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Gorge Creek Trail

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DENALI PARK, Alaska: The National Park Service (NPS) intends to evaluate the impacts of making improvements to one or more informal, or social, trails in the vicinity of the Eielson Visitor Center (Mile 66) and Eielson Bluffs. The 2006 Denali Backcountry Management Plan (BCMP) designates the possible construction of the Gorge Creek Trail as well as a trail "from the west end of the Thorofare Bluffs down to the Thorofare River Bar." The NPS is seeking public input about these two informal, or "social," trails.

The Gorge Creek Trail, which descends down to the Thorofare River from the Eielson Visitor Center (EVC), is a popular social trail with extensive rutting and an increasing array of additional parallel routes. Making a single route for the trail and rehabilitating these trail "braids" will improve visitor access and increase the trail's safety, as well as impede further resource damage. Improvements are proposed for approximately 4000 feet of trail.

The NPS would also like to hear from the public regarding these informal trails in the Eielson area:
· Near the west end of the Thorofare Bluffs, a web of social trails is located south of the park road at or near Grassy Pass (Mile 68). These trails include short trails along the ridge as well as a significantly eroded web of trails that descends to the Thorofare River Bar
· One significant social trail (~100 feet) has developed as a result of hikers approaching the Eielson Alpine Trail (across the road from the EVC) using the most direct route
· An informal trail, also across the road from the EVC , heading northeast across the tundra toward a nearby creek
· Additional social trail formation is occurring near between Mile 68 and 69, a common starting point for hikers accessing the Mt. Galen area

Proposed changes may include these responses to social trails as outlined in the BCMP:

- closure and rehabilitation of social trails

- trail maintenance and improvements to existing trail alignments

- new trail construction

Contact Information
Dan Ostrowski, Project Lead (907-683-9557)

Paula Homan, Environmental Protection Specialist (907-683-6223)