Goat and Wagon Road Trail


Because of the increased use of the 1899 Pack Trail, it was upgraded in order to accommodate sleds, wagons, and eventually automobiles.  By 1905, the Valdez Transportation Company was offering a nine day stagecoach trip to Fairbanks for $150. In 1913, the first automobile traveled from Valdez to Fairbanks over the improved trail, even though the Goat Trail section was difficult to maintain due to snow and rock slides.

The Snowslide Gulch area posed a particular problem as massive snowslides would periodically destroy or severely damage its bridge. Bear Creek Bridge, the last of the four main trail bridges, was built in 1943.  This 300 foot steel arch bridge is a good example of World War II construction.  The Goat Trail/Wagon Road was in use as late as 1952 when a major flood destroyed the 317 foot long Lowe River Bridge, located just upstream from the mouth of Keystone Canyon.  What remains of the concrete piers can still be seen in the river.  Once a through trail, the Goat Trail and Wagon Road are now considered two separate trails because of the destruction of the bridge at Snowslide Gulch during the floods of 2006. 


From the west end of the parking area at Bridal Veil Falls, walk about 200 yards toward Valdez and veer right to enter the Goat Trail.  Walk 0.3 miles to the intersection of the Goat Trail and Pack Trail.  Turn right.  Interesting flowers are often found on the rock cliff just past with the Wagon Road, which takes off to the right. Walking up a slight grade, the Pack Trail turn off will be passed at 3 tenths of a mile on the left. Interesting flowers are often found on the rock cliff just past this point.  The Wagon Road continues along through alder and spruce. There are two rather exposed trail sections high above the Lowe River which offer excellent views, but care is advised when on these sections.  The Southern Snowslide Gulch viewing area is reached at 1.6 miles.  The 2006 flood destroyed the DOT footbridge; crossing at this point is prohibited.  DOT has no current plans to replace this bridge.  However, excellent views of Dutch Flats can be seen from this location.


Distance:  1.6 miles one way
Time:  2 hours round trip
Difficulty:  Moderate


A small sign marks the entrance to the Wagon Road at the Mile 18 turnout on the Richardson Highway.  A phone is available here.  At the entrance, the small path weaves for 0.2 miles through a forested area until it intersedcts the Wagon Road.  Turn left at the "Trail" sign.  1.5 miles later, a small 10-minute side trail branches off to the left and down to the Bear Creek Dike.  The main trail continues over the Bear Creek Bridge and begins to climb steadily upward.  Look for the ruins of the old Lowe River Bridge; two concrete piers should be visible.  One mile from the Bear Creek Bridge, another short trail to the left drops down to the riverbed.  The Wagon Road continues up with several nice viewponts before reaching the North Snowslide Gulch viewing area.  Although at one time a bridge connected both sections of the Goat Trial and Wagon Trail, crossing at this point is now prohibited.  Turn around here and return to the trailhead at Mile 18 on the Richardson Highway. 


Distance:  3.3 miles one way
Time:  4 hours round trip
Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate