Contributed by Patty Sullivan, Public Affairs Director of Mat-Su Borough
The Matauska-Susitna Borough’s most popular hiking trail - West Butte - will open 70 parking spaces in a new lot on Monday, July 31st. The parking lot removes vehicles from the road, ending a chronic safety problem for the Borough.
Some 24,000 hikers climb the Butte annually on just the West Butte Trail, not including the private trailside hikers on Bodenburg Loop. Total project cost is $251,336, which includes the purchase of an acre of private land opposite the present parking lot off Mothershead Lane.
Assembly Member Jim Sykes, who represents the Butte community, led the effort on finding a solution to parking for the popular trailhead. Sykes also requested the general fund appropriation last year.
“I’ve never been more excited about a new parking lot,” said Borough Recreation and Library Manager, Hugh Leslie. “This project isn’t about the trailhead parking fees, it’s about life safety threats to trail users and residents when an emergency vehicle can’t make it through. Now they can.”
Two fires burned near the trailhead in the last two summers, and injured hikers also have required emergency response.
The project included land purchase from a rental property, demolition of a trailer, ground clearing, engineering and construction. Striping was completed today. Sign placement and gate installation remain. The lot is open on Monday, July 31st.
The Butte hike is a short hike with big rewards: An epic view of Knik Glacier, the face of 6,398-foot Pioneer Peak, farms of the Valley floor and more. Although the retreating Knik Glacier ground to dust most everything in its path some 10,000 years ago, this 880-foot knob of bedrock was left behind.
Fly through the new parking lot here on this video by Stefan Hinman, Mat-Su Borough Media Specialist.