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Pratt Museum trails provide delightful scenery

December 15th, 2017 | Taz Tally Print this article   Email this article  

The Pratt Museum Forest trails are a quiet and delightful set of trails easily and quickly accessible from downtown Homer. The five interconnected loops total only about a mile, but offer a variety of beautiful forested, meadow and stream channel environments.

This advanced second growth spruce forest has a lovely overstory canopy of integrated spruce and birch treetops and a complex and fascinating understory environment featuring a variety of platform fungi growing on old stumps and windblown snags, as well as a myriad mushrooms, ferns, mosses, and lichens. During hot summer days the forest and riparian environments offer cool respite, while winter hikes provide low-angle sunlight-streaked views through the forest and even a view all the way to Kachemak Bay from the Lookout Loop viewpoint.

At various times you may also find an array of art projects creatively incorporated into the trails. All seasons provide opportunities for viewing wildlife including moose, bear, squirrels, and a variety of woodland birds (this is a well-known birding location.) And along the South Loop Trail, look for the oh-so-cute, and very curious, pure white ermine.

Getting there

There are five trailhead access points to the Pratt Museum Forest Trails. The North-Wheelchair-accessible Loop, South Loop and Lookout Loop trailheads are located off the parking lot behind the Pratt Museum on Bartlett Street. A second wheelchair-accessible North Loop trailhead is found on Spruce View Avenue around the corner from the Pratt Museum.

The Pioneer Spur trailhead is located on Pioneer Avenue between the legislative offices and the Portside Coffee Shop. To reach the three main trailheads in the Pratt Museum parking lot, drive about 400 feet north on Bartlett Street from the intersection of W. Pioneer Avenue and Bartlett Street, and turn into one of two entrances to the Pratt Museum. Drive around back and park in the paved parking area. The North Loop-Wheelchair accessible trailhead is located at the back of the parking area next to the Sam Pratt carved totem pole and the True North Foundation funded trail guide. You'll find the South and Lookout Loops trailheads across the parking lot. All marked trailheads have trail maps to help you orient.

The trails:

Wheelchair Accessible Upper Forest Loop and North Spur Trail: Walk or roll along this 1/3 mile-long balloon-shaped trail through a canopied spruce forest, that leads you through an amphitheater meadow that is a wonderful location to pause and enjoy the sunlight and the surrounding forest. This is not a paved path but overall fairly negotiable by wheelchair. Just before reaching the amphitheater, you can turn right onto the North Spur trail that leads you past a cache of squirrel-generated pinecones and chips to the edge of the forest and the bike/walk path along Spruceview Avenue and then reconnects to the main trail and the Spruceview Avenue trailhead.

The South Loop Trail: Follow this 1/6 mile-long trail along a forested ridge line, past the Lookout Loop Trail, through a forest of spruce and birch trees and small meadow openings and then connect with the North-Wheelchair Accessible Loop Trail. Take your time and enjoy the beautiful understory communities here!

The Lookout Loop Trail: Access both ends of this 1/5 mile-long trail from the Pratt Museum parking lot. I suggest starting on the South Loop Trail, walk about 50 feet and turn left on the Lookout Loop Trail, which takes you along a forested ridgeline to a lovely meadow view bench that in winter provides a view of Kachemak Bay. From the bench follow the trail down slope to and along a quiet and beautiful section of Woodard Creek.

You can cross the bridge over Woodward Creek to enjoy a quiet rest on a streamside bench, located at the north end of the Pioneer Spur trail, next to the rushing stream channel, surrounded by riparian and forest environments. Look up to see and/or walk up to, the original Pratt building. Cross back over the bridge and climb the slope to complete the Lookout Loop.

Pioneer Road Spur: Walk 300 feet into the forest to and along Woodward Creek to the streamside chair and bridge to hook up with the Lookout Loop Trail.

Special notes:

These Pratt Museum forest trails are open all year long. While they are not actively maintained in the winter, they are kept open through use. During the winter, be sure to wear your grips because the trail can be icy. Hiking poles are always a bonus for stability and ease of walking.

Please keep you pets on a leash and clean up after them — pet potty stations are provided by Homer Animal Friends. These trails are maintained by volunteers, including the Coast Guard. Many hands make light work for all, so please contact Art Koeninger at building@prattmuseum.org if you'd like to volunteer to help maintain these lovely trails.

 

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