Jim Whisenhant Trails

Our club grooms and maintains the Jim Whisenhant Cross Country Ski Trails that weave throughout the Birch Hill Recreation Area, a 200-acre park owned by the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and onto adjacent military land.

The whole area is known simply as “Birch Hill” to regulars. However, be careful not to confuse it with “Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area,” which is a winter military recreation area accessed through Fort Wainwright, a US Army post in Fairbanks. It is adjacent to Birch Hill Recreation Area and has some cross-country ski trails that can be accessed through the Jim Whisenhant trails.

Our partnership with the borough and military provides cross-country skiers with wonderfully designed and groomed trails at a low cost. People do not need to buy trail passes, but the club hopes everyone who uses the trails, including summer users, will donate to the club’s Trail Fund.

To find out more about skiing trails accessed through the Birch Hill Recreation Area see the Birch Hill Recreation Area trail maps and our grooming report. See a map of the Jim Whisenhant Trails here.

Scavenger Hunt on the trails

Click here for a “Scavenger Hunt” of items that can be found on (or very close to) the Birch Hill trails.


Highlights of the Birch Hill Trails

  • There are more than 40 kilometers of groomed trails. Most are groomed for both skate and classic styles, but some are groomed for classic-style only
  • About 11 kilometers of the trails are lighted.
  • The Stadium is a large, mostly flat area that is the start and finish for most races and trails. Most of the recreation area buildings sit on the edge of the Stadium.
  • Longest Trail: The 10-kilometer White Bear Loop takes you out onto Fort Wainwright land and the farthest from the Stadium. It passes a military biathlon range that is also used by the club’s biathlon program.
  • Highest Point: The top of the Tower Loop. The elevation here is just over 1,050 feet above sea level.
  • Lowest (and usually coldest) point on a loop: The farthest end of the White Bear Loop. The elevation here is just over 750 feet above sea level. When frigid temperatures come, the lowest point can be avoided by taking the White Bear Loop’s 7-kilometer cutoff.
  • Lowest Point on the trail system: The bottom of the Sonot Connector, which ends at the Alpine Ski Lodge at Fort Wainwright’s Birch Hill Ski and Snowboard Area at about 475 above sea level.
  • Typical skiing season: Mid-October to mid-April
  • Our grooming fleet includes one PistenBully tracked vehicle, three Skandic snowmachines, and one Caterpillar skid-steer for summer dirt work.