New Raven Trail, a cooperative achievement for Petersburg community

Release Date: Aug 1, 2014   Petersburg, Alaska

Contact(s): Brad Hunter

Raven Trail

Petersburg, AK, July 31, 2014— One of Petersburg’s most popular trails is getting a complete makeover — and the first section of the new, improved Raven Trail has opened to rave reviews. Thanks to cooperative efforts between the Forest Service and the Petersburg community, a new trailhead and a half-mile of wheelchair-accessible trail were recently completed near the Sandy Beach Recreation Area.

The project was supported by Secure Rural Schools funding allocated by Petersburg’s Resource Advisory Committee, and Chairman Scott Roberge said it was a “no-brainer” decision to back the improvements.

“Almost everyone uses that trail — from kids all the way up to seniors, whether they’re going to have a picnic, walking their dog or just going for a stroll in the woods to explore the muskeg,” Roberge said. “The new trail opens up many avenues for everyone in Petersburg.”

Petersburg Ranger District Recreation Manager Brad Hunter said residents have made public their appreciation of the new trail in a variety of ways. In particular, the new section provides Petersburg residents with a wheelchair-accessible trail right in their backyard — and that feature has been embraced, literally.

“Paul Olson, our trails manager, got a big hug on the street from a woman whose husband uses a wheelchair,” Hunter said. “She told him, ‘You gave us a trail he can use’.”

The previous Raven Trail departed from a remote, poorly-accessible area behind the airport. Because the route passed through a confusing mix of land owners, maintenance and management was a headache for the agency. By working with landowners to move the trailhead and entirely rebuilding the trail, the access issues have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

“We couldn’t have built the trail without the support of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, Petersburg Borough and the Alaska Department of Transportation. These folks put a huge amount of effort into getting the project approved. Everyone saw the value and importance of this project and we worked together to get the trail through,” Hunter said. 

Petersburg District Ranger Jay Anderson added his thanks to the landowners as well, citing their cooperative efforts to grant public access as key to completing the project.

“This trail is proof in the power of partnerships and working across boundaries. The generous support of the Alaska Mental Health Trust, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Petersburg Borough enabled us to make this trail a public gem,” Anderson said.

Further improvements are in the design and planning stages, and Hunter said the goal is to rebuild a total of four miles of trail, all the way to the Raven’s Roost cabin. Construction of another half-mile of wheelchair-accessible trail has already been funded, while the remaining three miles will be a single-track hiking trail.

Hunter said the project is a testament to the value of persistence — the original idea of rebuilding the trail dates back to 1990, and the process of getting easements across nonfederal land began more than a decade ago. Now that the first section is open, the value of those efforts has become tangible.

“It’s very rewarding to see our work making a difference,” he said.