BAYCREST TRAILS STRATEGIC PLAN 2009 UPDATE * Approved 3/4/09
Meeting: Feb. 12, 2009
Dave Brann, Molly Brann, Alan Parks, Richard Burton
Additional input from Robert Archibald and Bruce Hess
EXISTING CONDITIONS – BAYCREST
Trailheads, Parking, Facilities, Signs, Plowing:
Lower Trails – Roger’s Loop Trailhead: Users park and access the lower Baycrest trails on Roger’s Loop. Parking is alongside the road. Plowing is done by the State. There is parking for 15 – 20 vehicles on the widened shoulder. Signs indicate the location of the trailhead. Outhouses are in the Homer Demonstration Forest 1/4 mile down the trail.
Lower Trails – Sterling Highway – DOT Trailhead: Parking and access is available on DOT State land at the top of Baycrest Hill, near DOT. This site was specifically purchased with STIP (State Transportation Improvement Project) funds for a skiing trailhead. There is parking for a large number of cars. It is suitable for buses and events. A large muskeg on adjacent Borough land serves as a stadium for events and access to the Diamond Creek City Park land. A storage shed, picnic table and signs mark this trailhead. An outhouse is rented when events require. The lot is privately plowed with occasional assistance from DOT. There is a sign on the Sterling Highway indicating this is a Nordic Ski area.
Upper trails – Sunset Loop Trailhead: There is a parking lot 2.1 mile from the west end of Diamond Ridge Road on a Borough owned parcel which is the future site of Diamond Ridge Emergency Services. The signed site accommodates about 25 cars. An outhouse is located in the parking lot. It is plowed privately.
Access points: There are additional neighborhood access points without parking in Eagle View Subdivision and on Sprucewood Drive in Mountain View Subdivision. Parking for about 5 cars is plowed privately at the Rucksack access point on Diamond Ridge.
Trails, Description, Ownership, Equipment:
The KNSC has developed and currently maintains a recreational winter ski trail system at Baycrest. When the entire trail system is groomed it encompasses over 35 kilometers (around 20 miles). Due to differences in elevation, trail and snow conditions often vary widely from the lower to the upper trail system. Some of the trail includes spectacular scenic vistas. These trails are primarily used for recreational skiing and school team practice. They are groomed for skating with tracks set for classical skiing when possible. The main loops and plowed trailheads are groomed first. Neighborhood access and connecting trails are groomed as time allows. No direction is mandated allowing the skier freedom to choose from a large combination of possible loops and connections. The lower trails are dog friendly. The upper Sunset Loop and the connector trails Awesome and the Far Side are dog free to the Midway crossing.
The Baycrest Trail system includes a 5 K signed snowshoe trail that is basically separate from the ski trails starting at the Roger’s Loop trailhead and following the summer Homestead Hiking trail for part of the way. This is maintained by the KNSC.
The summer Homestead Hiking Trail includes significant boardwalk trail sections. The Homer Demonstration Forest and the Land Trust manage the summer trail. It has trailheads at Roger’s Loop and Rucksack and continues to the City Reservoir. A Nature Trail, an Arboretum and a shorter hiking trail are also managed by the HDF. These trails make the HDF a popular summer hiking destination.
Land ownership on the lower trail system consists of a combination of State, Borough, City, and privately owned land. State Forestry owns the 360-acre Homer Demonstration Forest managed by the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District. The Forest is managed for educational forestry purposes with the understanding that recreation, including skiing, is a legitimate use. The Kenai Peninsula Borough owns smaller parcels, which are critical to KNSC access to the trails. The City of Homer owns 275 acres of Diamond Creek Park land purchased by the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust in 2007 and given to the city for non-motorized recreational use. Much of the Diamond Creek City Park and Homer Demonstration Forest is surrounded by private property. Those property owners are working with the KNSC to provide additional trails and access. In some cases conservation easements have been given which allow non-motorized use.
The KNSC has signed Memorandum of Agreements (MOA’s) with State, Borough and City officials, allowing us to manage ski trails on their property. These are temporary land use agreements, not permanent trail easements.
Formal agreements (MOA’s) are being signed with over 30 private landowners. Most have expressed an interest in granting written agreements (MOA’s) or long-term easements on their properties. Some trail location changes are expected as (MOA’s) are signed. It is a slow process because changes often require cooperation between neighboring landowners. The trails across private property are generally considered to be winter trails. Summer trail use, maintained by the KNSC, is anticipated in some locations as a result of landowner interest and preparing trails for early winter use.
Some Public Recreational Easements have been signed and filed with KNSC. The PRE, a result of HB 25 in 2008, protects the private landowner when allowing their land to be used for public recreation.
Three snowmachines are stored at private residences. One on the Sunset Loop and two on the lower trails. Rollers, drags and track setters are stored in both locations. A storage shed and a bulk gas tank are located at the private residences.
NEEDS ASSESSMENT – BAYCREST
Short Term Goals – Baycrest:
1. Trailhead – parking – access – plowing
a. Develop the DOT area for year round recreational use.
b. Secure property on Rogers’ Loop for trailhead parking and access.
c. Maintain trailhead and year round access on Diamond Ridge.
d. Provide access to snowshoe and dog-friendly trails from Diamond Ridge.
e. Improve access from neighborhoods.
f. Work with the City of Homer for trail development and maintenance on Diamond Creek City Park land.
g. Research alternate options for access and parking.
2. Facilities – Outhouses – Lighted trails
a. Install outhouse at Sterling Highway-DOT trailhead.
b. Improve facilities at Rogers’ Loop Trailhead.
c. Work with Diamond Ridge Emergency Services to improve parking and facilities.
d. Create a plan for outhouse maintenance.
3. Signage – maps – kiosks
a. Continue signage project to improve loop identification, private property and trail use information. Install permanent signs in cooperation with Homer Demonstration Forest and other landowners..
b. Update all maps in Baycrest system including all access points.
c. Build information kiosk for each trailhead.
d. Collect information to quantify and document how the trail is being used.
e. Install “SLOW – TRAILHEAD” caution signs on Rogers’ Loop
4. MOA – Permanent Trail Easements
a. Finish signing MOA’s with Private Landowners.
b. Plan for alternate routes if trail easements or permission goes away.
c. Encourage landowners to sign a Public Recreational Easement form.
d. Encourage Permanent Trail Easements with landowners.
5. Trails – Bridges
a. Upgrade a second bridge across Diamond Creek to handle heavy machines.
b. Use equipment to improve trails by ditching, leveling, and removing stumps to create wide, flat trails that can be used with minimal snow.
c. Expand the snowshoe trail system.
d. Remove hazard trees.
e. Mow all trails in summer and fall.
f. Collaborate with HDF, the City and private landowners to provide all-season trails in the Baycrest area.
a. Purchase an additional 4-stroke snowmachine. Have 4 machines available to allow for grooming the Marathon Connector Trail, trails at public schools, and the additional length of the Baycrest system.
Long Term Goals – Baycrest:
1. Trailhead – Access – Parking
a. Purchase land near Rucksack for parking and access.
b. Purchase land adjacent to the DOT parking lot to access Diamond Creek City Park or get permanent trail easement across Borough land.
2. Facilities – Outhouses – Lighted trails
a. Develop large parking area with lighting, warming hut, and equipment storage and maintenance facility.
b. Develop lighted loop with low-level efficient lights on lower trails.
3. Signage – Maps – Kiosks
a. Make trails permanent so maps and signs can be developed.
4. MOA and Permanent Trail Easements
a. Develop Permanent Trail Easements with public and private landowners.
5. Trails – Bridges
a. Build strong, wide bridges to accommodate heavy trail maintenance and grooming equipment.
a. Purchase ATV with tracks for grooming and year round use.
b. Hire operator and maintenance personnel.
c. Purchase piston bully