What is best time for riding in Alaska?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    What is best time for riding in Alaska?

    Hi,

    I am from Europe and planning to arrive to Alaska for 2 weeks mostly for mountain biking. I would especially like to do Kenei trails (Lost lake, Resurrection, Cresent Creek,...). I have read the posts before and as I understand Jun or July would be the best.

    What date do you suggest to arrive to be pretty sure that snow will melt, but trails will not be overgrown yet. Also would not like to ride with thousands of mosquitos if possible.

    I have been climbing Denali before, but will be my first time mountain biking in Alaska.

    Thank for any advice on best time to arrive. I am very flexible regarding time, but need to book flights in advance.

    Bostjan

  2. #2
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    It is a fine balance and every year is a bit different but I would recommend the last 2 weeks of June. This should enable you to ride Russian Lakes and Johnson Pass without to much overgrowth and its late enough in the year that Lost Lake should be mostly snow free. Of course this is dependent on how big of a snow year it was and also how warm the spring has been.

    Mosquitoes, your ****ed when it comes to that. Ride faster is the only solution.

  3. #3
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    June is too early for some of the great rides like Lost Lake. Even the 4th of July (US Holiday) is sometimes on the edge as far as too early for Lost Lake, although there is undoubtedly other good riding at that time, as Lost is one of the last rides to get in the clear and by the time it is clear, a few of the other trails have already gotten a little too overgrown to ride.

    There are 3 kinds of terrain in Alaska, mountains, open water, and swamp. Be advised that trying to ride something too early will be trudging through snow, swamp, mud, etc. Even when the trails are rideable, some are still fairly wet and muddy in places.

    I'd suggest 1st and 2nd week in July. If Lost Lake isn't rideable, then Resurrection will probably be fine. Mid-month Resurrection starts getting a little overgrown, but not as bad as the "early" trails like Johnson Pass and Russian Lakes. Devil's Pass, aka Devil's Creek, links up with Resurrection and can also take into July before the avalanche runouts are free. There are a lot of steep chutes where the snow will pack in and be dangerous to try and cross (on Devil's). There might still be some options for the other trails in July, such as an out-n-back on Johnson from the Seward side, without going full into the crazy-overgrown. Iditarod Trail on the West side of Seward Highway that parallels part of the Lost Lake trail is a great section of trail too, not a whole lot of miles, but lots of smiles.

    Mosquitoes and bugs are hit and miss. They go through phases where early summer, there are a lot of blood suckers, then there can be flies, then later in the summer some of the bugs die down or are replaced by others, sometimes it's ok, sometimes it sucks. Usually moving on a bike it isn't nearly as bad as it is for hikers, but it can still be quite annoying and as soon as you stop, they go after you. DEET is recommended, although it's not the easiest stuff to work with (melts plastic). Most of us try to avoid it, but there are times when you need it. For these Kenai rides it's something to have in your pack, or some DEET wipes or something with the stuff at a decent concentration. Remember your bear-stuff too, bear spray and a bear-bell.

    Bottom line though, for the last 4-5 years that I've done it, July has been the best month for Lost Lake. They run a race the weekend before the 4th of July called the Kenai 250, where they ride ALL of the trails. They sometimes struggle on Lost Lake due to the snow, but it serves as a good report and more often than not, by the next weekend it's good to go. There are good trails to ride in June too, but that's more like Johnson's, Russian Lakes, Gull Rock, the early trails.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  4. #4
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    Jayem,

    July is too late. You are eliminating half of the epic rides on the peninsula if you wait that long. Lost Lake has been snow free all but one of the last 6 years by the solstice. The Kenai 250 takes place on or around the solstice which is two weeks prior to July 4th.

    Waiting until July eliminates Russian Lakes, Johnson Pass, and Crescent Creek. So all you are left with is Lost Lake, and Res Pass/Devils Pass. As great as those two trails are that is not two weeks worth of riding IMHO.

  5. #5
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    I would agree with Jayem that the first two weeks of July are optimal. Excluding this year, the previous five years are not a good representation of typical southcentral Alaska weather patterns. Waiting until early July allows the trails melt out completely and firm up. True that Johnson will be mostly overgrown by then, but one can't have it all (unless one plans to spend more than two weeks in the area).

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckymtbr View Post
    Jayem,

    July is too late. You are eliminating half of the epic rides on the peninsula if you wait that long. Lost Lake has been snow free all but one of the last 6 years by the solstice. The Kenai 250 takes place on or around the solstice which is two weeks prior to July 4th.

    Waiting until July eliminates Russian Lakes, Johnson Pass, and Crescent Creek. So all you are left with is Lost Lake, and Res Pass/Devils Pass. As great as those two trails are that is not two weeks worth of riding IMHO.
    Crescent is only 6 miles one way, by comparison, Res Pass is 38 miles, one way. Russian is rideable longer than Johnson and you can out-in-back for some good riding still. By comparison, you are gaining Resurrection Pass and Lost Lake in July, which are probably the best rides on the peninsula. You are possibly losing Johnson, but you gotta make a trade somewhere. Lost Lake>Johnson for me. If you here to do 2 weeks of riding, it's going to be hard no matter what you do, since we really don't have that many miles of trails, unlike Washington State and other places. It's not like we'll have more miles of trails open in June. Best idea is to try and hit the transition where Lost Lake opens up with no snow.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  7. #7
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    March

    All of the trails mentioned above are really good until July when they aren't because you can't see them anymore. Lost lake was a go in June last year, but not this year (I think). Winter riding however, is good almost all the time. 2 weeks worth of it, IDK about that, but I ride nearly everyday, and it's always good. No bush, no bugs, and mostly, no mechanicals.

    March has longer days, trails have had time to set up, some epics like the Knik Glacier, Spencer Glacier, are good and sometimes REZ pass even when snow machines are allowed over it. I haven't been on here in a while, and thought it could use my 2 or 3 cents.
    "Having lack of self-preservation makes biking more fun."

  8. #8
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    Right now!

    What is best time for riding in Alaska?-27067292_10101374496400388_3861071841338025354_n.jpg
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  9. #9
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    Any time before 2pm after that the sun makes the trails get soft in the afternoon.
    ptarmigan hardcore

  10. #10
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    So you're saying that bikepacking the Kenai 250 route around the third to fourth week of July would be a bad idea? Mainly due to certain trails being to overgrown to really be able to ride at all let alone enjoy it.

  11. #11
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    This morning was the right time to ride.


    What is best time for riding in Alaska?-g0098637s.jpg
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmoney View Post
    So you're saying that bikepacking the Kenai 250 route around the third to fourth week of July would be a bad idea? Mainly due to certain trails being to overgrown to really be able to ride at all let alone enjoy it.
    It's still possible, but take measures to avoid getting torn up by the vegetation, and it can be so thick you can't see the trail (Johnson Pass). Some of the vegetation is devil's club and cow-parsnip, the latter of which can cause severe blisters and scars that remain for months, it tends to not be as much fun outside of the optimal window. The Kenai 250 is a little early for just a couple trails, but obviously avoids most of the overgrown stuff. The Soggy Bottom is later and passable, but still some annoying plants-in-your-face sections and people got some serious blisters from the cow-parsnip.

    I had to turn around one year attempting Johnson Pass late, YEMV. It could have just been a bad section and gotten better later on. Depends on when summer "hits" too. I'd try to design some flexibility in your plans, that's probably best.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  13. #13
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    Well, that does not sound like a whole lot of fun. Seems like if I am going to do that route that the end of June / first of July is a better bet if I could make it work. Unfortunately, that just might not be in the cards this year.

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