Alyeska Mountain services manager Brian Burnett is no stranger to all things Alaska. He’s lived there most of his life and learned to ski at Alyeska way back in 1963. Growing up alpine racing, he traveled the world as a ski tech with the U.S Ski Team for about 20 years and then returned to work at Alyeska, where he gets up to 150 days a year in both in-bounds and in the region’s vast backcountry. When the snow melts, you can find him either paddling or hitting the local trails on his mountain bike, with rain jacket in tow. “I’m a mountain enthusiast living the alpine dream,” he says. “And there’s no better place to do it.”
Here are a few of his favorite things about Alyeska:
Aspect of the region in the off-season: The long wet rides and hikes through Alaska’s incredible Chugach Mountains, where the scenery’s absolutely fantastic. I also love the summer concerts and festivals at Alyeska, as well as the Downhill Bike Park.
Place to mountain bike ride: I like the Winner Creek Trail or the Alyeska Resort Downhill Bike Park on the weekends, riding Chair 1 or the Bearcub Quad. But there’s tons of great riding everywhere.
Place to road ride: On the Bird to Gird bike path, stopping at Bird Point for a quick view of the Turnagain Arm and a power snack.
Place to ride with the family: Again, the Bird to Gird Bike Trail. It follows the Turnagain Arm and offers incredible views of both the ocean and surrounding mountains. If you’re lucky you might see a whale or even the Bore Tide.
Place to paddle (flatwater): Spencer Lake. It’s a great place to take beginners to teach them how to paddle, and also a great spot if you just want to chill out with the family. It’s great for canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and more.
Place to paddle (whitewater): 6 Mile Creek. It’s right across the Turnagain Arm, with the put-in just a half hour away, and it offers some of the best, most continuous and accessible Class IV-V whitewater in the Alaska.
Place to paddle with the family: Spencer Lake.
Place to re-fuel: I like hitting the Sitzmark Bar and Grill, where you can order such favorites as Tram Pocket Nachos, Tele Tenders, High Traverse Halibut, and Denali Drummies. It also has the best deck in Girdwood.
Place for a beer afterwards: Sitzmark. It has over a dozen local and seasonal beers on tap.
Photo courtesy Burnett, Alyeska