Erik Boraas, Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc., talks about the organization while walking along the newly reworked Switzer-Marriot Aquatic Education Trail in Switzer Creek on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Trail Mix’s annual fundraising dinner and auction is November 17 at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Erik Boraas, Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc., talks about the organization while walking along the newly reworked Switzer-Marriot Aquatic Education Trail in Switzer Creek on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Trail Mix’s annual fundraising dinner and auction is November 17 at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Trail Mix celebrates 25 years of work

Biggest trail maintenance organization in state hits milestone

Twenty-five years ago, Trail Mix, Inc. started as a group of volunteers who wanted to help maintain the miles and miles of trails around Juneau. Today, it’s the largest trail maintenance organization in Alaska.

All over the state, hiking trails cross between land owned by local, state and federal entities. Those governments can’t maintain parts of the trail owned by different departments, as Trail Mix Executive Director Erik Boraas explained, and a City and Borough of Juneau plan in 1992 stated that the city needed some kind of third-party group to dedicate itself to coordinate with all of those entities and work on the trails. The following year, Trail Mix was formed thanks to some CBJ money and a group of volunteers.

Boraas said the reason for the organization’s success is pretty simple.

“Community support,” Boraas said. “I think that’s what it is.”

The nonprofit is still mostly made of volunteers, but it has expanded into having the largest budget of any trail maintenance organization in the state, Boraas said. In recent years, they’ve done projects in Sitka, Prince of Wales Island, Cordova and elsewhere around the state.

George Schaaf, who was the executive director before Boraas and is currently the CBJ Parks and Recreation Director, said it’s unusual for a community of Juneau’s size to have an organization like Trail Mix. If you look a little closer, you can easily figure out why there’s so much community support.

In 2016, research firm McDowell Group did a survey for the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department that revealed that in the previous 12 months, 89 percent of Juneau residents had used a hiking trail and 78 percent of people in the survey ranked trails as a high or very high value for the community.

“You combine that with how tight-knit our community is,” Schaaf said.

There have been numerous examples over the years of how much trails and Trail Mix mean to Juneauites. This summer, when lumber was stolen from Trail Mix, the owners of Amalga Distillery donated enough money to purchase more equipment. Boraas also recalled a time when he heard about a couple getting engaged on a bridge that he helped install over Lawson Creek.

He has his own personal stories, too. Early in his time in Juneau, Boraas went running on the Treadwell Ditch Trail.

“I ran until I got to a big creek,” Boraas said. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool. I wish there was a bridge here. I want to continue on this trail.’”

A few years later, he helped put that bridge in.

The work on the Treadwell Ditch Trail has been going on since the mid-2000s, Boraas said, and people have talked about improving it since the 1970s. The hope, he said, is to have the full improvements (putting in bridges such as improving the tread) done in the next five years.

That project is one of the top ones on the organization’s priority list. Also on that list is a statewide master trails plan. Trail Mix Project Manager Ryan O’Shaughnessy said the goal of that is to make a list of trails that are priorities in different communities across the state, and sharing ideas about how to allocate funding and work on trails. The plan could also include legislative recommendations and ways to market the trails to attract visitors.

Trail Mix is holding its annual dinner and auction this Saturday from 6-9 p.m. at Centennial Hall. Tickets are $40 for members and $55 for non-members, and $10 for children between the ages of 2 and 10. Tickets usually go quickly, Boraas said. They’re available at Hearthside Books and the Juneau Arts and Humanities council, as well as online through the JAHC’s website.


• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.


Erik Boraas, Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc., left, and Ryan O’Shaughnessy come along vandalism along the newly reworked Switzer-Marriot Aquatic Education Trail in Switzer Creek on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Trail Mix’s annual fundraising dinner and auction is November 17 at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Erik Boraas, Executive Director of Trail Mix, Inc., left, and Ryan O’Shaughnessy come along vandalism along the newly reworked Switzer-Marriot Aquatic Education Trail in Switzer Creek on Monday, Nov. 12, 2018. Trail Mix’s annual fundraising dinner and auction is November 17 at Centennial Hall. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Mountain reflections are seen from the Mendenhall Wetlands. (Courtesy Photo / Denise Carroll)
Wild Shots: Photos of Mother Nature in Alaska

Superb reader-submitted photos of wildlife, scenery and/or plant life.

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire 
At Wednesday evening’s special Assembly meeting, the Assembly appropriated nearly $4 million toward funding a 5.5% wage increase for all CBJ employees along with a 5% increase to the employer health contribution. According to City Manager Rorie Watt, it doesn’t necessarily fix a nearly two decade-long issue of employee retention concerns for the city.
City funds wage increase amid worker shortage

City Manager says raise doesn’t fix nearly two decade-long issue of employee retainment

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Dec. 3

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)

 

2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.

 

3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

Most Read