numerous places. This trail is not recommended for travel at this time. 

Lower Nome Creek Trail – This trail is in fair condition with numerous bumpy sections. The stream crossings at Ophir Creek and Nome Creek are passable.