Supporting Ski Club’s Proposed Multi-use Trail
By Chelsea Holmes
Girdwood Trails Committee and our community have made great strides in developing and maintaining Girdwood trails. Recalling the limitations of some of our previous trails and witnessing our community on our trails, the value is clear to me. The trail experience has improved vastly since I was a kid in the 90’s.
While it is key to reserve some of our trails in their traditional, wilder, winding tracks, I have seen firsthand how maintenance and grooming increases accessibility, usage and the variety of ways a trail can be utilized. I vehemently support the addition of the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club’s (GNSC) proposed multi-use trail.
GNSC has built a 5-km cross-country ski trail that is truly world-class and maintains a volunteer base that grooms other trails such as Moose Meadows, Upper Meadows, and a loop at Girdwood Elementary School. The new trail is above and beyond expectations. The proposed building of a narrower multi-use trail will be a boon, not only to the skier, but to snowshoeing, dog walkers, summer and winter bikers, and adventurers alike.
Trail use in its many forms is a simple and, importantly, a free way to experience the outdoors. It supports and encourages a healthy lifestyle and a positive connection between the social and natural aspects of our valley.
The addition of a multi-use, 10-foot wide trail is “development” in the most benign sense of the word. It is not a corporation converting wetlands and forest into a golf course. This is an opportunity to increase community access and exploration of our diverse valley.
I love my solitude on the trail or in the woods as much as the next person.
However, I believe that drawing in visitors to the Girdwood Valley through day use activities will be an important part of our growth and sustainability as a community. Beyond that, I believe growth in our community is inevitable and ultimately the wisest option is to guide the manner in which it grows. We must be active in the process. Trails encourage just the sort of visitor and new community members. I would think we would like to be a part of that growth.
I am not advocating for the development of Girdwood into a faceless, commercial resort town. Girdwood’s beauty is in our mountains, meadows and forests. Our charm is in the friendly wave on a dusty dirt road and the familiar face of school parents whose livelihood is tied to local small businesses.
This new multi-use trail will prove to be a valuable asset to our trail system.