March 7, 2000
5 of 5
Every few months
Reviewed by: Shawn
Since I submitted the trail, I should add some details. Mileage points along the trail are added in parenthesis) The best starting place for this trail is to park at the junction of Chena Hot Springs Road (5 mile) and Steele Creek Road. Start by riding the pavement (or bikepath) north along Chena Hot Springs Road for approximately 1.9 miles to the junction with Amanita Road. Turn left on Amanita Road and begin a steep dirt road ascent for approximately 2-1/2 miles. The road has numerous junctions veering off, so follow the main road straight. After about a mile (Mile 3.0), you will come to the first main junction where the road wyes. Both routes go up fairly steep hills. Stay to the right. The road will get very steep requiring the use of your little chain ring. At the top you, continue straight ahead for approximately 1/4 mile and veer left onto a 4wd road gradually continuing uphill. You will pass a road junction on the left about 1/2 a mile up (Mile 3.7). Continue straight ahead. After approximately another 1/2 mile, you will veer left onto another 4wd road which again continues upward. After another 1/4 mile, the road will turn to the left (you will see an open clearing on your right) and crest the top of the hill (Mile 4.5). The trail will then begin going downhill. About 200 yards down the hill will be a sharp left turning onto a 4 wheeler trail. (If you go straight you will end up in a mosquito infested swamp). Turning onto this 4 wheeler trail (which is an old trapper trail), the trail suddenly gets a bit more technical (especially if it has rained recently where the mud can get horrendous) and you will begin to see some remote mining activity off the sides of the trail. you will continue on this trail for another 2 miles proceeding up a long hill, turning right onto a forrested ridgeline, turning left onto a fast and dangerous downhill, and then climbing again toward what will eventually be the end of Gilmore Trail Road. After approximately 1-1/2 miles (Mile 6.0) from turning onto this section of trail, you will come to a trail junction (the trail on the left is a recent bulldozed path made by miners doing core sampling in the area). Stay to the right trail. You will begin a gradual downhill for another 1/4 mile where you will encounter a sharp left hand uphill corner. Be sure to shift down prior to this corner or you'll be pushing uphill. The trail will proceed up a short steep section of trail for a couple hundred yards, then level out where you will encounter the other end of the recently bulldozed trail described earlier. Continue straight ahead for a short ways (~100 yards) to another junction. The trail will junction with a rough trail going straight ahead (uphill), a 4wd road going to the right (gradual uphill), and a 4wd road to the left (going downhill to ????). Turn right at this junction. The 4wd road will gradually climb around a hill turning to the left as you proceed up. After about a 1/2 mile, the road will begin going downhill for a short ways and exit onto a gravel road. (This is Gilmore Trail Road near it's end). Turn right onto this road. (Mile 6.7) You will encounter a major intersection after about a 1/2 mile. Continue to the left. (The road coming up from your right is part of the infamous Death Ride course where you emerge from the long, brutal climb out of the swamp.) The road will then begin climbing for another mile up to another trail junction. At this junction, you will turn to the right off of Gilmore trail Road and onto the old Gilmore Trail "trapping trail". (8.3) This trail section is a 4 wheeler trail that follows a ridgeline over toward Cleary Summit. This is a 3-1/2 mile section of trail that begins relatively flat and then enters a section of short little humps and curves that you can really have fun on. the lower sections of the humps usually have some water and/or mud in them making interesting obstacles. In this section after about 3/4 of a mile (Mile 9.0), you will encounter one junction, stay to the right (although if you go left you will just go over a small hill and meet the trail on the other side). After about 1-1/2 miles (Mile 9.8) the trail will begin to start going downhill again. Watch for another junction, and stay to the right (obvious route). the trail will go downhill and cross a large muddy (probably wet) area. If you stay on the left side of the trail, you can ride around the mud. The trail will continue downhill over some rough terrain for another 1/2 miles and then begin a steep climb (middle or maybe even little ring) for about 1/2 mile up onto a ridge (Mile 10.7). During this climb you will encounter another junction off on the right. Continue straight ahead. At the top, you might want to stop, take a break, look around, and enjoy the scenery of Alaska. But maybe not too long. The mosquitoes will eat you alive unless you've got bug dope. Continuing on, the trail will wind around the top of the ridge over rocks, logs, etc. The trail will encounter another trail coming from the right (the other end of the trail which branched off at the precious junction). Continue on the main trail toward the left where you will begin a gradual downhill where you proceed another 1/2 of a mile before you begin a modest 1/2 mile climb. Use you middle or little ring for this climb. At the top of the climb, you will exit onto a dirt mining road (Mile 11.5) Turn left on this mining road and proceed gradually downhill for about 1/4 mile. You will encounter a junction where a dirt road turns off to the right. Turn onto this road. There will be a sign describing this area as being in the vicinity of Fort Knox Mine. The mine is a large operating gold mine which is actually just over the ridge (to the north) from where this sign is. Proceed uphill on this dirt road (the view will be great) for about a mile (Mile 12.7). the road will pass next to a large radio tower. Turn to the left just before this tower and follow the 4 wheeler trail downhill. Be careful on this section, it is easy to go quite fast. About 100 yards down the trail will be a sharp right turn. Continue on this trail straight ahead for approximately another 1/2 mile. After crossing a section of significant mud, the trail will then gradually turn to the left (Mile 13.2). The next 1-1/2 mile of trail is usually fairly packed allowing you to cruise fairly fast. After a section of modest downhill, you will then climb a couple of short hills and then begin a short technical downhill section which usually has a muddy section at the bottom. After crossing the muddy section, you will encounter a wye (Mile 14.7). Veer to the right uphill. As you climb you will have a couple of vantage points of the Fort Knox Gold mine off on the right side. Continue straight ahead for another 1/4 mile (passing two minor trail junctions branching off to the right). The trail will exit onto a large dirt road directly under a large power line (Mile 15.0). This road is the old Fort Know Mine access road during the mine's construction. Turn left onto this road and proceed along it for approximatley one mile. The road will merge with another large dirt road which is the main Fort Knox Mine Road (Mile 16.0). Continue to the left on this road toward the crest of Cleary Summit. After a short rise and a fairly fast smooth downhill section, you will encounter the Steese Highway (paved) as it crosses Cleary Summit (Mile 17.0). Continue straight across the Steese highway onto the dirt road which heads toward Pedro dome. Follow this dirt road for 2 miles and turn left onto the dirt woodcutting road (Mile 19.0). Follow this road around the South side of Pedro Dome for another 1.3 miles and watch out for a quick left hand turn onto a steep, downhill trail toward the East (Mile 20.3). This trail is called the Silver Fox Trail and has seen significant mining activity (core sampling) over the last couple of years. Proceed down this steep trail (Be Careful). You will pass a trail junction on the right about 1/4 mile down (continue straight). After approximately 1/2 mile, the trail will turn to the left into a small cleared area where you will encounter another going to the left (Mile 20.8). Turn left onto this other trail. Proceed down this trail (gradual downhill) for a couple hundred yards (shift down) where the trail will turn to the right for a short uphill section. The trail will then crest and begin a steep downhill for approximately 2 miles. The downhill will begin going straight for about one hundred yards and then make a sudden turn to the right. The trail will then continue downward making several sharp left and right hand turns enroute to the bottom. You can go very fast down this trail section and you can can get very hurt a long way away from help. So Be Careful. Near the bottom, the miners have cleared the trail wider in recent years for their equipment so visibility is better, but the fun is reduced. About 1-1/2 miles down (Mile 22.3), you will pass a trail on your left (go straight) and then encounter another wye. Go to the left up a short hill. This trail will take you onto dirt roads which will carry you into a residential area. Stay on the main dirt road for the next 1/2 mile where you will make a bend to the right exiting out onto the Steese Highway (paved) (Mile 23.3). Turn right onto the Steese Highway (take a break at the Felix Pedro Monument just down the road) and proceed along the slightly downhill road for approximately 3 miles. At the next paved road junction on the left (Mile 26.3), turn left. There will be a sign indicating the prescence of the NOAA / NASA tracking Station. Proceed down this paved road for 1/2 mile and turn left onto the dirt road immediately before the Tracking Station gate (Mile 26.8). Follow this road up the hill, to the right and along beside the tracking station. You will have a great view of two of the large dishes that the Tracking Station uses. Stay to the main dirt road. Approximately 1-1/2 miles up (Mile 28.3) there will be a mining area with a sign that indicats the route to follow. Continue following this sign. There will be a creek crossing about 2-1/2 miles up with a road junction just beyond (Mile 29.3). Stay to the right on the main road. Another junction will veer off to the right 1/2 mile further on. Stay to the left on the main road. The road will then continue upward (this is a great big ring climb) for another 2 miles (Mile 31.3) where it will encounter the junction which you rode by earlier in the ride (at the Fort Know Mine sign). Continue straight ahead for about 1/4 mile, then turning right, onto the best 4 miles of the trail which you rode earlier. When you arrive back at Gilmore Trail Road (Mile 35.3), turn right and follow the dirt road for the next 1-1/2 miles. Use caution on the left hand bend in the road when you begin the second downhill do to the limited sight distance. You will encounter the pavement of Gilmore Trail at Mile 36.8. Continue straight ahead on this pavement for approximately the next 2.8 miles. There will several modest rolling hills you will climb on the paved road. At the top of the third climb, look for the road sign "Great View Lane" on the left. Turn left onto Great View Lane - dirt road (Mile 39.6). Follow Great View Lane a short distance straight, then again as it turns to the right and goes downhill. (You will be paralleling the Alaska Pipeline route) Approximately 1/4 mile down the hill, Great View Lane ends with two dirt driveways going into residences on the right and straight ahead. There will be a dirt trail going to the left onto the pipeline right-of-way and then turning right following the pipeline. Follow this trail. Further down the trail will go into the trees and follow a short detour around a gate. Continue through the trees. You will emerge from the trees back onto the pipeline right-of-way where you will proceed downhill crossing one dirt roadway (Use Caution)and then emerging onto a second roadway (Mile 40.9)which goes to the right and veers around to the left. Proceed around this roadway on the left (you will be leaving the pipeline right-of-way) until it turns into a dirt trail. The trail will begin going down a gradual hill, making a sharp turn to the right, and then dropping off a short embankment to merge with another trail coming in from the left (Mile 41.6). Proceed straight ahead at this junction going down a gradual hill for about 1/2 mile. Near the bottom, slow down. the exit (Mile 42.0) will be onto a dirt road and you want to insure that no traffic is coming or you may end up merging with a Four Wheel Drive Pickup. Turn right onto this dirt road (Juniper lane) and go straight down the hill and up the next for one mile to Chena Hot Springs Road (Mile 43.0). Turn right on Chena Hot Springs Road and roll up to your secondary vehicle and give your self a congratulations. you have just completed the Tour of The Mining Country course. If you finshed the course in less than a day (24 hours in Fairbanks in June) then you're probably really hungry. Bon Apetit
5 mile Chena Hot Springs Road at junction with Steele Creek Road
Other recommended trails in the same area:
Standard Creek Trail, Moose Mountain XC Course, Death Ride Course, etc.