Ground Truth Trekking

2019 trail-building plans

Send an email to if you're interested to sign up! We will provide transportation from Homer or Jakalof, snacks, and tools. Participants are expected to bring their own breakfast and dinner, as well as their own camping equipment. If you don't often camp for multiple days in the back-country that's ok - we are happy to help people improve their camping skills!

May 28 to June 4 - Tutka Lakes to Tutka Backdoor link

The only road-access to most of Kachemak Bay State Park is from near Jakalof Bay outside Seldovia. From the Tutka Lagoon trail, hikers can reach the Tutka Lakes trail, which puts them within a couple miles of the start of Tutka Backdoor. In 2019, we hope to establish the link between these two, and our initial effort will be right after Memorial Day Weekend. We'll need to do everything from preliminary scouting, to surveying and flagging, to cutting, and some tread work. Though the straight-line distance is about 2 miles, the connecting trail will probably be closer to 4 miles long. If all goes well, the trail will be followable, but with minimal tread development at the end of this late spring outing. And we hope to squeeze in another outing in the fall to improve the most important pieces!

Trails near the head of Tutka Bay

The Tutka Lakes and Tutka Backdoor trails might be linked together in 2019. GET PHOTO

The Tutka Lakes and Tutka Backdoor trails might be linked together in 2019.

This will be a great project for people hoping to learn about trail building from the ground up. The ridge we'll be crossing is beautiful mixed alpine and forest, with several small lakes. Most likely we'll be a little in the snow, and hopefully we'll be out there before the bugs start coming out! For those of you with limited time, we will work to arrange transport to the head of Tutka for the weekend of June 1 & 2 - that end of the link is likely to be very near to the campsite, so we will have a logistical base there.

July 18 to August 4 - Tutka Pass

Once we have cairns in the pass, the trail will be continuous from the head of Tutka to the shores of Taylor Bay. This will hopefully be less than a week of work, but because it is in the most exposed portion of the trail, we will be wanting to pick our weather when we venture up. When the weather holds us back from the pass, we will work on the "Water Weenie Route" - a short section of difficult cliffy section above the river, where the trail needs some major work. Here we'll need to uproot a tree to build tread on a ledge, clear dense krumholtz and set stones for a few steps. Additionally there are other small projects ranging from a sign-post at the Swimming Lake, to stepping stones in muddy spots. Expect to have a lot of choices about what to do - especially if the weather is great!

For the first few days of this outing (July 18-20), one crew will work in the area of Lunch Mt. on some smaller fixes. This crew will be making improvements to small sections of trail that may otherwise lead to damage to tundra. This is a great chance if you like thinking like a gardener, and if you want to learn some more technical aspects of trail-building like trail psychology and rockwork.

Map of Tutka Pass

As of spring 2019, a 4 mile section in the pass is only a primitive route. GET PHOTO

As of spring 2019, a 4 mile section in the pass is only a primitive route.

Sept 21 to 29 - polish on link trail

For those of you who aren't able to get out in the summer - don't despair! We'll squeeze in one more trip at the beginning of fall, likely focused on improving the link between the Tutka Lakes and Tutka Backdoor trail. This will be especially important for the highest parts that may still be covered in snow when we finish up our early outing on June 4.

Full walk-through: Weather-dependent timing

We will also try to organize a fly-out and hike of the whole trail with some trail-work along the way. This will probably be about 5 days sometime after the beginning of July. We'll outline several possible time-slots, then decide whether to go for it based on the forecast a few days before. Tentative initial time-slots are July 13-17 (right before the main trail-work in July), and any 5-day timeslot in the second half of August. As it gets closer, we'll make an email list of people potentially interested in this trip. Each person will carry a couple tools and we'll prioritize trail-improvements as we go. Depending on how things go, travel costs may NOT be covered for this - so anticipate around $200 for air taxi and water taxi travel.

Cutting a brushy section

Trail crew work to cut through thick alder. GET PHOTO

Trail crew work to cut through thick alder.