WASILLA — Fall is officially here and there’s still plenty of outdoor activities available across the Valley.

Backcountry Bike and Ski owner Tony Berberich said there’s a variety of local trails and outdoor assets readily accessible for hiking, biking, or simply walking. He said people in the Valley have a great selection to choose from, it all just comes down to deciding a destination and getting outside.

“You don’t need anything but you do need to get out there,” Berberich said.

Berberich listed Kepler/Bradley Lake and the surrounding trail system it connects to called the Matanuska Greenbelt as two of his favorite go-to spots in the Valley.

The Greenbelt is an expansive trail system that stretches for many miles in between the Palmer-Wasilla Highway, Glenn Highway, Parks Highway, and Trunk Road, connecting various landmarks with trailheads at a places like the Mat-Su College, Crevasse Moraine, Matanuska Lake, and the UAF Experiment Farm.

Berberich said the Greenbelt is in a fairly central location for easy access in the core Valley area with multiple traileads to start from. The Greenbelt is highly marked and groomed regularly with various levels of hills to choose from, making it an ideal location for a range of ages and activities.

“I like it because it’s right in town and really accessible,” Berberich said.

Berberich lives in Palmer and regularly grooms the trails around the Mat-Su River Park and other local areas. He said the trails locals get to enjoy are there because of the work done year round by volunteers from groups like the Valley Bikers and Hikers and Mat-Su Ski Club, down to the average individual just doing their part to make the outdoors more enjoyable for everyone.

He noted that local groups are always looking for help maintaining trails throughout the year.

“We always need more, especially this year,” Berberich said.

The Government Peak Recreation and Hatcher Pass in general is a great go-to spot for locals looking for a quick adventure, according to Berberich. From blueberry picking and day hikes to skiing and snowboarding, there’s always something to do.

“You pretty much have everything right there. You can go there every day of the year and do something different,” Berberich said.

Berberich said the new Skeetawk ski area will be a great place for kids to learn how to ski and snowboard.

“I’m super excited about that,” Berberich said.

When it comes to outdoor activities in the fall, Berberich recommended dressing in layers. That way people can simply peel off layers as the temperature rises. He said it’s obviously going to be different in winter, where you want to avoid being sweaty so choosing just the right amount of layers will be ideal for staying active outside.

“A lot of it is just getting out,” Berberich said.

Berberich said Lazy Mountain and the Butte are still popular destinations after the snow falls. He said that winter hikers should pick up a headlamp and a pair of microspikes from Active Soles in Palmer before their next winter excursion.

“They are literally game changers,” Berberich said. “They just give you a super awesome grip and make it a hell of a lot more enjoyable. We have them in our pack all the time.”

When winter does show up, Berberich said people can still get outside without venturing too far from their homes. He said a simple daily walk around the neighborhood is a great way to stay active.

“It seems like you get out for a walk and things seem to slow down,” Berberich said. “If you push yourself outside and say I’m gonna go on a 10 min walk most times you end up doing 20… The hardest part is getting out the door.”

Contact Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reporter Jacob Mann at jacob.mann@frontiersman.com

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