Haines organizations are working together to expand and connect trails over lands held by different owners to create a two-mile loop near town.

Takshanuk Watershed Council, Chilkoot Indian Association, Southeast Alaska State Fair, Port Chilkoot Co., Haines Borough, the borough’s Parks and Recreation committee, runners, skiiers, hikers, private individuals and others are collaborating on the project.

Pam Randles said the project – part of the Haines Borough Comprehensive Plan – has been talked about for many years.

“The idea is to connect all these trails to each other across Port Chilkoot land and borough land,” Randles said.

Port Chilkoot Co. president Lee Heinmiller said the trail will go from the fairgrounds to the CIA trail across from Haines School, to Deishu Drive and Major Road, out to River Road, to Jones Point and the flats and back toward the fairgrounds.

“We like the idea that people can stay off the roadways and have some hiking trails that connect to everything else,” Heinmiller said.

Randles said some trails in that area already exist. Other sections haven’t been plotted out, need to be brushed out and improved or created.

Heinmiller said many of the existing trails were historically used for horseback riding when horses were still kept on the fairgrounds. Riders made use of old logging roads and cleared some brush between Port Chilkoot and borough property.

The organizations are now trying to sort out a specific route, walking through the woods to plot GPS coordinates.

“There are a couple of places where we need to be very exact as to not go on to private property,” Randles said.

Nick Kokotovich with CIA said the tribe is in the early stages of determining its involvement. CIA has a four-member crew to work on the trails, and they are considering getting a small machine to spread dirt for footing.

CIA has some money to spend on its portion of the project as part of a contract with the federal government for highway or trail work, Kokotovich said. The trail would have to be public, he said, and accessible to users with disabilities.

Heinmiller said the trail will be accessible for many uses, including walking and biking.

Randles said she hopes future discussion of the comprehensive plan at the borough level will help generate support for the project.

Kokotovich said there will be another planning meeting to discuss the trails next month. “Come and use our trails,” Kokotovich said. “That’s what they’re there for.”