One of the central peninsula’s popular hiking spots is gwtting a little sibling, of sorts.
The Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is developing plans to install a multiuse trail near Ski Hill Road in Soldotna near refuge headquarters. At a public meeting Wednesday night, refuge Manager Andy Loranger said the goal is to keep that spot user friendly for as many people as possible, while minimizing some of the conflicts on the road and, if possible, linking with other trails.
“We want to think about what was brought by the community, by the borough and by many of you trail users about the concept of connectivity between the various trail systems in this great community. All of those things began to percolate as far as what we could do to meet those objectives, and so we started talking about this trail project as an alternative to walking on the road itself.”
“While we were out here, we had the surveyors capture data along the Sterling Highway, trying to find where an undercrossing (to Skyview Middle School) would fit. It kind of comes out right at the tennis courts at the school to get a high-enough fill under the Sterling Highway to punch an undercrossing through," said Reuben Johnson, with the Federal Highway Administration. He says the plan from the beginning was to keep in mind the possibility of connecting the Ski Hill trail with Tsalteshi Trails across the Sterling Highway.
Two million dollars in federal grant funding is available for the project, so the Tsalteshi connector probably won’t happen right away. The plan is just in the design stage. Two routes are on the table right now — one that would stay along the path of Ski Hill Road and a slightly longer one at 2 miles that would be less developed and set in the woods just off the road. You can leave written comments at the refuge visitors center Tuesday through Saturday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.