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TheTreadwell Ditch: A Trail Of Stories

TheTreadwell Ditch: A Trail Of Stories

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TheTreadwell Ditch: A Trail Of Stories

Page Type: Trail

Location: Alaska, United States, North America

Trail Type: Cross Country, Mountain

Technical Difficulty: Hard

Aerobic Difficulty: Hard

Layout: Point to Point

Elevation Gain: -500 ft / -152 m

Length: 14.7 Mi / 23.7 Km

Route Quality: 
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Page By: junodirtrider

Created/Edited: Nov 12, 2009 / Nov 18, 2009

Object ID: 273238

Hits: 6188 

Page Score: 81.84%  - 14 Votes 

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Treadwell Ditch Overview

1 Looking Up At Eaglecrest
The mushy peatbog muskegs
2 Muskeg Meadows At Head of Ditch Trail
near the Eaglecrest
5 Good Night!!! No Trail!!
Ski Area trailhead
3 And Ah-way We Go...
make a great start
4 Looking Back At Eaglecrest Ski Area
to a wild adventure!

Once a bustling water transit system for a handful of vital hydroelectric facilities associated with the Treadwell Mining Company back in 1882-1899, this National Register eligible historic property was the jewel trail works project for the Forest Service and City/Borough of Juneau back in the 1980's. Unfortunately, the popular recreation trail has mostly gone the way of history and seems utterly neglected since then. Bridges are merely shambles of original works, or as so often the case, washed out completely while plastic culverts have only increased trail erosion in numerous locations. One section of trail is so bad, there is a temporary 0.4 mile detour where a scratch route wanders up through muskegs and is only visible by pink flagging when it snows. After seeing the trail firsthand for potentially the last time, my recommendation is for bridges only and no more plastic culverts. Let erosion take its toll, yet extend the crossings far enough to where hikers and bikers will not be affected.
Some Of These Have Been Down A While
Aesthetic Moment On The Trail
Rollin  Away Through The Dew
Working Out The Treadwell Way
Green Frost-like Mossy Forests

Trail Description

First of all, I would like to dedicate this trail to my wife because without her dropping me off at Eaglecrest Ski Area, this ride would have not of taken place. Thanks, Shana!! :)
Trickle Waterfall In Major Washout
Trail conditions
9 Typical Tragedy Waiting To Happen
on the ditch are
6 A Quality Renovation Job
as variable as
8 A Look Back In Time
local weather,
Back On The Main Ditch Trail
except they change
A Pile Of Rockslide In The Trail
quicker on the trail.

"The Ditch" is a historic trail located on Douglas Island that begins at an elevation of 950' in the Fish Creek drainage in the muskeg meadows 1.1 miles SE of Eaglecrest Ski Area. The ditch and trail trend NW for about 2.75 miles along the SW facing slopes of Saddle Mountain and Mt Anderson before meandering S/SW towards Douglas and gradually descending to an elevation of 450' above sea level. That equates to a consistent 7/10ths of one percent downward gradient from beginning to end. At one time, this fully functioning flume served water and hydroelectric projects throughout the area. From tent cities to pump stations and power plants, this puppy was the vein that all others tapped for water and energy.
The Steepest Drop I Have Found Yet In Juneau
It is for your health
Severe Dropoffs Are Also Commonplace
that we recommend all
Let Me Be Frank!!!
riders to keep to the
Can I Make The Point Any Clearer?
uphill side of the trail
Where s A Falling Rock Sign When You Need One?
to stave off bodily harm.

Descending the ditch trail will tap your energy resources too. The ditch is brutal and I would not be off my rocker to guess that I had to hop off and hike my bike over 100 times, covering a distance of about two miles overall. The trail parallels uphill slopes the entire way, so the must be on constant guard not to slip off the downhill side of the trail out of control. That could be potentially devastating, especially for solo riders like myself. But the trail is so demanding that strength dissipates and the front or back tire slips off the trail dozens of times causing the rider to either skid or slam to a stop, therefore hindering a worst scenario from happening.
Interesting Mumbo Jumbo Here
More than not,
Controlled Chaos
it seems like
Anceint Castle Stump
destruction crops up
Natural Destruction Is Just Ahead
around every bend
Geez! I Sure Hope It Doesn t Strike Twice!
of the trail!

My worst situation occurred when my front tire got stuck while trying to turn uphill. Momentum threw my body weight backwards, headfirst, in a clockwise spin toward the downhill side of the trail on my left. In an attempt to hinder the fall, my left arm reached out and grabbed the only thing within reach, a six inch thick tree on the left hand side of the trail. My left foot stepped off into the abyss as my right leg flung off the bike like a roundhouse karate kick. Lastly, I never let go of the bike's right hand grip and so, it too, tail-whipped off the trail in an effort to careen down the mountainside. Perfectly safe, I regained my footing, pulled the bike up onto the trail, and reset myself to ride off again.
Zipping Around A Bend
Still, we just
Wooden wheels
keep on rolling
Where Sitka Spruce & Carbon Fiber Meet The Trail
never knowing
This Picture Was Brought To You...
what's gonna come
Coming Into A Turn
our way.

Dirty rock piles litter the trail and are apart of a rubble berm that supported the original flume. Root systems splinter the trail and seem to be the most difficult and constant hazard, but wash outs and other trail irregularities seem to exist around every bend! Thankfully, all downed trees that fall across the trail are logged out in the early summer season. Two avalanche zones force riders to walk their bikes for a minute or so, but besides that, there is one crossing that is a 15 foot balance beam only six inches across!! At 10 feet above the ground, this is as sketchy as it gets anywhere. I chose to inch my way across the wet and slippery log with my bike in my right hand while I attempted to document the crossing with a picture from my left. "What am I thinking," I remember thinking to myself. Well, what can I say? I love mbpost.
Odd Flume Features
These are a few
Odd Flume Features
of the really far
Figments of Yesteryear...
out flume features
Odd Flume Features
along the side of the
Odd Flume Features
Treadwell Ditch trail.

There are numerous natural and historical interests along the trail. Alder, birch, and spruce groves forest the mountainsides and beneath them, an amazon of vegetation. Devil's club, salmon berry and false huckleberry bushes, bunch berry, mosses, and other tangle for the right to live. An old mine shaft enters the mountain right off the trail, there are several nonfunctional dams, a monster boulder known locally as "the wall", and several cross trusses that span the ditch are but a few of the features that continually beckon ones interest.
Remarkable Old Ruins
Just taking a short
One Of The Originals!!!
break to warm up
Hot Tea... Good As Gold!
with some tea and
Flooded Mine Shaft On Treadwell Ditch
chocolate and be thankful
Jacob Abandoned This Ladder...
I did not live back then.

Getting There

From downtown, cross the Douglas bridge and swing off to the right and follow the road about six or seven miles to the Eaglecrest Ski Area sign where you will hang a right and take it 4.75 miles up to the meadows trail head on the left. A drop is best unless you have a car at each end. This trail is bound to get easier, but right now you do not want to make this a round trip effort! It's brutal as is right now...
Numerous difficulties
Tic-Tac-Toe Three Bridges In A Row
present themselves in
The Death March Bridge
many forms and I don't
The Mucky Mud!!
have a spare tube.
THE WALL-east side
Phew, no flats!!!

When to Bike

Don't worry about the rain because it won't make a hoot of difference on this trail. One does have to wait the snow to melt off below the 1200 foot level and get it done before it strikes again... Usually this ends up being late April to early November.
In Honor of Malibu: Three Ghosts Revisited
The ditch is a land
Is That The Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
of tombstoned ghost
One Of My Favorite Sections
stories where real men
The Treadwell Ditch: Where Miner s Ghosts Go To Work
lived to work and died
THE WALL-west side
earning a beggars wage.
TD Runs Right To Left
Snow strikes 48 hours after documented ride
TD s Lawson Creek Dam Circa 1904
Original Look At The Treadwell Flume
Treadwell Ditch Map
Start near Eaglecrest near the center of page (green trail)