Saturday Field Trips
















FT - 2  Ferning around Turnagain Arm

Sponsored by AFS

Trip Leader(s): Mary Stensvold, Regional Botanist, Forest Service Alaska Region, retired; Robert DeVelice, Vegetation Ecologist, Chugach National Forest, retired; Jason Grant, University of Neuchâtel

8:00 am to 5:00 pm
Fee:  $125.00 - includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch, water and permits

Running southeast from Anchorage, the Seward Highway (a National Scenic Byway) offers spectacular views of the Chugach Mountains, the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula, glaciers, the vast mudflats of Turnagain Arm and wildlife viewing. The environmental diversity, in combination with a wide range of natural disturbances (e.g., fires, snow avalanches, windthrow, landslides, earthquakes), has resulted in substantial diversity of vegetation communities. In addition to hunting for ferns at sites along the Highway, we will take a short side trip to Girdwood, a longer side trip to Whittier via the Whittier Tunnel (at 2.5 miles long the longest highway tunnel in North America), visit the Begich-Boggs Visitor Center area (time permitting), and travel up to the summit of Turnagain Pass. Our fern foray will explore an array of habitats; the western part of our route is quite dry, with Anchorage’s annual rainfall being about 17 inches; 30 miles to the southeast, Girdwood’s rainfall is about 70 inches, and further east at Whittier rainfall is about 154 inches, resulting in a temperate rainforest habitat. At the summit of Turnagain Pass (elevation, 900 feet) we will explore a mosaic of subalpine meadow habitats.

Ferns and lycophytes we may see include:  Athyrium filix-femina subsp. cyclosorum, Northwestern lady fern; Botrychium lanceolatum, Triangle moonwort fern; Botrychium minganense, Mingan moonwort fern; Botrychium neolunaria, New World moonwort fern; Cryptogramma acrostichoides, American parsley fern; Cryptogramma sitchensis, Alaska Parsley fern; Cystopteris fragilis, Fragile fern; Diphasiastrum complanatum, Northern running-pine; Dryopteris expansa, Northern wood fern; Dryopteris fragrans, Fragrant wood fern; Equisetum arvense, Common horsetail; Equisetum fluviatile, River horsetail; Equisetum palustre, Marsh horsetail; Equisetum pratense, Meadow horsetail; Equisetum scirpoides, Dwarf scouring rush; Equisetum sylvaticum, Wood horsetail; Equisetum variegatum, Variegated scouring rush; Gymnocarpium, Oak fern; Lycopodium annotinum, Bristly club-moss; Matteuccia struthiopteris, Ostrich fern; Phegopteris connectilis, Northern beech fern; Polypodium glycyrrhiza, Licorice fern; Sceptridium multifidum, Leathery grapefern; Struthiopteris spicant, Deer fern; Thelypteris quelpaertensis, Mountain wood fern; Woodsia ilvensis, Rusty cliff fern; Woodsia scopulina, Mountain cliff fern.

FT - 3 Flora of the Chugach Mountains

Trip Leader(s): Dennis Ronsee, Alaska Native Plant Society; M. Anjanette Steer, vegetation ecologist – Alaska Center for Conservation Science, University of Alaska Anchorage

9:00 am- 5:00 pm
Fee:  $150.00 includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch, water  and collecting permits

This is a guided hike to McHugh Ridge in Chugach State Park to see alpine flora. Overall, this is a moderate hike, 5.4 miles roundtrip, with 2300 ft. of elevation gain. The hike will start from an Anchorage residential neighborhood on a rather steep path, ascending 1200 feet in the first mile, to gain the ridge line.  From the ridge on clear days there are panoramic views of Turnagain Arm, the Kenai Mountains, and the Alaska Range. As we hike the ridge on toward the summit it becomes a gentle slope, but a few sections of steep unmaintained trail with loose rocks where a hiking pole would be helpful. Along the way we’ll see dwarf plants, and lichens adapted to extreme wind and cold, though only 3200 feet above sea level! Most blooming happens early in summer, but we hope to find various late flowers, graminoids, and lichens such as Potentilla, Dryas, Saxifraga, Cassiope, Carex, Cladonia, Rhizocarpon, and Alectora. Please wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring lunch and water, and be prepared for quickly changing weather with a hat, gloves and raincoat. Mountain goats and Dall sheep are often spotted above tree line.

FT - 4 Portage and Byron Glacier Tour

Trip Leader: Cindy Johnson, Professor Emeritus, Gustavus Adolphus College

9:00 am - 4:00 pm
Fee:  $100.00 - includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch, water, and entrance fee

The Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, managed by the Chugach National Forest, offers spectacular views of carved glacial valleys, turquoise lakes, and lateral moraines. The drive south along the Turnagain Arm to the visitor center will have remarkable views of the ocean and the lush Chugach National Forest, America's second-largest national forest. Start with video and presentation at the visitor center followed by exhibits and picnic lunch lakeside. Forest Service Ecologists and Rangers will lead a group hike to the Byron Glacier Trail (0.8 mi one-way, ~100ft elevation change) in the afternoon with multiple stops along the way. There will also be the opportunity to see a large population of the Pale Poppy (Papaver alboroseum), a rarely encountered species.

Visitor Center is ADA compliant. The hiking trail is considered very low difficulty. Please wear sturdy shoes and bring weather-appropriate clothing.

FT - 5 Alpine Bryophyte and Lichen Communities of the Chugach Mountains

Trip Leader(s): James Walton and Martin Hutten, National Park Service

8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Fee:  $100.00 - includes continental breakfast, boxed lunch, water, and permits

Flattop is Alaska’s most popular peak and the quickest way to access the alpine environment from Anchorage. On clear days, Flattop offers spectacular panoramic views of Denali and the Alaska Range, Cook Inlet, and the majestic volcanoes of the Aleutian Range. The trailhead is located at Glen Alps, a 20-minute drive from downtown Anchorage, and the aptly named mountain summit is reached by following a well-maintained 2.4 km (1.5 mile) system of trails.

The hike begins at treeline but soon ventures into graminoid meadow, low ericaceous shrub, and herbaceous tundra. At higher elevations, rocky outcrops and talus slopes offer even more habitat to explore. Geologically the area is a chaotic mix of morainal and colluvial deposits, principally from weakly metamorophosed siltstone, sandstone, greywacke, arkose, conglomerate sandstone, and greenstones commonly associated with chert and argillite. This trip is a great opportunity to explore a diversity of nonvascular taxa that occur across southcentral Alaska alpine environments.

Hiking will be easy to moderate/difficult at higher elevations. Sturdy footwear, bug protection, 2L of water, snacks, and appropriate clothing for changing weather are recommended.

FT - 6  Alaska Botanical Garden - Saturday

Trip Leader(s): Alaska Botanical Garden Staff

10:00 am - 12:00 noon
Fee:  $35.00 Includes transportation, water, and entrance fee

The Alaska Botanical Garden consists of 110 acres of boreal forest with approximately 8 acres of cultivated gardens and interconnecting nature trails. The Garden hosts over 1,100 varieties of annual and perennial plants hardy in Southcentral Alaska. There are about 150 species of Alaska native plants in the Garden. Each of the gardens has a particular emphasis or theme, such as the Herb Garden, Alpine Rock Garden, and Anchorage Heritage Garden. Guided tours are 1 hour in length and are led by one of the Garden’s Docents and or Staff. All tours meet in the retail nursery area near the Gift Shop.  A docent will guide you through the Lower Perennial Garden, Anchorage Heritage Garden, Rock Garden, Herb Garden, Lile’s Garden, Wildflower Trail, Trailside Gardens, and Greenhouse. The tour follows the paved half-mile loop through Boreal Forest.

The trip is ADA accessible.