The Dome Trail mountain biking Anchorage

The Dome trail is on the northern end of the Anchorage front range and a somewhat forgotten ride in light of the great Hillside trails built by STA.  That said, it’s still a super fun mountain bike ride, and a great choice for a more alpine-style climb/descent without having to leave Anchorage and the Chugach front range 🙂

Ride Logistics: 
NOTE: The ride is on Fort Richardson property so you have to buy a pass at isportsman website and sign in/sign out before/after your mountain bike ride.  You have to finish by 11pm and the pass costs $10.  When I signed in, it allowed me to add guests, so it looks to me like it’s only one pass per party required.  I was solo, however, so not an issue.  

The ride can start at the end of Basher Road, or a neighborhood off the Tudor/Muldoon transition.  If you put Klutina Drive into Google Maps it will take you right there.  There is limited parking at the access gate, however, so please do be mindful of the neighborhood and don’t give bikers a bad name!  

Don’t follow the Trailforks advice to start from North Bivouac as the bridge on the Bulldog Trail is closed for artillery practice.  I started from the Klutina Rd neighborhood because it offered a longer ride and more descent, and I was super glad I did!  I’d only ridden from the Basher Rd side in the past, and I liked the longer version a lot more!  Here’s my ridelog if it helps!   

This is what you’ll find if starting from North Bivouac!

The climb:
From Klutina Drive, stay on the main road-like trail as it trends left and then cross the big road when you find it onto the Bulldog Access Trail . . . this is where you enter JBER and need an iSportsmans check-in.  A nice singletrack takes you through the forest and gets a bit rooty but is all super rideable.  It drops you out on another road, which you ride for about ½ mile before a singletrack is found on your left.  The Dome Trail is not all marked and not that obvious, but I did recognize it as a potential and did a quick Trailfoks verification to make sure it was right!  

 

Once on the actual Dome Trail, it’s mostly pedalable and has some steep sections that some may push.  Much of the 3 miles on the trail is riding over to the actual ‘dome’ and it felt more cross country-ish that I recalled.  About a mile in, there’s an intersection with the trail coming from Basher Rd.  Take a left here and go downhill a bit before you begin climbing again.  

The lower section is super rideable both up and down!

The fall colors really don’t disappoint!

About 45 minutes in, the pedaling stops and the carrying/pushing starts.  The final steep section is quick travel, however, and I was at the top of the dome in just over an hour.  Near the top of the trail, there’s another junction – left will take you around and right will take you straight up.  Left is arguably a smarter option, unless you want to check out the steep section you may want to ride!  

As the climbing steepens, the views get better!

This is way steeper than it looks, but you can see how the dirt on the steep section will act like ball bearings!

The dome:
At the top of the trail, there’s a big cairn and more trails you can follow up to the next peak or along the ridge.  It didn’t look like super fun riding to me, and I was a bit cold in the wind and plenty satisfied with my climb, so I didn’t go explore more.  I think many do, however!  The views from this spot are pretty unreal . . . south to Redoubt/Iliamna and the whole Alaska Range were out in full force when I was there . . . plus the tundra in full colors – spectacular!  

Plenty of options to go higher if you please!

 

Volcano views south 🙂

 

Tordrillo views west 🙂

 

Denali & Foraker Alaska Range views to the north!

The descent: 
It’s fast!  I rode the super steep section off the top and it was very loose and rutted without much braking authority – I think I might go the mellower way around next time honestly!  After that feature, it’s steep and challenging but very rideable.  While there are no actual berms, the trail is built in such that a lot of corners ride with natural berms.  

There are not great sight lines, so it’s hard to see what’s coming next, which could be a real problem if the trail were more crowded!  I think the JBER element and the closed bridge are keeping people off, or maybe the trail has gotten less popular for the new options around!  

I thought the up/down section would ride slower than it did – as it was, I could carry momentum to clear most of the climbs with moderate pedaling needed.  The section after the junction (turn right if you parked at Klutina!) was actually one of my favorite parts!  Less steep + longer sight lines = more speed and flow.  This section totally sold me on starting where I did!  

This felt a bit wobbly for my liking, but there are some features built along this lower section for those interested!

Even with the pedal across the flats back to the car, the whole descent was around 20 minutes – way faster than I’d anticipated.

Summary:
Overall, the Dome Trail is a super worthy mountain bike ride!  It’s different than other Anchorage trails, a great challenge/workout in a reasonable amount of time (under 2 hours RT!), and offers stellar views!  While it’s very spicy off the top steep section, this part can be avoided.  The upper section is indeed steep and it’s not for every rider, though if you can ride the top section of Dig Deep or bottom of Eh-Line, then mountain biking the Dome Trail should be fine for you.  

If you like this trail report, check out the whole guide to Alaska biking!!!  Similar rides that are approx 2 hrs RT, are more climb/descent than cross country include: Crescent Lake, Ptarmigan Lake, Crow Pass, and lower Hope Point.  Ride on and enjoy 🙂

Ride Essentials

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