Bikers can ride the Salmon Creek Reservoir Access Road into a forested valley not far from downtown that is the site of one of Juneau's older hydroelectric operations.
Originally built in 1914 as a tramway to haul men and supplies up to a construction site for the dam, the Alaska Gastineau Mining Co. used the trail as a source for hydroelectric power for its operations at six miles south at Sheep Creek.
The dam stands 175 feet tall and 645 feet long across its crest. The concrete base is 47.5 feet thick and narrows to 6 feet at the top. It is one of the largest variable-arch dams in the world. The primary use of the dam today is to power the plant at the beginning of the trail. The 3 mile long road was built by AEL&P to access the upper powerhouse (no longer in use) near the base of the Salmon Creek Dam.
Much of the water ends up getting used by the city for drinking water. The remaining water is used by DIPAC, the local fish hatchers, or released back into Gasteneau Channel.
Trail DescriptionFrom the trailhead across from the fish hatchery, ride on the dirt road up the steep hill behind the powerhouse and adjacent to the hospital. Although the first hill is lung pumping steep, it is easy riding once at the top as the road basically levels out through a beautiful, narrow valley with Salmon Creek cascading below.
Shortly before the end of the road at a lower 'natural' resevoir, a one mile long single track leads visitors to a steep hike at the base of the dam. Bikers can catch a glimpse of the dam (as pictured) or choose to ascend another 150 meters of trail and something like 900 stairs to the crest of the dam. At the top, there's a great place to take a rest, munch on snacks, sip beverages, and enjoy the spectacular view of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Along with Montana Creek and Windfall Lake trails, the Salmon Creek Reservoir single track is right up there in the top three toughest technical trails in the Juneau area. Littered with rocky sections and worn down, century old railroad ties, this trail tosses riders off their bikes in every direction; side to side and forward slams are the norm. Riders utter umffs and grumps under murmuring curses in several of these sections ego says to try and ride. And don't be surprised if bruises appear within a couple days.
Still, the trail is a great ride. One can count over a dozen varieties of mushrooms and various flowers bloom throughout the changing seasons. It is magnificant to delve into this visual wonder.
Coming out is a hoot, too, with berms on the side of the dirt road for pulling jumps. Riders blast up to speeds of over 40 mph while descending the initial hill.
Classic, for sure!
Getting ThereThe trailhead is behind Alaska Electric Light and Power Co.'s powerhouse at mile 2.5 Egan Drive. Coming from town, turn right just past the end of the long retaining wall beside Egan Drive. There is room to park your car near the trailhead. Bike riders may reach the trailhead via a walkway extending from the dead-end section of Glacier Highway that is above Egan Drive or along the bicycle trail running parallel to Egan Drive from the Salmon Creek intersection. Bartlett Regional Hospital is just north of the trailhead and local buses stop at the hospital regularly both northbound and southbound.
Web Links To A Cool Map and Old Brook Trout Storyhttp://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=22995
This link has a cool picture of the dam under construction!