New Town Mountain Trail Going Up…..!
Elevation 55 has been busy and you don’t have to go far to see their efforts using a few hand tools and and their own schedule. Residents and visitors alike now have the beginnings of a mountain trail that is doable by a vast majority of hikers right from town. The high school trail is too challenging for most, so few attempt or even get in position to enjoy the incredible views of Valdez on a summer day. If you are an uber athlete that needs some thigh burn with vertical, this is a good start or end to your day.
The trailhead is located just behind the Senior Center garage and is marked with tape till traffic defines it better. There are one or two muddy spots that will heal with careful feet otherwise the trail is clean. The first viewpoint is pretty easy to get at. The higher viewpoint requires one to pass through the “Jungle Gym” of trimmed out alders, then up and over a small ledge which some might find fun or not. The trail then meanders though mostly ferns, grasses and occasional thickets of salmonberry and is cleared to the bottom of the next crux up which is the proposed route to the bench and beyond marked with simple rock cairns. Future trail efforts will continue with mostly easy machete work to define two long switchbacks across a 28 degree slope to the bench. It’s not as steep as it looks.
The hardest part of the trail work is done, but much more needs to be done to get what Valdez should have had a long time ago…a trail to the sky from town, like Seward, Juneau and Sitka to name a few rivals in “adventure” tourism. A few volunteers with machetes and light tools could easily punch through to the bench and beyond. This project is way over do and E-55 will plug away at it but we could always use some help. I don’t think there is much more to do than a couple hours of work. Their is no need to bring gas tools. Snippers, handsaw, and machete are perfect and quiet. As far as where to go next, be creative and keep the trail angles as low as possible and contour your efforts for a family of hikers in mind.
With a hunk of good weather for the long term, find some time and explore the natural edge of Valdez.
Here’s a short video from the upper view point.