White Mountains Trail Conditions Update
Last updated Friday, April 15, 2016
General Remarks/Safety Alert
As the snow rapidly disappears from Fairbanks, the White Mountains trails are still holding up surprisingly well. The trail crew has been out on the trails completing end-of-season projects. They report that the Beaver Creek trail crossings remained solid this week, though open leads are developing up- and downstream of the crossings as the warm temperatures take their toll. Snow cover remains good, in part because the drifting snow of a few weeks ago filled in exposed areas that might otherwise be melting out by now. So far, the worst problem area is on the Fossil Gap Trail, where open water at a beaver pond has blocked passage near the trail's midpoint (details below).
Trail grooming is done for the season, so be prepared for making your own way or following the tracks of others. The information for specific trails reflects conditions before the most recent snow and wind.
Overflow ice (aufeis) is moderate this year overall but becoming more prevalent along the trails and at creek crossings -- watch for treacherous, sloping ice and water under the snow in these areas. Ice and water conditions on the trails can change daily, but the trend is toward more water, less (or thinner) ice.
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 222 University Ave. in Fairbanks. A map of areas open to motorized vehicle use is also available.
Wickersham Creek Trail was groomed Feb. 24 and is in very good condition, though bumpy between the Wickersham Dome Trailhead and Lees Cabin. Several areas of overflow ice and water are developing between the first creek crossing and Eleazar's Cabin. As of earlier this week the Beaver Creek crossing by Borealis was solid.
Colorado Creek Trail -- The trail crew groomed this trail on March 23. It is in very good condition after grooming, but had some drifting near Colorado Creek Cabin.
Big Bend Trail -- The Big Bend Trail was broken and groomed on Jan. 5. The trail has probably drifted over in places after last weekend's winds. Conditions are likely wind-blown and hard on top of the ridge.
Windy Creek Trail -- This trail was groomed on March 23 and is in very good condition.
Fossil Creek Trail -- The Fossil Creek Trail is in very good condition after grooming on March 22 and 23. A number of creek crossings have open water, generally just a few inches deep. Challenging water and ice conditions are still present on Fossil Creek a short distance below Windy Gap Cabin. This week that area was little flowing water, but it may get wetter again.
Fossil Gap Trail -- This trail was groomed on March 23. Open water has developed on the beaver pond near the midpoint of the trail. That section is not recommended for snowmachiners or dog teams because there's no good way to get around the water; skiers can probably get past it by walking across the beaver dam. Water on top of ice has been reported by the turnoff to Caribou Bluff Cabin, but it's not very extensive.
Trail Creek Trail -- This trail was groomed March 22 and is in very good condition with some drifts and bumps.
Moose Creek Trail -- The trail was groomed on Jan. 6. The trail was in very good condition prior to last weekend's winds and snow, which may have left challenging conditions.
Ski Loop Trail -- This nonmotorized trail was broken and groomed on Jan. 6. It is in very good condition.
McKay Creek -- The trail was groomed March 2 and was in good condition prior to last week's wind and snow. Expect drifting the first few miles and on top of the ridge in exposed areas.
Bear Creek Trail -- The Bear Creek Trail was groomed March 2 and is in good condition. The Bear Creek crossing is much improved from the difficult conditions earlier in the winter.
Lower Nome Creek Trail – This trail is in good condition after grooming on March 2.
Cache Mountain Loop Trail – The trail crew last groomed this trail on March 22. The trail is in very good condition. The Divide area was wind-blown and packed. As of earlier this week, the 'ice lakes' section remains mostly snow-covered and smooth. New snow has covered some of the fresh ice that formed on the bottom (Windy Gap) side of the ice lakes, but expect some shallow water in places.