Government Peak Recreation Area gets wheelchair-accessible trail
The Government Peak Recreation Area (GPRA) in Hatcher Pass is getting its first wheelchair-friendly trail.
The goal is to increase access for more Alaskans, like Amy Schooley, who is paraplegic. She wants to get out to explore Alaska but can’t usually find trails that will accommodate her wheelchair.
“I see on Facebook or Instagram everybody’s pictures of going hiking and all that stuff and it’s something that I yearn to do, I would love to do,” Schooley said.
Roy Wahl is a friend of Amy’s who saw the need for more access for people with mobility issues. He pushed to get the new trail going in GPRA.
“It will be a wonderful experience for older folks like me who are not as spry as we used to be. It will be nice for young families with strollers and folks who are physically challenged,” Wahl said.
The Valley Mountain Bikers and Hikers group is the nonprofit organization working to secure the funding.
“For the most part it’s going to follow the existing Pioneer Loop ski trail,” explained board member Cody Johnson.
He said the whole project is expected to cost about $34,000; most of that has been paid for by grants form the Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation.
“Something like this has broad community support and really serves a group that’s been ignored or overlooked for a lot of the trail work we have here,” Johnson said. “Something like this is such a great benefit to the community and opens a lot of doors for groups that haven’t been able to get into the wilderness.”
For Schooley, it’s a chance to finally explore her own backyard.
“It’s an honor and awesome feeling to know that this is going to happen,” she said.
There will be gravel raking work parties on Thursday, Aug. 29 and Friday, Aug. 30 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Volunteers are asked to bring their own lunch but snacks and hand tools will be provided.
A grand opening for the trail is scheduled for Oct. 5.
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