The Pioneer Ridge Trail is a challenging trail that starts near sea level and gains roughly a vertical mile, bringing you to the top of Pioneer Ridge. The Pioneer Ridge Vertical Mile Race is an annual mountain running race that typically takes place on the second Sunday in July. It is an uphill only race with the fastest times coming in at around 70 minutes.
The beginning of the Pioneer Ridge Trail switchbacks through the forest to treeline at about 2000 feet, crossing several small streams along the way that can get quite muddy. Continuing above treeline, the trail straightens out, and you pass through a hillside prairie. Two trailside picnic tables provide good resting spots, where you can take in views of Matanuska Peak and Knik Glacier while you refuel.
The top of the ridge reveals a beautiful valley between Eklutna and Pioneer, and it provides options for those wanting to proceed further—head north on the ridge to Pioneer Peak or head south toward Yudikench Peak. Both are ambitious goals.
At the time of this writing,pioneerverticalmile.com
was not established yet, but is intended to be the official website for the Vertical Mile Race. The official date for 2018 also has not been announced yet, but July 8 is the likely date. The entry fee is only $5 and sign ups are held the day of the race.
This trail has an intermediate/black diamond rating due to its length and grade.