Challenge Alaska weekend trip to Cordova an eye-opening experience into the wonders of nature
By Janet Hoppe
Special to the Turnagain Times
Last weekend, I set sail from Cordova and found myself stranded on an island with four young campers eager to experience the out of doors. The campers were invited by the Chugach National Forest to participate in a Challenge Alaska weekend, a program, which brings children with challenges into nature.
I soon realized that the challenge part of the weekend was for the adults to keep up with the enthusiasm, the eagerness, the curiosity, and the energy that these four young people demonstrated.
In Cordova and out the road are many great places to enjoy nature for those young and old who prefer easy access and a little less effort. Throughout the Copper River Delta there are accessible natural viewing areas. Whether they are maintained sites or casual stops on the road, everyone can get outside and enjoy the sights, sounds, scenery and wildlife of our backyard.
Closer to town, the breakwater trail on the far side of the new harbor has a flat gravel walking surface. Grab the arm of someone who walks a little slower and the two of you can walk side by side all the way to the end. Bring along a lawn chair to sit and enjoy the harbor and the wildlife on the bay. There are two interpretive signs about gulls and sea otters, both of which frequent the waters close to the trail.
Power Creek road is a popular local walking, biking and dog-walking route or simply pull up a chair at the base of the ski hill and listen for the birds.
A drive any direction from town has opportunities for experiencing wildlife and witnessing the change of seasons from the comfort of your car or a lawn chair at the side of the road. Many of the pull offs are there for a reason. It’s where things happen. Stop along the Orca road and watch eagles diving for food or spot a playful sea otter. Give a special wave to the fishermen in their boats as they head to the harbor after long days out on the sound.
Five miles out of town at Hartney Bay, the scenery and wildlife change with the tide. Listen to the birds as they hunt the mud flats for food. Bring a fishing pole and fish from the shore or watch the fishermen as they wade in the water.
The Copper River Highway has been designated a Scenic Byway and for good reason. Wetlands, forests, streams, lakes, glaciers, and the Delta are the stage for natural encounters. Early in the morning is a great time to see a wandering moose or waterfowl searching for food.
The Eyak river bridge has accessible viewing to watch salmon when they make their way upstream. Learn more about the Copper River Delta at the Delta entrance interpretive kiosk. Eyak Boat Landing, Alaganik Slough, One Eyed pond day use area, and the Alaganik River boat launch are accessible sites maintained by the Chugach National Forest. These areas have level parking, accessible picnic sites, and accessible toilets.
Alaganik Slough at mile 17 has a 900-foot fully accessible boardwalk that overlooks the wetlands. The interpretive signs are placed so visitors can read and than look out into the wetlands for a first hand experience with the wetlands and the wildlife. Accessible picnic sites have river views and are close to accessible toilets.
Forty-nine miles out the road, is the fully accessible recreation area of Child’s Glacier. The drive is only part of the journey. The site has a fully accessible viewing platform, hiking trails, drive up glacier viewing, and accessible picnic sites and toilets.
Our natural world is accessible to everyone. Next time you are planning a drive out the road to enjoy our backyard, invite your neighbor who may need a ride or a nature companion. That is an easy challenge.