Apr 16, 2013

MatSu College Trails - Hilly Loop

Saturday was one of those beautiful late winter days that gets you thinking about spring. As soon as I woke up and saw the sunshine, I knew I wanted to go for a walk in the woods. But then the wind picked up to the point that I was afraid it would be chillier than what I wanted to deal with.

But by late afternoon the wind had died down to a gentle whisper, so off I went. We are big fans of the MatSu Greenbelt Trails. You can access them from the MatSu College, the UAF Experimental Farm, Long Lake, Matanuska Lake or the Crevasse Moraine Trailhead. For a good map, you can visit this website.
There is also large maps at the trailheads with QR code that you can scan with your smart phone or you can use Google Maps. I do recommend you use a map though. The trails loop around and intermix so it's easy to get disorientated. The MatSu Greenbelt folks have also installed these sign posts at trail  intersections to help you find your way.
 At one point the trails near the MatSu College were used for teaching. I've done a post before on the arboretum on the trails from Snodgrass Hall.  Today I was walking on a trail off of the main parking area called Hilly Loop. And it's very aptly named...

 Along the way at some point in time someone dug these pits. At one of them there is still an informational sign describing the soils in the pit. You can click on the picture to enlarge it if you want to read the information. This is only one I could find that still had it's informational sign up and it's probably a miracle that it's still there after all these years.
Some one even built a little shelter over this pit. I'm assuming it's maybe to prevent erosion in the pit. The writing on the all there says "Oxygen Production Zone." This pit sits on top of a somewhat steep hill so by the time you get there you are suckin' wind pretty good...
And old pits and teaching tools is not all that  I found today. This old Hires Root Beer can was up under a log. I don't remember that last time I had a Hires, but I remember them being really good. I started to pick it up as litter, but it seemed appropriate to leave it there.

 At the half way point of Hilly Loop is the short side trail to Okeson Pond. I'm assuming that it get it's name from a Mr. or Mrs. Okeson, but I couldn't find any information to confirm that.
The bench that makes me want to sit and just enjoy the sun for the a while, but it was getting late. In the summer it would be great place to come and read, as long as you brought plenty of bug dope.
 There are some beautiful views from along the trail. This is looking up towards the Knik Glacier. You can also see the top of the Butte from here. This view spot is only about two tenths of a mile in, so its a fairly easy walk.
 And there's a great view of Pioneer Peak. This mountain dominates most views in the Valley, rising almost 6,400 feet. It was named by the children of the Matanuska Colony in honor of the early pioneers of Alaska.