When it comes to simple wooded hills, Interior Alaska has a lot to love. Sure, the hillsides of the Chena Rec Area may not be dramatic and exciting like trips into Fairbanks’ more distant mountainous landscapes. But they are pleasant, and enjoyable. And sometimes that’s just what your in the mood for.
Such was the case for Jordan Pruszenski, her dog Myo (arf arf), and myself on March 14th 2021. Stiles Creek is a fun 15 mile XC ski loop. Almost the entire way was packed down by snow machines when we went. There are 3 legs to the trip, each about 5 miles long. I would recomend going in clockwise fashion (green, yellow, pink in the map below) that way you are facing toward awesome views while skiing down the upper part of the Stiles Creek Extension. The descent of Stiles Creek Extension (yellow) is also more gradual and has less turns than on the main Stiles Creek Trail, making it to be an expedient and more easily navigable downhill. I would start and end at mile 36.4 Upper Stiles Creek parking lot because the parking area is larger and because it sets you up to be doing the uphill leg (1000′ of elevation gain on the dotted green sections) at the start of the trip when you have the most energy. The return leg is on the winter trail (pink) which follows on the north bank of, and on top of, the frozen Chena River.
More information on Stiles Creek can be found here stilescrktrail13.pdf (alaska.gov) although note: the loop that pamphlet describes is the Stiles Creek Trail loop, which is longer than what we did and does not describe the new Stiles Creek Extension (yellow).