By Eric Troyer
Trip Location: Steese National Conservation Area, Steese Highway
Access: Two trailheads on the Steese Highway: Twelvemile Summit (milepost 85.5) and Eagle Summit (milepost 107).
Trip Date: Saturday, July 4
Trail or route conditions, wildlife sightings and any highlights from the trip: A little less smoke than in the Fairbanks area, which was nice. Too hazy for long views, though. Lots of songbirds as well as golden plovers and surfbirds. Also a few marmots. Many wildflowers. Trail is in pretty good shape, though the boardwalk on the Twelvemile Summit side could use some work. It’s still good enough to keep your feet dry. Shelters are in good shape and their cisterns are full. Small pools of water in other areas. Bugs got bad as the day warmed. Consider bringing a head net. I had a breeze much of the time, but often it was a slight one at my back. Just enough to keep the gnats swarming right in front of my face. But when the wind got stronger or changed direction, things got much nicer.
Tip: If you don’t have a car shuttle and you’re planning to hitch, remember that the Steese doesn’t get a lot of traffic. Plan to hitch at high traffic times. I did a bike shuttle in the wee morning hours and didn’t see a vehicle for more than 2 hours.
For more information see: BLM’s Pinnell Mountain National Recreation Trail