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As its name suggests, the Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail links the small city of Palmer with Moose Creek via an unused railroad corridor in Alaska. Extending northward from the heart of Palmer—home of the Alaska State Fair—the rustic rail-trail follows the Matanuska River, offering scenic views throughout.
The northern half of the trail is wedged between tall bluffs and the river, with occasional minor landslides requiring quick repair from local volunteers. Farther south, a dense mix of birch, spruce and cottonwood trees offers ample opportunities for birdwatching and other wildlife encounters. The Chugach Mountains populate the skyline impressively to the south.
The trail dead-ends at Moose Creek, so trail users must return to Palmer the way they came or follow the creek a short distance up to Glenn Highway (State Route 1).
Parking for the Palmer-Moose Creek Railroad Trail is available along Eagle Avenue in Palmer. Alternatively, park at the northern trailhead off Glenn Highway at Moose Creek, located approximately 6 miles north of Palmer. From the parking lot, cross the highway and follow the short trail along the creek to the start of the rail-trail.
This is a very pretty trail through the woods on the side of a mountain, with the river off to the other side. We started on the Palmer side and went about two miles in, then turned around due to so many steep washouts from landslides. We had already walked the bikes through two of them, and this last one had about a foot and a half you would actually need to jump, which seemed like a bad idea with bikes. When we got back to the trail head though, we decided to ride some more and went east on Eagle street and saw a trailhead for the Matanuska River Trail about 3 blocks away, which appears to be very new (perhaps still under construction). It was wide and took us gradually down toward the river and then back up, ending in a campground. This trail is also through quite lovely woods and following the river path. We rode on the Glenn Highway back to the trailhead then, making for about a six mile loop. The trail may also continue on the river, but we chose to go to the campground. As mentioned, it is very new and there was no markings or signage.
Nice trail in parts, but lots of rock slides to cross over the course of 6.5 miles. Trail is also being re-routed in a few places due to the river bank eroding. Probably walked our mountain bikes about 1/3 of the distance. Beginning and ending sections are flat. Almost no traffic- only saw 2 hikers on the route.
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