Call it Anchorage’s winter recreation freeway.
The Chester Creek multi-use trail system connects city parks and mountain venues in east Anchorage with the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail along the shore of Knik Arm. The main trunk runs without break some four miles from Goose Lake Park to Westchester Lagoon. Using tunnels and bridges, this fun trail offers an uninterrupted travel corridor for skiers of all ages and ability level across the heart of the city. And it’s lighted all the way! If you are looking for different trails to explore, you should look over the Coastal Trail / Chest Creek trail mileage chart, or for a broader picture here is an over all map showing the Anchorage Trails including Chester Creek.
This main segment—the Lanie Fleischer Chester Creek Trail—parallels Chester Creek with a wide and mostly flat route that follows the paved bike trail beneath the snow. It tours through playgrounds, overlooks ponds, opens to spectacular Chugach Mountain views and threads a greenbelt forest that makes you feel far from any urban congestion.
Plan a fun outing with kids by skiing from a trailhead to a playground and back. (Valley of the Moon Park features a space ship and a unique springy climber.) Or simply explore a segment with views of the iced-up creek with myriad animal tracks crisscrossing the snow. You can check the weather at Merrill Field which is one mile north of the corridor here.
Once enough snow falls, the city parks department grooms the trail with set tracks and a skate lane. But the trail is extremely social—bikers, walkers, commuters, dog walkers all help pack down the snow. New snowfall draws so many skiers that descent classic tracks almost seem to set themselves. This is the place to see the city at play in winter. You can even take a look at an interactive map with real-time grooming updates. The Municiaplity of Anchorage also updates the grooming conditions for Anchorage's parks.
The city’s ski hub
Though very popular with residents of adjacent neighborhoods, the system draws skiers and others from all over the city. Include all its branches, and the system covers more than 13 miles of routes, making it one of the city’s main corridors for human powered travel in winter. It is half way through the cross-city Tour of Anchorage ski race in March, and hosts Fur Rondy and Iditarod sled dog racing.
Segments east of Goose Lake lead to Russian Jack Springs Park and Cheney Lake, or skirt the Alaska Pacific University campus to cross Tudor Road with connections to the Campbell Creek greenbelt and the foothills of Far North Bicentennial Park. At the west end of Westchester Lagoon are tunnels beneath the Alaska Railroad leading to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail—one leading toward downtown Anchorage and the other running along the coast to Point Woronzof and Kincaid Park.