2 - 3
FATMAP difficulty grade
The Hemlock Burn trail is an entertaining and downright gorgeous mountain bike ride! At the time of this writing in 2022, Hemlock Burn is a brand-new machine-built singletrack trail descending from the Glen Alps Trailhead.
It then connects very easily to the top of Jeff's Whoop Whoop for a fantastic flow trail finish. Hemlock Burn stands out as a truly beginner-friendly singletrack descent.
This non-technical trail is fast and flowy, and there are no major obstacles or challenges to be found.
In fact, there are barely even any jumps along its route.
This is still a fun trail offering beautiful views of the city below, but advanced mountain bikers might find it a bit boring. Hemlock Burn was originally conceptualized as a true mountain bike flow trail, but the HOHAs had a problem with it.
Due to political maneuvering and compromises, the trail was dumbed down substantially during construction, as compared to the original vision.
There are still some good berms and some fun bits, but you can easily see where it would have been easy to add a sweet tabletop jump with just a bit more of a lip on a roller...
but you can tell the lips were just shaved off and eliminated. Thankfully, the trail still got built and didn't get completely nixed in committee, and it's already proving to be a popular addition to the Anchorage trail system. The best way to finish this downhill run is on Jeff's Whoop Whoop.
Jeff's is the most popular trail in the Hillside Park trail system.
This intermediate-friendly flow trail is filled with beautifully-sculpted jumps and delightful berms.
The professional trail construction has created superb flow between the features, allowing the riders to link up hits and keep the trail speed high. On Jeff's, you'll find all manner of tabletop jumps, hips, step downs, a few optional doubles, and more.
There's a berm in every corner, but the berms vary in size and shape from small and narrow to absolutely massive walls of dirt.
Everything on this trail is easily navigable, and the most challenging hits are all avoidable, so it's a true crowd-pleaser. Do note, however, that compared to Hemlock Burn, Jeff's does include some bigger features and faster speeds, warranting an Intermediate rating.
However, most riders will still be able to negotiate this trail, even if they can't clear all the jumps. **Getting to the Top** While it's possible to shuttle Hemlock Burn, if you choose to pedal to the top, this trail provides a fantastic cross country loop with a respectable amount of climbing. In the lower section of the Hillside Park trail system, there are a couple of different uphill options, but this route follows one of the best climbing trails: Ticket to Ride.
From there, the climb connects through Llama to Upper Llama, then follows the South Fork Rim Trail for its two-mile length.
After that, the climb concludes on a direct but steep grunt up the Powerline Trail to reach the Glen Alps parking lot and the top of Hemlock Burn. One alternative option is to skip the steep Powerline climb and connect straight into Hemlock Burn at what's roughly the midpoint of the trail.
While you'll miss some great singletrack and beautiful views up top, you'll also eliminate some of the pain of the climb!