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A Local's Guide To Outdoor Recreation In Fairbanks
Photo Credit: ATIA, Matt Hage
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A Local's Guide To Outdoor Recreation In Fairbanks

A Local's Guide to Outdoor Recreation in Fairbanks

Dermot Cole is a longtime Alaska reporter, columnist, and author, based in Fairbanks. He has written extensively about Alaska and Alaska history for more than 35 years. A longtime columnist for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, his most recent book is "North to the Future: The Alaska Story, 1959 - 2009." Cole grew up in Pennsylvania and lived in Taiwan, Montana, and Hong Kong before moving to Alaska in 1974. Read more about Dermot.

When I'm looking for world-class cross-country skiing and running trails, I need look no further than Alaska's second-largest city, and the place that I call home, Fairbanks. What drew me here was the unmatched outdoor recreational opportunities...and what keeps me here are the challenges of chronicling daily life in one of the country's most exciting regions.

Birch Hill Recreation Area

The Birch Hill Recreation Area just east of Fairbanks is a perfect place to escape, winter or summer. When the snow is fresh and crisp, the cross country skiing is unmatched. In the summer the sun-drenched aspen, birch, and spruce trees border a series of trails that are perfect for bikers or for those who want to stretch their legs and expand their horizons with a quiet walk in the woods.

Chena Hot Springs

Chena Hot Springs may be the best place in Alaska to find rest, relaxation, and refreshment. The natural hot springs flow into an outdoor pool, hot tubs, and an indoor pool where stress and tension melt away. Hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing trails run throughout the resort and the Ice Museum, insulated to withstand summer's heat, entertains year-round. The lodge is an hour from Fairbanks down a scenic road that threads through the Chena River State Recreation Area, which has tons of hiking opportunities and a winding river that draws campers, canoers, and fishers.

Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge

Every spring and fall I like to drop in and see the visitors who stop in by the thousands at the Creamer's Field Migratory Waterfowl Refuge. The refuge is unique because it's inside Alaska's second largest city, Fairbanks, and its forests, wetlands, and farm fields are vital to all sorts of animals, especially the tens of thousands of migratory birds who rest here every year during the spring and fall migrations. The geese, cranes, ducks, and other birds are always a welcome sight and a reminder of the rich wildlife that adds excitement to life in Alaska.

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