Project Update - Upper South Fork Eagle River Trail


Upper South Fork Valley Trail provides access to Eagle and Symphony Lakes, the trail leads up valley providing excellent views of the South Fork drainage and spectacular views of surrounding peaks. It also provides access to the Hunter Pass and Hanging Valley trails.

Since the spring of 2007 the trails in Chugach State Park have undergone a Trails Inventory and Assessment Project. This comprehensive trail assessment and condition survey has provided State Parks with the appropriate data and mapping to thoroughly evaluate trail conditions for management purposes. The South Fork trail leading to the lakes has been identified as heavily degraded and with the involvement of the local community council has identified the trail leading to the lakes as needing upgrades.

As a result in early 2009 the Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation (DPOR) has been working with Alaska Trails and Interior Trails on a sustainable realignment of the Upper South Fork Eagle River Trail from the parking area (trailhead) to the lakes (Eagle and Symphony).

Upper South Fork Realignment Plan


Trail Design – Alaska Trails and Interior Trails

With the completion of the trailhead and parking lot upgrades, the sustainable trail realignment will be the final phase of improvements for the Upper South Fork Trailhead. There are few sustainable design trail alignments in Alaska and this trail will serve as a model for other trail realignment projects in Chugach State Park. The trail will mostly follow the current alignment as much as possible; however will be improved by avoiding wet ground and steep grades by following the sustainable alignment as designed by Interior Trails.

Trail Specifications- Upper South Fork Eagle River Trail, as specified by Chugach State Park Trail Management Objectives (TMO)
• Trailhead to footbridge over South Fork – Class 3 Terra Trail, managed use hiker; pack & saddle; bicycle.

• Footbridge over South Fork to Eagle Lake- Class 2 Terra Trail, managed use hiker; pack & saddle; bicycle.

• Please refer to the Chugach State Park Trails Management Plan of Trail Classifications http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/trailmgmtplan.htm

What to expect in 2011-

Trail Realignment Construction to begin summer of 2011
• Construction will take place to the second river crossing; near the talus field at the outlet of Eagle Lake

• Clearing of the new trail alignment will begin as soon as the contractor is available

• Ground construction will being no sooner than July 15th
      - Construction type as per Trail Specifications and specified TMO
      - Mechanized Sweco and hand crew to the South Fork bridge
      - Mechanized mini-excavator and hand crew after the South Fork bridge to the outlet crossing of Eagle Lake
      - The trail will be rehabbed after construction of original tread to bring it to the recommended TMO widths

• Trail Construction Oversight
       - Project Construction- Will be awarded to lowest bidder
       - Project Oversight- CSP: Blaine Smith, Trail Project Coordinator
       - Re vegetation and finish work on newly constructed trail- CSP: Trail Crew 4-5 people overseen by Trail Crew Leader

Other important information

The existing trail will be open during construction. Most mobilization will be done out of the Eagle River maintenance shop to minimize impacts to the parking area at the trailhead and surrounding neighborhood.

No trail work or improvements will be done to the Hunter Pass or Hanging Valley trails.

Trail and trailhead improvement will not encourage a fee at this trailhead.

The Department of Parks and Outdoor Recreation asks visitors to please follow all signage to ensure a safe work area.


DPOR will be attending the South Fork of Eagle River Community Council Meeting on December 2nd at 7:00pm in the Eagle River High School to present a Project Update on the Upper South Fork Trail improvements.

A short informational presentation will be given on the progress of the Upper South Fork Trail. It will be attended by Bill Luck, State Trails Coordinator; Tom Harrison, Chugach State Park Superintendent; Blaine Smith, Chugach State Park Trails Project Coordinator and Lucy Baranko, Alaska State Parks Landscape Specialist.