Lake ice, Nordic trail conditions improving

Saturday, December 9, 2017 - 22:21
  • A trio of ice fishermen try their luck on Mirror Lake Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017. (Star photo by Matt Tunseth)

Winter is here.

Ice fishing huts and Nordic ski tracks have recently started to appear around Chugiak-Eagle River, heralding the onset of true winter.

On Wednesday, Nov. 22, the municipality issued its first winter ice and trail status report. During winter, the muni measures ice thickness on several local lakes, including Beach Lake, Edmonds Lake, Fire Lake and Mirror Lake. The first report showed the ice on Mirror Lake at nine inches, with Fire Lake reporting eight inches, Edmonds Lake between five and seven inches and Beach Lake with six to seven inches of ice cover.

Early season conditions persists, and the muni urges everyone to use caution when walking on frozen lakes. According to the municipality, ice that’s four inches thick is safe to walk on and ice fish, but people should wait until the ice is at least twice that thick before trying to drive onto the ice. Ice thickness can be influenced by a number of factors, including weather, underground springs, vegetation, currents and even animals. Updates will be posted on the municipality’s website at muni.org.

Hitting the Beach

Skiers were out in force over the weekend at the Beach Lake Trails off South Birchwood Loop, which officially opened Friday, Nov. 17. According to Parks and Rec, the trails received 3-5 inches of new snow on Sunday and were groomed Monday.

According to an online trails report posted by the municipality, all trails are open at Beach Lake, which can be accessed during the daytime at a parking lot of Birchwood Loop and after-hours from Chugiak High via a tunnel beneath the road.

The trails are groomed by the Nordic Ski Association of Anchorage, which provides updated trail status reports for hundreds of kilometers of Nordic ski trails in the Anchorage area. Earlier this month, groomer Bill Brion said the cold temperatures in late October and early November were making for

For updates, visit the association at anchoragenordicski.com.

As of Monday, the Nordic trails at Eagle River High, Yosemite Drive and Mirror Lake Middle School had all been packed with a snow machine and wing, but rock skis and caution were recommended at all three locations.

The National Weather Service is predicting a mix of clouds and sun for the Thanksgiving weekend, with a 30 percent chance of snow Thanksgiving Day and chilly temperatures — highs in the teens, lows in the single digits — through the weekend.

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