JUNEAU, Alaska — Phase one of work on Peterson Lake Trail is complete, meaning the path is more easily walkable for the first three-fourths of a mile, up to the scenic waterfall overlook.
Trail Mix Inc. crews have also maintained the path's historic character as a mining trail. In addition to the gravel pathway, as part of the U.S. Forest Service's agreement with the State Historic Preservation Office, Trail Mix crews have completed three sections of replica tramway along the trail, said USFS Recreation Planner Mike Dilger.
"We were able to put down this wood deck that's fashioned, as best we know, similar to the way they built it in the early 1900s," he said.
The boards run perpendicular to the trail, so it's more of a boardwalk than a plank system, he said. Metal along the deck was salvaged from the side of the trail.
"It has an old look to it," Dilger said.
Other sections of the first ¾ mile are gravel.
The work is being overseen by the Forest Service and largely carried out by Trail Mix, which is partnering on the project.
The partnership is "a way for us to stretch the limited dollars that we have," Dilger said.
Trail Mix has received a Recreational Trails Program grant, which is federally funded and administered by the state, and a Secure Rural Schools Act grant for the work, said Executive Director Erik Boraas.
On the Forest Service side, trail improvements have been funded by "little short amounts of money kind of bursting in from year to year," Dilger said.
They intend to eventually finish improvements on all 4.3 miles of the trail, ending at the lakeside, public-use cabin.
Phase two will have Trail Mix crews working to complete the next 2,000 feet of gravel cover through the end of the season; there's a chance it might be finished by the end of the summer.
Helicopters will soon be slinging gravel out at different points along the trail, Boraas said.
How much more Trail Mix crews can complete is weather and money dependent, but they're hoping to reach that 2,000-foot goal by the season's end. Generally, that's at the end of November.
Dilger is currently staking it out with tape, measuring as he goes.
"As I'm working out there, people will come up and just walk to the falls and then go back," Dilger said. "They're walking their dog, or have out of town visitors. It's kind of neat to see that we've created a new recreation experience, basically. It's a different destination that you can get too, see a nice view, and not get mud up to your knees."
The Peterson Lake Trailhead is located at Mile 24 of Glacier Highway.
Information from: Juneau (Alaska) Empire, http://www.juneauempire.com
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