“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Near Valdez in Valdez Cordova Borough, Alaska — The American West (Northwest)

Goat Trail

Goat Trail Marker image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2010
1. Goat Trail Marker
Inscription. The U.S. Army arrived at Valdez during the Gold Rush to build a trail into the interior. They found the Valdez Glacier impassable much of the year. To bypass the glacier, they cut a narrow trail along the walls of rugged Keystone Canyon. The “Goat Trail” quickly became a popular route to the interior.

There Must be a Better Way
In 1898 the Army found a route though Keystone Canyon as an alternative to Valdez Glacier. Despite dense vegetation, high walls, and a fast, icy river, a crew led by Corporal Robert Heiden hacked a rough trail through snarls of alder bushes and thorny devilís club.

Improving the Trail
The next year, Congress appropriated money to build the Trans-Alaska Military Road linking Fort Liscum at Valdez with Fort Egbert at Eagle City on the Yukon River. Improving Heidenís four mile canyon trail with only saws, axes, picks, shovels, and sledge hammers took 35 days. Axmen hung onto brush with one hand and chopped with the other. The section above where you are standing became known as the Goat Trail for its location along the edge of the canyon walls.

True to its Name
The Goat Trail was difficult, but safer in the summer than crossing Valdez Glacier: Winter travelers preferred the frozen river through Keystone
Horsetail Falls image. Click for full size.
By Barry Swackhamer, June 24, 2010
2. Horsetail Falls
Canyon or the glacier route until the trail was improved to a wagon road. Replace after World War II, by the present highway, the Goat Trail is now a hiking trail. It begins 200 feet to the left.
Erected by Alaska Gold Rush Centennial.
Location. 61° 4.197′ N, 145° 53.904′ W. Marker is near Valdez, Alaska, in Valdez Cordova Borough. Marker is on Richardson Highway (Alaska Route 4 at milepost 13.9). Click for map. The Richardson Highway mile posts were established before the 1964 Good Friday earthquake destroyed the town of Valdez. 'Old' Valdez was abandoned and 'New' Valdez was established four miles further down the road, thus the mile post for 'New' Valdez is -4 miles. Marker is in this post office area: Valdez AK 99686, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 2 other markers are within one mile of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Old Railroad Tunnel (approx. one mile away); Horse and Sled Trail (approx. 1.1 miles away).
Categories. MilitaryRoads & Vehicles
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. This page has been viewed 515 times since then and 101 times this year. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Barry Swackhamer of San Jose, California. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
Editor’s want-list for this marker. Wide area view of the marker and its surroundings. • Additional views of and from the trail. • Can you help?
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