The National Trails System Act of 1968 authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to recognize exemplary trails of local and regional significance as National Recreation Trails. Over 900 National Recreation Trails in all 50 states provide outdoor recreation activities in a variety of urban and rural settings. The newly designated Campbell Tract Loop Trail is one of only 16 National Recreation Trails in Alaska.
Alaska’s newest National Recreation Trail
Campbell Tract Loop Trail is located on the BLM’s Campbell Tract Special Recreation Management Area in Anchorage. This trail is a critical link between urban trails and surrounding municipal and state park lands.
The 3.4-mile Loop Trail (view map) consists of improved and natural surface trails open to year-round, non-motorized recreational activities such as mountain biking, skijoring, cross country and skate skiing, snowshoeing, equestrian use, walking, and hiking. Trail users experience numerous opportunities to view Alaskan wildlife species, including black and brown bear, lynx, moose, bald eagles, owls, coyotes, and the occasional wolf.
A community resource
The Campbell Tract trail system is a model of stewardship through partnership. Each year thousands of volunteers help with trail upgrades and maintenance activities during National Trails Day, National Public Lands Day, and similar events. Ten partner organizations and user groups regularly provide trail maintenance assistance. Agreements with three of these groups ensure the loop receives excellent winter grooming throughout snow season.
Each year the BLM Campbell Creek Science Center uses the Loop Trail to teach thousands of Anchorage School District students about the natural world. For some students, it is their first foray into “wild Alaska.”
The Loop Trail and Campbell Tract are a hub for trail users and groups to come together to communicate and learn. The BLM hosts monthly user group meetings to discuss issues and concerns. Numerous outdoor groups use the Loop Trail regularly. Use surveys documented more than 140,000 trail user visits to the Campbell Tract in fiscal year 2007, with an average annual increase of 5-10% over the past five years.
Although Campbell Tract Loop Trail plays a central role in the everyday life, education, and health of thousands of Anchorage residents, some take it for granted. Designation of Campbell Tract Loop Trail as a National Recreation Trail is a key step in elevating appreciation for this important resource.