The Gene and Mim Effler Trail is located on a beautiful 18-acre property on the bluff above Homer, in the Bridge Creek Watershed Protection District. Offering excellent bird and moose habitat, the property is being managed for habitat protection with a public use component, to uphold the Effler family’s wishes and achieve KHLT’s stewardship goals. The short, flat nature trail is accessible to those who are unable to enjoy Homer's longer and rougher trails.
On the north side of West Skyline Drive, about a mile west of the top of East Hill, the trailhead parking area can accommodate a few vehicles safely clear of the road. A flat gravel and boardwalk trail around 275 feet in length leads to a platform offering a 180° view of the property’s headwater fen, a peat-forming wetland that acts as a natural water purifier. The fen drains into a major tributary of Bridge Creek Reservoir, which holds Homer’s domestic water supply. Interpretive signs along the trail offer an educational outdoor experience for residents and visitors.
The Effler family generously donated the property to KHLT in 2007, with the hope of making the dreams of their parents come true. Gene and Mim Effler were among Homer’s first homesteaders, and Gene had a longtime dream of creating an educational nature trail for the Homer community on a portion of his original homestead. Related story
Kachemak Heritage Land Trust staff completed a comprehensive management plan over the winter of 2011-2012 for this sensitive and scenic property. Completion of the management plan was made possible by a generous cash donation from the Effler family, individual contributions, and grants from both the Mountaineers Foundation and The Pacific Coast Joint Venture.
A grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, was awarded to KHLT for development of an interpretive pedestrian-use nature trail with a small observation deck. This grant also provided funds to create controlled access to the property and discourage ATV intrusion, to ensure that the fragile wetlands are not disturbed.
Naturalists completed biological surveys in 2012, and interpretive signs for the trail and viewing platform were written by 2013 summer intern Axel Gillam, with assistance from Kachemak Bay Research Reserve staff member Jessica Ryan. The signs feature illustrations by local artists Lee Post and Catie Bursch, and naturalist/artist Adelaide Tyrol of Vermont and New York City. The boardwalk and viewing platform construction was completed during the summer of 2014, followed by the installation of the signs, a trailhead information kiosk, and viewing platform benches in the fall. A grand opening ceremony in May 2015 was attended by two Effler granchildren, and two great-grandchilden who cut the ribbon. Ribbon-cutting story
KHLT is indebted to the Effler family, and to all of the other generous people who shared their talents and resources to make this educational trail possible.