John Hunter Memorial Trail
This trail was formerly known as the Solomon Gulch Trail. It begins in a beautiful coastal spruce forest and climbs steadily upward before it merges with the Trans Alaska Pipeline Service (TAPS) road (the actual pipeline is buried beneath the ground in this section). After crossing Solomon Gulch Creek it departs from TAPS and continues on up to Solomon Gulch. The trail ends at the reservoir overlook near the Solomon Gulch Spillway and Dam.
View full trail guide from Valdez Parks & Recreation
Time: 2 to 2.5 hours, round trip
Distance: 3.8 miles, round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Amenities: Picnic tables and covered pavilions are provided at the end of the trail at Solomon Lake.
How To Get There
This trail begins 4.6 miles down Dayville Road just before Allison Point (parking is on the left). The trail starts up a steep hill before joining the Alyeska Pipeline Maintenance Road. There is a sign-in sheet at the gate. The trail follows the road 0.8 miles up another steep hill and then down to a bridge over Solomon Gulch. A short 0.13 mile trail to the left leads to a viewing area for the Port of Valdez. The large penstocks overhead carry water to the new power station at the bottom of the gulch and are made from surplus Trans Alaskan Pipeline pipe. After passing under the penstocks, follow the hiking trail sign and turn right (away from the road and up the hill). The trail winds through a pipe storage yard and crosses another bridge before reaching Solomon Lake and its two dams. By looking up the lake, the access road to the mines can be faintly seen on the left side.
In 1915, an aerial tramway 5.25 miles long was put into operation and ran from the ocean beach, up Solomon Gulch, to the Midas Mine (Jumbo Claim). More than 1,000,000 pounds of copper was produced before closing down in 1919. The tram was powered by a local hydroelectric plant on Solomon Gulch. The present dam and power station were finished in 1982 and supply power to the Copper Valley areas during the summer months.
During construction of the Solomon Gulch Hydroelectric Project, over 100,000 cubic yards of rock were placed across Solomon Gulch Creek. The dam raised the water level to the naturally existing Solomon Gulch Lake, creating a reservoir able to store up to 10.3 billion gallons of water for hydroelectric power generation. The dam is designed to withstand an earthquake with the magnitude equal to the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that destroyed Old Valdez.
The Solomon Gulch Trail was recently renamed as the John Hunter Memorial Trail in honor of John Hunter (1950-1913) in recognition of 38 years of dedicated employment with Copper Valley Electric.
Solomon Lake in Winter. Photo by Jeremy Talbott.
Safety & Etiquette
This trail has steep incline, so please wear appropriate footwear. Hikers may occasionally encounter project vehicles on the trail. Avoid touching plants such as wild celery, which may cause skin irritation, and the prickly Devil's Club. As always, this is Alaska, so please remain bear aware.