While most travelers only think of Anchorage as a pit stop, I already knew what I'd be doing once I get my bearings of the city back in my head. Two years ago I biked here and that's exactly what I'm doing again. Just a short walk from where I'm staying is Downtown Bicycle Rental. This being such a beautiful autumn day to enjoy the outdoors, I wasn't surprised to find I wasn't the only one renting a bike.
"Listen up guys", the grey-haired man at the bike rental shop began as 6 of us customers listened while he unfolded a trail map. "Since you all will be going to the same area, lemme just talk one time and show you what you'll expect on the trail which is currently being rehabilitated." He is of course referring to the famous Tony Knowles Coastal Trail - a favorite not only among cyclists but also inline skaters, joggers and those who simply love to walk.
|Map courtesy of Anchorage Daily News|
I watched this man highlight the trail map with a marker, noting detours and obstacles along the way. Soon a couple of bikers who've just completed their ride mentioned how they got to bike almost all the way to Kincaid Park - the trail's endpoint - despite the renovation work. It's a weekend anyway so no workers were actually doing any kind of work. "You just have to slow down at those barricades, squeeze in and then go for it again", was one of the rider's advice.
|Beware these mud flats! Someone actually died here last summer|
|Downtown Anchorage as seen from the coastal trail|
After paying $16 for 3 hours of rent (additional hours are charged extra after) and getting a supply of complimentary bike lock, helmet, repair kit and map, I was good to go. As always, it's completely exhilarating and liberating to feel that rush of cool air while on a bike - especially knowing I'll be on a trail as popular as the Tony Knowles. It wasn't long before I found myself right where it officially starts.
Past bridges, along rail tracks, through tunnels, along mud flats - the parade of scenery may have looked all familiar but they were all just as beautiful as I remembered them. Locals and visitors alike have been using this trail since it opened in the 1980s. It's only this year that repairs are being made. Just before reaching the Earthquake Park ( in remembrance of the devastating 9.2 magnitude earthquake which struck Anchorage in 1964) did I start seeing orange barricades with signs "trail closed" on them.
|One of the many cargo planes heading off to Asia|
|Reindeer burger. Really good.|
Past the runway is Point Woronzof with a spectacular view of Cook Inlet and the snow-capped Tordrillo Mountains. There's actually a turn-off close by where I could bike to a paved road parallel the runway for unobstructed views of airplanes taking off. My interest though at this point was seeing some wildlife as I was about to enter the more forested part of the trail. It took some time before I finally got to see a pair of moose almost hidden amongst the trees.
At milepost 5.5, things got rough as the trail's old asphalt has been completely removed. My progress was so hampered and thinking I wasn't supposed to be here in the first place, I decided to make a U-turn at this point. My ultimate quest to reach Kincaid Park has to be shelved when I hopefully get another chance to revisit Anchorage. As a consolation, I gobbled up on Reindeer burger back in downtown after returning the bike.