The Telaquana Trail is an historic Dena'ina Athabascan route from Telaquana Lake to Kijik Village on Lake Clark. Early western explorers noted that the Inland Dena'ina were expert hikers, and trails connected all major villages in the area to each other and to seasonal camps. The Telaquana trail is part of a larger network crossing Dena'ina territory on the upper Alaska Peninsula.
In the historic period and likely before, the trail served as both transportation corridor and important subsistence area. Early visitors to the region reported that people from Kijik village spent much of the year hunting in the mountains north of the village. Miners, trappers and explorers also occasionally used the trail throughout the 1800s and early 1900s.
Dena'ina use of the Telaquana Trail declined in the early part of the 20th century when introduced diseases decimated the population and villages moved or consolidated. After the decline of the fur trade in the 1940s, use by trappers dropped off. Sections of the trail were occasionally used by hunters and fishermen, but the entire route was rarely traveled.
As interested in the wilderness increased in the 1960s and 1970s, hikers and hunters began to use the trail again. Today the Telaquana Trail is mostly traveled by intrepid backpackers.
In recent years there has been a renewal of interest in the rich cultural history of the Telaquana Trail. Dena'ina elders have shared traditional names for features along the route with the Place Names Project, a cooperative effort between Lake Clark National Park and Preserve and the State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Subsistence. The University of Alaska Fairbanks' Project Jukebox has recorded elders describing the trail.
The Telaquana Trail has been designated both an Historic District and a Cultural Landscape.
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Did You Know?
Willow ptarmigan, found across southwest Alaska, are white in the winter and brown in the summer. These notoriously slow birds need extra camouflage from predators!