A hidden gem in the Valley's trail system is also one of it's newest - Settlers Bay Coastal Park, just eight miles from Wasilla.
The 295-acre Settlers Bay Coastal Park features something for nearly every outdoor recreationalist - hiking trails, mountain biking, views of the Chugach Mountains and the Talkeetna Mountains, birding and much more. It's a collaborative effort between many organizations, including Great Land Trust, the Mat-Su Borough, Mat-Su Trails and Parks Foundation and Settlers Bay Golf Course.The park officially opened in 2019, and throughout 2020, more trails are being developed. Currently, there are three miles of trails, many of which are wide and lined with gravel. The trails are perfect for beginners and families.
"We wanted a place that would be for the whole community to use, not for residential development in such an amazing area," said Amos Stephens of Settlers Bay Golf Course at the park's ribbon cutting in 2019. "This was a great opportunity."
The trails are suitable for all ages and abilities, and open up to amazing views of Cook Inlet, two mountain ranges and Knik Glacier. The area is a major migration area for birds, and the nearby streams are home to spawning salmon every summer.
According to the Great Land Trust's web site, "In 2013, owners of the Settlers Bay Golf Course, LLC approached Great Land Trust about conserving some of the undeveloped property within the Settlers Bay neighborhood as public open space. GLT partnered with the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, ConocoPhillips, Mat-Su Parks and Trails Foundation, Rasmuson Foundation, Settlers Bay Golf Course, LLC, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, and over 70 individual private donors to acquire the property with the intent of creating a regional park for public recreation and habitat conservation in perpetuity, ultimately creating the 293-acre Settlers Bay Coastal Park."
To access the park, take Knik-Goose Bay Road to Settlers Bay Road and turn left. Immediately at the bottom of the hill, take a left on S. Settlers Bay Drive and follow it until it turns to a dirt road. The trailhead is at the end of the road.