Skiing the Trapper Lake - Rabideux Trail

"Wow - that's one huge taiga swamp"!  Seems like I always say this when flying north from Anchorage and looking down at the area between the Susitna and Kahiltna Rivers.  I knew that snowmobile trails crossed much of these swamps in the winter.  And in this area I had never been to Trapper Lake or Susitna Landing.  So by combining these places to check out ... I came up with this ski.  It was a 50 mile out and back, with a loop at the far end.  Met a few snowmobiles when I was going from Susitna Landing to Trapper Lake.  After that - only one group of snow-gos of which one guy was a skier I knew coming out from his cabin after being there for the spring break week with his family.  Great day skiing trails I had never been on before.  During the last mile back to Susitna Station I was wishing that March in Alaska could last a lot longer ... like 13 months of the year.

Susitna Station.  Owners Ron  & Marilyn Wilson are super nice folks.  And Ron is a character.  I went into the office to pay to park there and told him I was skiing and didn't have a snowmobile.  He yelled to Marilyn: "Do we charge skiers for each ski?" Here is the route I skied.  From Susitna Landing I skied to Trapper Lake then on to the Rabideax Trailhead on the Parks Highway.  Then over to Rocky's Lake and back through Trapper Lake to Susitna Landing.  Total distance: a hair over 50 miles. From a point about 200 yards from the start the scenery basically never changes.  Foraker, Hunter and McKinley loom to the north.
Getting up off the Susitna River bed the trail goes up a narrow cut the locals call "The Ravine". This was a crack-up.  "Go left at the fork in the trail" ! There were quite a few cabins on Trapper Lake.  Access here is by snowmobile in the winter, float plane in the summer.
One older cabin on the lake had an elaborate tower for solar collectors and wind turbines.  (click on this picture and expand it to better see what I'm talking about). One thing I do when I get to nondescript junctions in the trail is to ski off the trail.  This makes it easy to know where to turn on your return trip.  So the ski tracks above mean I should go right when I return.  My Malamute sled dog buddies showed me this trail tip.  It's a quick and simple reference, and you don't have to pull out the GPS. The Rabideax Trail is marked with recycled sign pieces.
This panoramic gives you and idea of what it is like out in the middle of the Rabideax taiga swamp.  Black spruce, barren and flat.
Near the Rabideax Trailhead there was some nice road skiing in the forest. The Rabideax Trailhead on the Parks Highway. On the way back I passed near a creek with a queer name.
At the junction of the Amber Lake Trail I met a skier friend named Marco.  A guy in his group told me about a local trail, that I decided to take to make a loop.  I hopped on a snowmobile at the end of Rocky's Lake and used my GPS to ensure I was going in the right direction. Back at Trapper Lake I found a bag of bait herring that some pike fisherman had dropped.  I tell you - when you combine a mouthful of peanut butter PowerBar and herring it tastes awesome!!  You should try it !! Back on the Big Susitna River, the highway points home.
     
Back to 2006 Skiing Photos Photos and web page by Tim Kelley