Best Nordic Centers in North America, Kincaid Park, Alaska

Kincaid Park, AlaskaDon't throw snowballs at the moose; they might just charge you. Follow that rule and you should enjoy your ski at Kincaid Park. When it comes to cross-country ski trails accessible to a major urban area, Kincaid is unsurpassed. Of course, your frame of reference has to be downtown Anchorage, Alaska.

It takes a mere 10-minute drive from downtown Anchorage to get to Kincaid's trails. If you don't have wheels, you can ski there along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail for an extended 15-kilometer warm-up.

The trail system at Kincaid is home-base for a nationally recognized Junior (under 20 years of age) Nordic ski program and is free to all. Funded only by donations, Kincaid's trails are also a memorial to young local skiers whose lives were cut-short. Pie's overlook on the Mize loop, Margie's loop (a great loop for beginners), and the Lekisch trail system (for more experienced skiers) all have their own sad story.

To keep people skiing well into Alaska's long winter nights, over a quarter of Kincaid's trails are lighted for night skiing. Aside from the lack of daylight, Kincaid offers the best of Eastern skiing (tight, variable trails that keep you on your toes and plenty of oxygen to get up them) and Western (deep snow for a long season, wide trails, and great views).

Thrill-seekers should take a run down Compression, which leads from one of the highest points in the park to one of the lowest in one exhilarating swoop.

If You Go: Kincaid Park

For more information:; Nordic Ski Assoc. of Anchorage (907) 276-7609; snow report (907) 248-6667.

Trails: 60 kilometers, skating and classic; 17 kilometers lighted for night skiing

Rentals: No

Lessons: No

Where: Kincaid Park is located 6 miles from Anchorage at the end of Raspberry Road.