A $47,000 federal grant secured by the Alaska Division of Parks should complete reconstruction of the Battery Point trail by next year, parks officials said recently. That’s good news to area hikers.

“It’s a gorgeous trail,” said Paul Swift, a longtime local hiker and mountaineer. “Locals use it year-round very faithfully. Now that it goes even farther, it will probably get even more use.”

Work on the mile-long project has seen “multiple incarnations” since starting in earnest about eight years ago, Swift said.

Jenn Allen, a former natural resource technician for Division of Parks, worked on the trail for about five summers, starting in 2008. She said work started in 2007 and progress slowed when an original plan to harden the path to a width of 1.5 hikers was expanded to one that would accommodate ATVs.

That plan has since been scrapped.

Last year, workers leap-frogged to the end of the trail, working toward town on clearing a new, beachside section that replaces steep and muddy sections thick with tree roots.

Completion of about a quarter-mile section remaining will include hauling and placing tons of gravel, and building terraced steps down to the new, beachside portions.

Helicopters are used to haul bags of gravel to the site.

Allen said that when she was working on the trail as recently as three years ago, unimproved sections were continuing to be degraded. Up to a half-dozen tour companies from Haines and Skagway use the trail, a short trip through woods to a scenic beach at Kelgaya Point.

“It was in pretty bad shape. A lot of people started making their own trails to avoid the rutty (sections), which made it more rutty,” Allen said.

Dallas Anderson, a recently hired natural resource technician for Division of Parks, said volunteers during a National Trails Day event were able to extend a portion of improved trail, and expressed optimism more would be done this year.

Allen said she’s looking forward to seeing the project completed. “Absolutely. It’ll be great to have the whole thing hardened. There’s a high volume of traffic that uses it. It’s been a long time coming.”

The improved trail will end at a north-facing beach known to locals as Battery Point, but is actually Kelgaya Point. A rough, forested trail about a half-mile long extends from Kelgaya Point to Battery Point and to a south-facing cove there.