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AK Bike Routes

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PinkFatBike:
There are several road trips that are very do-able and extremely scenic, but not well publicized.
1) The Denali Highway between Healy to Paxson is a 3-day, 350 mile route on a gravel road. Incredible scenery, very little traffic, no facilities, camping required.  Best with a support vehicle.

2) The Fireweed400 race route between Sheep Mtn (mile 110 on the Glenn Hwy) and Valdez is 200 miles on a paved 2-lane highway with very good shoulders and very low traffic.  Again, stupendous scenery including a glacier, raging river, waterfalls, and a big mtn pass.  Plenty of roadhouses and one town along the way.  Check out the race's website.  Their 2-day touring event is supported by aid stations, you really don't need a support vehicle.  You can return to Anchorage via ferry to Whittier, pay someone to get you through the tunnel, then bike back to Anchorage.

Biking to Sheep Mtn from Anchorage would be possible except for a 10-mile stretch of shoulder-less highway that, in my opinion, is extremely dangerous (hilly, no sight distance, high traffic volume).  If you have vehicle support to transport you over this portion then you have a great trip ahead of you.

3)  You can extend the trip to Valdez by continuing on to Cordova by state ferry.  The ferry arrives in the evening, so for the first night, stay in a B&B in Cordova (recommended) or camp on the beach (not the nicest).  If you are really organized, you can rent the US Forest Service Cabin at mile 20 for the first night.  Bike on the Copper River Highway ( a gravel road with almost no traffic) to the very clean and relatively new US Forest Service campground.  It is located on the Copper River opposite a glacier that calves throughout the summer - spectacular.  You can bike across the old railroad bridge (now pedestrian only) 20 more miles until the railroad right of way disappears into the brush.  Return to Anchorage via state ferry.

4) Get on a plane and fly to Nome.  From Nome, there are 3 gravel roads emanating outwards into the beyond.  Carry as much food as you can on your bikes, camp on the beach or tundra or river banks.  Bug repellent required.  Return to Nome for re-supply, then do another road.  You practically have the back country all to yourself.

5) From Anchorage, bike to Denali National Park along the 2-lane highway with good shoulders and moderate amount of traffic.  Camping at pullouts will be required, towns too far apart.  In the park, bike as far as you can on the 80 mile gravel road.  No supplies in the park.

Of course, all these bike routes come with endless sunlight.  However, our weather can be cold and wet.  Bear encounters are possible in the more remote areas such as the Denali Hwy, Nome, and Copper River Hwy, especially at the rivers during salmon spawning seasons - bring bear pepper spray and study up on bear avoidance strategies.

I hope these ideas inspire you to come on up !

janetanorth:
i'm from fairbanks and this is perfect advice! get out there and pedal our wonderful state.

waynemyer:
Zombie Thread! Thanks for advice PinkFatBike. I am planning on a three-week Alaska tour in 2013 and this was Anchorage to Denali is exactly a route about which I was wondering.

LawDog:
Good post. I've biked the Fireweed, and that stretch of road between Sheep Mountain and Valdez is biker heaven. The only thing that can diminish your spirits is the amazing headwinds coming at you on the way south to Valdez. Those ~10 miles along the cliffs  on the way to Sheep Mountain (that are not safe for a cyclist) would be fabulous on a bike if only you didn't have to worry about cars. I'd love to hug those curves at 30 mph on the downhills.

I've driven across the Denali Highway, and very much want to return to ride it by bike. For a really long bike tour, you could ride from Valdez, up through Glennallen, on to Paxson, then take the Denali Highway west to Healy, and then head south back to Anchorage from there. That would be a glorious route, but you'd better have a lot of vacation weeks banked or be retired.

I had never considered Nome. I'll have to look at that as a possible destination.

I also want to figure out how to island hop along the southeast by ferry. Our marine highway system isn't very clearly organized, so organizing such a trip seems to require great logistical feats of planning.

I recently found myself in Unalaska for a few days of work, and I think it would be a really interesting place to mountain bike. There are less than ten miles of road, but several gravel trails lead out across the island. There are no trees and the vegetation is low and easily traversed. You probably wouldn't want to pedal across the delicate sections of taiga, but you could walk short stretches until you found a path again. The island is littered with bunkers that are left over from WWII, which could make for interesting shelter if a storm rolled in. (Which happens a lot out there.) I don't think Unalaska/Dutch Harbor is really a prime cycling destination. But if you are ever headed there for other reasons, I think it could be a really neat place to explore by bike. If you go, my recommendation would be to buy a low-end mountain bike (maybe $300-400 bucks) and sell it there before you fly out. Lots of people in Dutch Harbor get around by bike (or by simply walking), but the bikes are old and crappy and sell for far more than they are worth. (You'll see POS Huffys and Next bikes going for $200 to new cannery workers.) There is no bike shop on the island.

jamawani:
Support vehicle ?!?!?!?
I'm shocked!  Shocked!!

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