Kenai Peninsula of Alaska: Dayhikes and Short Trips….

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    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Looks like I may be up working in the Kenai / Soldotna area for about a month this summer. I have been up to Alaska twice before but did not do much trekking on the Kenai Peninsula. Since I live in the boring Midwestern Flatlands, I will try my best to get out and enjoy a little of it while up there.

    The guidebook I have has some neat ideas for dayhikes and some 2-3 day trips. Some obvious choices are the Resurrection Pass Trail, Russian Lakes, etc.

    For those that have been there, what are some highlight areas you would highly recommend?

    1. Will probably be solo unless I make friends up there
    2. Easy and quick access from the Soldotna area
    3. Loops preferred (one vehicle)
    4. ~10-15mi per day max as I am not in top shape this year…
    5. Well established or easy to follow trails (not enough time for bush whacking)


    John Smith
    BPL Member


    Locale: East of Cascades

    short trip . . . . Hike from Johnson Lake to Johnson pass and back. Wonderful fly fishing in the pass if you are into that sort of thing. around 12 miles to the pass. Beautiful and easy to follow trail.

    cooper landing to anywhere on the Resurection pass system. North or south will be beautiful.

    My favorite hike there is to drive to Seward (about 2 hours) or so. Then hike from the end of Seward to Caines Head. Gorgeous and fairly simple hike, but you will need a tide chart. Short ans sweet.

    Climb a mountain in Seward area . . . Try Mt Marathon but remember it is also fairly dangerous above the race summit.

    Drive south to Homer (90 minutes) and there are tons of trails in the area. I am not very familiar with those though.

    Ther are of course the Kenai Canoe Lake Trails. Rent a canoe, life vest and go out and enjoy some of the most beautiful canoe country in the world.

    Enjoy your time and remember to bring the mosquito dope

    Luke Schmidt
    BPL Member


    Locale: Alaska

    +1 for Mount Marathon.

    The hike up to Exit Glacier is a good day hike, there was a lot of snow when we went, don't know if that would be an issue or not when you're there. Great views.

    Philip Tschersich
    BPL Member


    Locale: Kodiak Alaska

    Okay, those other suggestions don't suck, but also don't measure up to hiking the Primrose Tr up to Lost Lake (from the Primrose Campground on the southern arm of Kenai Lake on the Seward highway, hiking south to Lost Lake). Once you are there, do a day hike around the base of the prominent mountain (unnamed, 4,732') just northwest of the lake (no trail; OMG, route finding in Alaska!). Hike out on the 3rd day. The place will make your head explode (in a good way). Seward is not known for its lovely weather, so choose a reasonably sunny 3 days or you won't see a lot.

    Lost Lake/Primrose

    Not a lot of loops on the Kenai, but if you hitchhike you can do point-to-point hike variations on the Resurrection Tr. It's a wide, easy, well traveled trail, but pretty. We got serenaded by wolves up there one night. Kind of neat.

    Definitely rent a canoe in Soldatna and do the Swan Lake or Swanson Lake canoe routes in the Kenai Peninsula National Wildlife Refuge as day loops, or camp overnight. SOOOOOOO COOOL!

    Swan Lake

    Swanson Lake

    While I normally consider 'cruises' the antithesis of outdoor adventure, doing a day-long Kenai Fjords cruise into Aialik Bay or Northwestern Fjord in Kenai Fjords NP is something you may never forget (again, in a good way). KFNP is one of the coolest places I have ever visited in AK, and I've seen a few things.

    Here is trip report I did on West Coast Paddler of a sea kayak trip I did from Homer to Seward around the Kenai Peninsula if you want a feel for the place.

    Paddling from Homer to Seward

    Dan Quixote
    BPL Member


    Locale: below the mountains (AK)

    These are all excellent suggestions! As an Anchorage resident, my primary place to play is in the Chugach between Anchorage, Eagle River, and Girdwood (it's a big, wonderful triangle), but I have a special place in my heart for the Lost Lake trail and Caines Head down in Seward. The Lost Lake trail is the most beautifully crafted trail I personally have seen, and the scenery is also excellent. I circumnavigated the lake in a snowstorm last October, and I just love the place. I dream of hiking up there and bushwhacking down Martin Creek to the Resurrection River trail out from Exit Glacier. It's not uncommon for folks to hike from one TH (Lost Lake, Primrose) to the other and then hitch back to their cars.

    Caines Head is a fun hike out to the beaches, but if you want to see some scenic sights that will 'splode your cerebellum go up the Alpine Trail. You get an extraordinary view of a bunch of forested islands, and also a great view of the valley going behind the mountains. I went up there once, briefly, in 2011, and I've wanted to go back ever since, and bring friends to share it with. Also, even up the Alpine trail is only like 5-6 miles, I think, though timing things with the tide can be a touch tricky.

    Hope this helps!

    daniel B


    Locale: East Coast

    Putting this area on my bucket list to do real soon. Just out of curiosity, what are the logistics to get in and out of this area if flying in from the lower 48? I checked airfare out of Pittsburgh, Pa and it was less than $800 RT, but adding a vehicle put it into the 2K range. I'd def like to do a boating and hiking Trip in the Kenai area.

    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    Thanks! This is exactly what I was looking for, especially from those that are up there. My head is already about to explode from the nearly infinite possibilities to have fun. Recreation is not the focus of this trip so I must choose wisely. Hopefully I make some friends up there to do stuff with.

    Will try and check out the Lost Lake area and Caines Head if I get down towards Seward again, that looks really neat.

    Phillip, that trip report is EPIC! Brings back memories of my other trips up there.

    Canoeing in the Swan Lake area looks fun but I will probably be solo much of the time making hiking more feasible.

    Has anyone done the Skyline trail and over the ridges near Fuller Lake between Cooper Landing and Sterling? It was recommended by the outfitter up there.

    Neat little side story to tease Daniel B:

    I have been sea kayak camping in Northwestern Fjord at KFNP. It was one of the neatest experiences I ever had. One day we were eating lunch in the rain on some rocks not far from the glacier in the northeastern corner. A day cruise boat went by and the people aboard were waving at us. Despite the miserable hypothermic conditions and low morale, we all jumped up with arms in the air shouting and cheering back. The boat then started cheering back at us. Awesome. One of the guys caught a salmon in a stream with his bare hands, we ate it for dinner. We saw a chunk of ice the size of a large house break off the glacier behind our camp and fall hundreds of feet shattering to pieces. Do some planning, take some friends. Pack your bags and go.

    daniel B


    Locale: East Coast

    Thanks Ryan – I'm hitting my mid-life crisis (I think I've always been like this actually) and want to do so much before I cant really do it anymore. I'm at a point in life were a really want to see places like Kenai but really don't have any "friends" who'll do these type of trips. I was lucky enough to find someone on this forum a few years ago to do part of the SHR with me and it was a blast and made a new friend out of it.

    Make sure you keep us updated on your journey to Kenai and post pics please. One last thing about this area. I do have friends who will shell out 4-5K to go to Alaska, but its with a "high end" tour company were they shuttle you around and eat at the best places and sleep in comfy beds……. to me that's not adventure, I want to pack the food that I'm going to eat on my back, take a dump where ever and bathe in the next stream/lake !

    Ryan C
    BPL Member


    Locale: United States

    I hear ya. We had a group of 12 go up to AK a couple years ago. It took over a year of planning to pull together all the logistics for a ~3 week trip in three different regions, numerous float and bush plane flights, camping permits, etc. But we did it all ourselves and had the trip of a lifetime (for some) for about $3.5k a piece. A guided trip of similar caliber would have cost $10k each. I don't think we could ever make the same exact trip happen again like that. But we also had a rigorous schedule to keep in order for it to flow right.

    This trip is primarily for work and I will do what I can to fit in some of this fun stuff.

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