New Ski Area Opens at Hatcher Pass
Government Peak Recreation Area offers trails for cross-country skiers
HATCHER PASS - For cross-country skiers, all it takes to fight cabin fever is to work up a sweat.
“Because of the cold temperatures and people stuck inside, it's like, okay we’ve got to get outside, we’ve got to go ski. We've got to do something. At least that's how I've been feeling,” said Megan Laselle from the Palmer High School Ski Team.
More than 30 teams of three hit the new trails Friday at the “Government Peak Recreation Area at Hatcher Pass.” It’s a project more than 20 years—and millions of dollars— in the making. The 10 kilometers of trails cost about $300,000. The mile-long access road and parking lot cost $3 million.
The first 10K of trails is just the first phase, and now that it’s in place, there are big plans for the park.
“Our next goal is to get lights over a portion of the trail system and then to try to expand it so we can host some larger races. The region high school championships, it's probably a little too tame for that right now,” said Ed Strabel, president of the Mat-Su Ski Club.
High school skiers and coaches say having a venue of that caliber so close to Palmer and Wasilla will be an advantage.
“This is really good for our training because it gives us a lot of hills which is the win or lose of the race. If you can do good on the hills, you can own the race,” said Laselle.
“For the Junior Nordics, which are kids 4 to 14, it will make a lot of difference because out here there's a lot of different terrain, so we have even terrain for the young kids,” said Mat-Su Junior Nordic Coach Dave Musgrave.
The goal is to create a park similar to Kincaid in Anchorage. Phase one of the project also includes lighting installation around the parking lot and trails as well as a ski chalet.
The Matanuska-Susitna Borough funded a large part of the project with a $6 million grant it got from the Federal Transit Administration.
The ski trails at Hatcher Pass are open to the public from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.