• Little known trail a beautiful hike
By Christina Whiting
From a summer and autumn walk among hills overflowing with wildflowers to a winter and spring ski along winding trails, Homer’s Eveline State Recreation Site offers endless opportunities to explore.
A scenic, 30-minute drive from downtown Homer out East End Road provides spectacular panoramas of Kachemak Bay and the surrounding rugged mountains and glaciers. At Mile 13.8, a sign directs adventurers west on to Alpine Meadow Drive. The trailhead for Eveline State Recreation Site is .3 miles down this dirt road, where 80 acres of gentle terrain and a network of scenic trails await.
Owned by Alaska State Parks and managed by the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club, Anchorage resident Edmund Schuster donated the land in memory of his wife, Eveline in 1999. In 2001, the state designated the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club as managers of the area.
In 2011, the Kachemak Ski Club invested $6,000 in upgrades. During this same year, 1,606 people from eight countries and 29 states visited, and volunteers spent 255 hours maintaining and upgrading the area.
A picnic table and benches can be found next to the Glacier Loop trail, less than a quarter mile from the trailhead. An outhouse is located at the trailhead for ease of use, near the spacious parking lot.
Trail maps and a flower guide written by locals Carmen, Conrad and Eryn Field, are available at the trailhead bulletin board.
During the summer months when the flowers are in full bloom, the horizon is awash with color. Acres of wildflowers burst through the tall, green grasses and hug alders, spruce and birch trees.
In June and July, lupine adorns the hillside, offering a bounty of purple flowers. In July and August, the lupine fades and the fireweed bursts, covering the fields with hot pink buds on tall, leaning stems.
Also scattered throughout the area during the summer months are meadows of pushki, wild geranium, paintbrush, monk’s hood, columbine, chocolate lilies, forget-me-nots, valerian blossoms, watermelon berries and tall-stemmed larkspur.
In August and September, as summer ambles towards fall and the days slowly shorten, bright red elderberries sway on their branches in the afternoon breeze and the hot pink of the fireweed’s flowers begin to fade as the heavy stalks droop and bend. Blooming to the top of their stems, the fireweed flower hints at winter’s encroaching arrival.
A walk on the short Glacier View Loop presents spectacular vistas of the surrounding glaciers. Visible to the west across Cook Inlet are the Iliamna and Redoubt volcanoes, soaring over 9,000 feet from sea level. Visible to the east are the high alpine peaks, the Harding Ice Field and the icefield-fed Portlock and Dixon glaciers of the Southern Kenai Mountains.
The 1 1/3 mile Alpine Meadows Loop around the perimeter provides scenic views of rolling hills, Kachemak Bay and the Kenai Mountains. The mile long Alpine Loop allows for an easy walk amidst timothy grass that grows robust, leaning tall in to the sky.
Eveline’s expansive wild area is home to moose, black bear, porcupine, coyote, fox, red squirrel, mice, shrews and voles, though sightings of bear, coyote and fox are very rare. Also a refuge for birds, it is common to hear the calls of woodland and migratory birds echoing across the alpine landscape. These include Sandhill cranes, ravens, crows, eagles, grey jays, stellar jays, white-winged crossbills, snipes, siskins and chickadees.
Throughout autumn, as the once lush growth begins to ferment, leaves turn bright orange and red, flowers wilt and berries drop to the ground. The intoxicating colors and smells of fall often remain vibrant until mid November, when the first snow falls.
As autumn slides in to winter and snow accumulates on the landscape, Eveline becomes a mecca for backcountry winter wilderness exploration. Miles of both flat and hilled groomed trails crisscross vast territories of off-trail terrain that are perfect for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding and snow machining.
Several local mushers maintain and run their dog teams across the landscape, the raucous chorus of barking bounding across the open fields. The stalks of pushki’s hardy skeletons poke up through the snow, surrounded by the telltale paw prints of the passage of hares and weasels.
In the spring, Eveline offers direct access to thousands of acres of both wide open and through-the-trees crust skiing terrain. The landscape offers flat areas perfect for beginning skiers, as well as more challenging hillsides. Most years, the daily morning crust can be enjoyed through late May. So while downtown Homer celebrates spring with rain and mud, Eveline State Recreation Site remains blanketed by snow.
Cloaked in silence and surrounded by the pristine, natural beauty of Kachemak Bay’s mountains, glaciers and wildlife, Eveline State Recreation Site offers miles of solitude and beauty all year round, for locals and visitors alike.
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