The Birch Hill Recreation Area is one of the premier cross-country skiing destinations in the country. Not only are our trails some of the best designed and maintained trails in the nation, but our buildings offer great places for before and after skiing activities as well as places to socialize. All this is offered by a joint effort by the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks and the Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department. Although you can use the trails at any time, the gate to the recreation area is closed and locked from 10pm to 7am each day.
The Jim Whisenhant Cross Country Ski Trails weave throughout the Birch Hill Recreation Area—which is owned by the Fairbanks North Star Borough—and onto adjacent military land. Our club maintains the trails throughout the year, including grooming for skate and classic skiing.
About 10 kilometers of trails are lighted. The trail lights are not on in the morning. They are activated by photocells, so they go on a dusk and a timer turns them off at about 9:30pm.
The recreation area has several buildings that are owned and maintained by the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
- The Birch Hill Cross Country Ski Center: This is a large building, the newest in the stadium area. It includes a Team Pod used by our youth programs and by local high school ski teams, combined bathroom/changing rooms, and an Assembly Pod for large get-togethers, including Junior Nordic snack time and larger events. It has a deck and a kitchen. The pods are connected by a bridge that crosses over a trail and has windows for spectators who prefer indoor temperatures when watching events. The ski center has long hours in the winter, but is open in the summer only by appointment. It is available for rent throughout the year.
- The Old Warming Hut: Open 24 hours a day, year round. Although considerably smaller than the newer ski center, the Old Warming Hut is still popular. It is heated and offers a small gathering area and bathrooms.
- Rikka’s Roadhouse: Between the Old Warming Hut and the Timing Building, used for bib pickup during races.
- The Timing Building: Situated next to the standard finish line, the Timing Building is used by race timing crews. It also serves as the offices of the Nordic Ski Club of Fairbanks.
- Old Equipment Shed (nestled in the parking lots): Stores miscellaneous equipment.
- Equipment Building (located near the entrance): Most club-related equipment, especially grooming equipment, is stored here.
Parking used to be an issue during larger events, but the addition of the Far Parking Lot has helped ease parking pressure.
- Upper Parking Lot: Located just below the Ski Center and the Old Warming Hut, the upper parking lot has handicapped parking spaces and a drive-through lane for dropping off people.
- Lower Parking Lot: Just below the upper parking lot, the lower parking lot has much more room. Temporary waxing huts are sometimes housed here during larger events. It is connected to the upper parking lot by a walkway. A small trailhead at southwest corner accesses the North Forty Trail.
- Far Parking Lot: This is past the Upper Parking Lot and below the Timing Building. This is a good place to park if you want to get on the trails in a hurry without using the area’s buildings.
- Roundabout parking: Parking for a few cars is available just outside the gate to the recreation area. Use this if you are skiing late and are concerned that you might get locked out. You can access the North Forty and Warm Up Loop trails from this area.