Turnagain Pass INHT mountain biking

Mountain biking the Turnagain Pass Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT) between Eddies parking lot (MP 72.5) and Center Ridge is the  newest classic must-do ride on the Kenai Peninsula.  The trail traverses the lower slopes of the popular ski terrain on Tincan and Eddie’s mountains, and is fabulous resource to enjoy Turnagain Pass in the summer!  

At 6 miles each way, the ride is a great out-n-back from Eddies or a nice shuttle assist one-way from Center Ridge.  The 12-mile out-n-back is about 2300 ft elevation gain/loss and about 2.5 hours total riding (1.5 hours Eddies to Center Ridge, and 1 hr Center Ridge to Eddies).  The trail is not at all technical (roots/rocks) so is accessible to all levels of riding with good fitness for climbing!  While smooth, it is quite fun and very scenic – a totally worthy ride!  The climbing isn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s all rideable and worth digging deep to clear it all if you’re into that sort of thing 🙂  The trail is in great shape and with the addition of 2 bridges in 2021 can finally be ridden without sketch river crossings!  With the bridge openings, the NFS has also cleared brush and improved drainage on the trail, so the whole ride is in great shape!

Eddies to Center Ridge: the “uphill” section of mountain biking the Turnagain Pass Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT)

The trail starts out super nice and wide and stays in great shape all the way.  The first 3.5 miles is a steady uphill with consistently punchy sections that make the first hour a proper workout!  This section of trail stays in the woods so there aren’t many views.  At about 3.5 miles in, the trail emerges into the river valley south of Eddies Mountain and views of the Eddies south face and Tincan open up – it’s so lovely!  The next 2.5 miles to Center ridge start with a steep climb with 2 switchbacks (similar to the ones on lower Devil’s Creek) and then the terrain becomes rolling along the base of the Todd’s and the Tincan west face.  This section of riding is super enjoyable and lovely!  Finally, a quick descent to Center Ridge and you’re there!  The trail continues about 0.5 miles to Lyon Creek and essentially “ends” for all but the most adventurous!  

Eddies has never felt steep to me until pedaling up it! The forest is nice though! This section would probably stay decent in moderate rains 🙂

 

Yet another short punchy section – sooo fun on the way down though!

 

The new bridge over Ingram creek is a game changer for both summer and winter!

 

The trail from Eddies consistently winds uphill through the forest at the base of Eddies Mountain.

There are some decent recovery sections between steep sections!

 

Maybe Heather Johnson’s smile is because at this point she’s done most of the climbing . . . or maybe because she has no idea the steepest section is next up!  Or maybe she loves this new bridge!!!    Photo: Natsuko Ito

 

Center Ridge to Eddies: the “downhill” section of mountain biking the Turnagain Pass Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT)

Starting out with a brief climb, including punchy sections the trail then transitions to rolling terrain at the base of Tincan.  Views of Turnagain Arm and upper 20 Mile River abound and this is one of the loveliest sections of trail.  About 2.5 miles in and the fun begins!  A descent to the bridge over Eddie’s Creek (on South side of Eddie’s Mountain) is followed by a short and steep climb out and then there’s a fast and fun downhill section to the new bridge across Ingram Creek through the forested section.  Rolling terrain follows this bridge to the parking lot.  Skiers may find this section of trail super fun (I sure did!) because we ski it all winter and it feels so similar while being so different – such a cool experience!  

The Tincan meadows are really pretty . . . and it’s fun to look up at Todd’s run 🙂

 

Heather Johnson making it look easy!   Photo: Natsuko Ito

 

Heather Johnson starts the descent to the Eddies Creek bridge . . . the final punchy climb is just off her left hip before the most continuous downhill section begins in the forest beyond. Photo: Natsuko Ito

 

Looking out Turnagain Arm and Upper 20 Mile River from the top of the switchbacks     Photo: Natsuko Ito

 

Heather Johnson crossing the Eddies Creek bridge . . . so fun to see the Eddies South Face in the summer!  Photo: Natsuko Ito

Overall, mountain biking the Turnagain Pass Iditarod National Historic Trail (INHT) is super worthy . . . it’s great to have a resource to enjoy Turnagain Pass in the summer!  In 2.5 hours, one could do an out-n-back or 2 shuttles from Center Ridge to Eddie’s . . . both are totally worthy!  While a net elevation loss from Center Ridge, it’s hardly a DH (decent pedaling required!) but the views are better and DH more plentiful!  In 2022, bridges will be built over Lyon and Taylor Creeks, but the bridges for Spokane and Bertha Creeks need ~$500k of funding that’s not currently in a budget.  Once those bridges are built, the trail will connect 12 miles from Eddies to Johnson Pass, and make for a nearly 40 mile through ride between Eddies and Moose Pass!  This trail is part of a larger effort to restore and  develop over 180 miles of the Southern Trek of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, connecting the communities of Seward and Girdwood, Alaska.

 

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