Looking for a nice place to ride your mountain or gravel bike? The Tanana Valley State Forest forestry roads have some nice options close to Fairbanks.
This recommendation comes with a caveat. Many of these roads have active forestry operations. And others like to use them for hunting, ATVing, or just driving around. So, always be careful to watch for traffic, especially trucks and other heavy equipment. Also, foresters with active operations are allowed to fence off roads for safety and to protect their equipment, so please respect that.
Below is a link to the state Division of Forestry resources map.
You have to get a bit geeky to work with the app, but it’s not too hard.
- In the top bar, the icon with the three lines gives you a legend to what you’re looking at. Zoom in and then click on something if you want more info on it.
- The icon with the three stacked squares gives you the Layers List. You can turn off all the timber-specific layers if you just want the roads.
- The four-squares icon gives you the Basemap Gallery. You can choose all sorts of base maps, including satellite imagery and topo maps.
- Once you get what you want, you can print out a map using the Print button in the upper left.
These maps don’t show ALL the roads and trails in the state forest. There are side roads and trails all over the place. None of the roads and trails necessarily go anywhere of particular interest to anyone but foresters, so a lot of them dead end in what appears to be the middle of nowhere. But there are gems out there.
Anyway, lots of places to go explore!
Here are several areas close to Fairbanks. The directions are from Fairbanks.
Rosie Creek roads
Park at the first pullout to the left (south) after Mile 343 Parks Highway. You can also park at the pullout at the corner of the Parks and Old Nenana highways, which is just a little way up the road. You can follow the trail down the intertie power line to the forestry road (East Rosie Creek Road) or you can take the Parks Highway to it.
This area has a good map because of a project to have that area’s focus be recreation-based in the coming years. No timber harvest is planned there for a few decades. Here’s another map of the area.
As of September 2020 there were few directional signs and no directional maps on the trail. The first map (above) shows places directional signs will be placed as a part of a project that will happen in summer 2021. So, if you go out there before the signs and maps are placed, pay attention to the turns you take.
Bonanza Creek roads
Take your first left (south) after mile 339 Parks Highway. A parking area is just up the hill. You’ll be on Bonanza Creek Road.
Between mileposts 4 and 5 on Bonanza Creek Road is a side trail to the right (east) that takes you to an awesome bluff overloook. Follow the correct roads and you’ll get all the way out to the Tanana River.
Nenana Ridge roads
Turn left (south) on the road across the Parks Highway from the upper entrance to Skinny Dick’s Halfway Inn (MP 328). This is Nenana Ridge Road. You can park at a wide intersection just up the road.
Take the proper turns and you can go 20 miles one-way. Not too many views, but this is a nice ride with mostly rolling hills. Another fork will take you to the Tanana River.
Cache Creek roads
Park at the turnoff to Cache Creek Road just past where the pavement ends on Murphy Dome Road.
A network of roads and trails snakes through the valleys just south of Murphy Dome. At least one trail connects the Cache Creek forestry roads to the Standard Creek forestry roads. There’s a rough trail that connects one of the Cache Creek roads to Murphy Dome Road just below Murphy Dome. It’s tough to find, but that’s the fun of it! Who knows what else is out there?