Traversing temperate rainforest, alpine tundra, wet meadows and towering mountain peaks, the Iditarod National Historic Trail explores the outsized landscapes that are found only in Alaska. The NFF is working to rebuild and connect sections of this trail to provide access to the history of this area and the beautiful scenery of the Chugach National Forest.
The Iditarod is a composite of trails established by multiple native tribes. During the gold rush era, the Iditarod became the main travel route for winter commerce between the towns of Seward and Nome. It provided access to trading posts, a mining camp, and other settlements founded between 1880 and 1920. The trail was used only in the winter when dog sleds could be used to travel over snow. Now a new effort seeks to establish the southern portion of the trail as a summer trail requiring extensive new trail and bridge construction.
This Southern Trek of the Iditarod parallels the historic route and will connect a series of existing trail segments with new trails segments, totaling approximately 120 miles. The Southern Trek starts in the town of Seward, traverses the Kenai Peninsula, and enters the Chugach Mountains east of Anchorage. This section of the Iditarod travels through the ancestral home of the Chugach Alaska and Dena’ina Athabascan Native people who used this land to trap, hunt and fish.
The work needed to construct the Southern Trek as a summer trail includes restoration of existing trail segments, building new trails and installing multiple bridges over streams that originate from snow and glacier melt in the Kenai Mountains. Once complete, the Southern Trek of the Iditarod will allow hikers to explore rarely seen sections of the Chugach National Forest while connecting the communities of Seward, Moose Pass, Whittier, and Girdwood.
The NFF partners with many businesses that are interested in improving the trails and other recreation areas on National Forests. Some businesses provide 1% or more of their profits to organizations to support good work for the planet through 1% for the Planet. On this project we partnered with Richie Graham Photography to highlight the work conducted by Alaska Trails, a grantee of the NFF, as their crew worked to reopen sections of the Southern Trek of the Iditarod Trail. Richie’s photographs are featured on this webpage.
We can use your help to make this trail a reality! Please consider a donation or developing a partnership with your business. Contact Patrick Shannon at [email protected] for more information.
Cover photo by Richie Graham.