Click on the pic for a better view.
Middle Fork Loop is one of the best winter rides in the Anchorage area. On a sunny day in late winter, when the trail conditions are prime, it has all the ingredients for an epic afternoon.
It's reached after a long, sustained climb into Chugach State Park, then runs across the mountains with great views of the Anchorage bowl, Cook Inlet and Mount Susitna. Even Denali, on a good day. And the descent will put a huge, shit-eatin' grin on your face.
The problem is that Chugach State Park's management plan doesn't address mountain biking, and certainly not winter mountain biking, so we're still treated as second-class citizens by park managers. We have to beg, borrow and steal to use some trails.
Fortunately, we have winter access to Middle Fork again with special-use permits issued to fat-bikers this season. (Last year, after two or three seasons of permits, we got the shaft and were shut out of Middle Fork.)
Yes, you have to own a fat bike for this ride. Although trail conditions are sometimes suitable for regular mountain bikes, the special-permit rules specifically require fatties. According to the rules, "A Fat Tire Bike is defined as a self-propelled bicycle created for cycling on soft, unstable surfaces. The tire width is 3.5” or greater and tire pressure is less than 20 pounds per square inch ground pressure."
Get a permit and treat yourself to a ride on this trail. Or get a permit just to show state park people that we're here, we're not going away and we want fair access, regardless of how many Nordic skiers don't like to share.
Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Give them your name, mailing address and email address, and tell them you're requesting a fat-bike permit for Middle Fork Trail.
That's it. That's all you have to do.
Within a few days, they'll email you a permit that you can print and attach to your bike when riding Middle Fork.
Be nice. Follow their rules and don't shred the trail. Try not to be a dick, no matter how many grumpy skiers scowl at you.
Then maybe, just maybe, Chugach State Park officials will someday learn to accept us as legitimate trail users who don't need a "special permit" to use our park.