Nordic skiers looking for groomed trails and spectacular views don't have to venture further than Hatcher Pass.

Each year, Hatcher Pass receives the first snow of the year in Southcentral Alaska, which opens up many winter recreation opportunities. Nordic skiing enthusiasts flock to the area each fall. With trails around Independence Mine State Historical Area complementing the Government Peak Recreation Area, there are trails suitable for users of all skill levels.

This winter has been a bit more challenging for skiers due to the unpredictable weather. Hatcher Pass got a heavy blanket of snow early, but in recent days, has received rain, turning the conditions into less than ideal. Skiers heading to Hatcher Pass should be aware of avalanche conditions that are prevalent during the freeze/thaw cycle that we're currently experiencing.

Once the winter settles into the area, however, it's one of the top places in Alaska for Nordic skiing. Government Peak, at the base of Hatcher Pass, has more than 5 kilometers of lighted trails, while Independence Mine and Archangel Road offer trails with spectacular views of the lower Valley. The non-profit organization Mat-Su Ski Club does a terrific job grooming all the trails in the area, and provide current trail and weather conditions on its web site.

If you aren't into Nordic skiing but want to get out and play, try renting a fat tire bike from Lifetime Adventures at the Government Peak Chalet - you'll get to experience one of Alaska's fastest growing trends in outdoor recreation!