Since the Homer Demonstration Forest (HDF) was established, many dedicated volunteers have advocated for and diligently worked toward making the area more accessible, enjoyable and educational for visitors. Volunteers such as Dave Brann, a long-time Homer resident and retired Homer High School teacher, have sweated out countless hours developing, maintaining and improving the hiking, skiing and interpretative trails of the HDF.
Visitors to the HDF find themselves in a very different place depending on whether they arrive during the summer or during the winter. The Homer District primarily focuses on the summer trail system, improving recreational opportunities for area residents. To date, several trail development and hardening methods have been attempted. In particularly sensitive areas (such as along the Diamond Creek riverbank) extensive boardwalks have been built. Several lowland trail stretches have been hardened by laying down typar, covering it with wood chips made from beetle-killed spruce trees, and using culverts to facilitate water transport. Many areas have been protected by the installation of elevated planks that allow for the crossing of wetlands.
The HSWCD has been the recipient of several grants to help fund trail improvement s in the HDF. In partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service the District installed a 2,500 ft boardwalk along the Summer Trail. This project has greatly improved the summer trail, featuring a pleasant 5 km loop from the Rodgers Loop trail head. This hike will lead you through the muskeg, then upward along Diamond Creek into a meadow offering magnificent views of Kachemak Bay. After crossing the meadow the trail meanders back down along the forest on east side of the HDF and merges with the trail leading back to the trailhead.
In 2009 the District completed a two year trail improvement project funded through the State of Alaska Recreational Trails Program. This project focused on improvements to the self-guided nature trail (see link below) and portions of the Homestead hiking trail. To download a map of the trail system clink on the link below.
Map of the Summer Trail System
Self-Guided Nature Trail Guide
An arboretum is an outdoor laboratory where trees, shrubs and other woody plants are grown under natural conditions for exhibition or study. The mission of the arboretum is to promote the knowledge and appreciation of trees, shrubs and other plants for enjoyment, inspiration and recreation; for scientific research; and for educational and aesthetic purposes.
The HDF Arboretum is a one-quarter-acre parcel that was cleared of spruce bark beetle infested trees and prepared as a site for the planting of approximately 50-100 native and non-native trees. These trees are protected from foraging animals by an 8-foot tall fence that encompasses the entire site. Visitors are encouraged to tour the area and learn firsthand which species do best in Homer’s coastal climate. The Arboretum’s development was made possible through support from the Global Releaf foundation, the Homer Demonstration Forest Steering Committee, the Homer Soil and Water Conservation District, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Alaska Division of Forestry, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the Volunteer efforts of Terry Anderson, Steve Gibson and Dave Brann.