Anchorage has a great system of paved bike trails that weave around the city, including a 12 mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. It begins right downtown and passes through the marshes, mudflats, forest and cliffs right at the water’s edge along the Cook Inlet. In the winter, the bike trails are used as cross country ski trails, and not only are they popular exercise trails, they are extremely useful for just getting around Anchorage on your bike, since riding on the street means navigating lots of traffic. In the non winter months, the trails are always full of bikers, walkers, runners and cross country skiers training on their roller skis.

About halfway down, the coastal trail passes right by one of the runways at the Anchorage International Airport. It’s one of the busiest airports on the Pacific Rim, and you can watch the planes come in one after another as they prepare to land. The trail is so close to the runway, that if you stand in the right spot, the jets are only about 100-feet over your head right before they cross over the fence and touch down. It’s really impressive, and quite exciting to watch, especially the 747’s, which are huge, and very loud!

Another fun feature on the coastal trail is the planet walk. Small displays that feature models of the sun and all nine planets are spaced in relative size and distance from each other, starting with the sun, right downtown, with Mercury, Venus and Earth within a few blocks of each other, and Pluto 12 miles away at the other end of the trail.

The other day, we rode our bikes along the trail and of course giggled when we passed Uranus. “Hey look, there’s…” We didn’t quite make it to Pluto, because we had to turn around when we came upon a moose standing on the middle of the bike path. She was drinking water from one of the rain puddles on the trail. Moose are apparently a pretty common sight on the trails, and they always get the right of way.

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