Part of Anchorage's Chester Creek Trail will be optimized for mountain biking this year, after voters approved funds for the task in 2018.

Rob Schmidt rides along the trail at least once a week.

"I've lived here for 31 years and fat-tire biking, personally, has revolutionized my ability to get out and enjoy the outdoors," Schmidt said.

The same is true for other fat-tire riders, which can make local trails a bit crowded. Soon, though, they will have their own path to follow: a new singletrack trail for mountain biking. It will run along sections of the existing Chester Creek Trail, from Valley of the Moon Park to Goose Lake Park.

"This is an area that is begging for help from the city, from all the neighbors here (who) are asking us to do something about it," said Anchorage Assembly Chris Constant. "One thing we can do is promote a positive use of this area."

Anchorage voters approved a $150,000 bond issue for the project in April 2018. Constant said the trail has recently attracted homeless camps, which an influx of cyclists might counter.

"We need more people positively using this area," Constant said. "I've heard neighbors say they no longer come here because they don't feel safe."

It's something Schmidt understands well.

"To see four or five people at six o'clock on a Wednesday, hanging around with an open bottle of whiskey in the middle of them, is something you don't want to see," Schmidt said.

Constant said the issue is still being addressed.

"The muni is working on this in a multi-pronged way," he said. "We have our Anchored Home Plan to actively and assertively house and provide additional overflow shelters for people so there is a place to go."

He and other also believe the new trail will help more kids discover new ways to play outdoors.

"You don't get this many trails in hardly any city of this size anywhere else," Schmidt said.

The new route will likely be travel by the end of the year.

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