Small communities have big charm

Numerous little towns offer fishing, hiking, other attractions

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2004

From sportfishing centers to idyllic mountain retreats, the Kenai Peninsula offers a variety of small-town experiences away from its hub cities.

Hope The peninsula's northernmost community began as a gold rush boom town. Today, the 155 residents retain small mining and logging operations. Visitors to the picturesque town can tour the museum, pan for gold and mountain bike and hike the Resurrection Pass Trail.

Moose Pass This hamlet of 216 people is on the Seward Highway and offers views of the Alaska Railroad as it winds around mountains on the edge of town and of floatplanes landing and taking off from Trail Lake in the town's center.

It also hosts an annual summer solstice festival, this year on June 19 and 20.

Cooper Landing The Sterling Highway parallels the majestic Kenai River as it winds through this riverside mountain town offering splendid views of the river, Kenai Lake and the Kenai Mountains.

The town, with a population of 375, is home to many riverside lodges, fishing guide businesses and river rafting outfits.

Surrounded by the Chu-gach National Forest, it is near popular hiking trail heads and the famous Russian River fishery.

Sterling Sterling is home to just over 4,900 people and is the gateway to the Swanson River Canoe Trail System in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The confluence of the Kenai and Moose rivers attracts fishing, camping and boating en-thusiasts.

Nikiski Also known as North Kenai and Nikishka, it's home to about 4,400 people as well as the area's petrochemical industry. Recreation facilities include Captain Cook State Recreation Area north of town and the North Peninsula Recreation Center pool and water slide.

Kasilof Near the southern junction of the Sterling Highway and Kali-fornsky Beach Road, this town of around 500 people is the site of the annual Tustu-mena 200 Sled Dog Race each winter.

In summer, it's popular for tourists because of Tustu-mena Lake, and the Kasilof River offers a salmon fishery second only to the Kenai River.

Ninilchik The old Russian village and the landmark Russian Orthodox church with its onion-domed spires are favorites among photographers.

Anglers are lured to the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek for salmon fishing and to offshore charters for halibut. The Ninilchik Fair-grounds are host to the Kenai Peninsula Borough fair every summer.

This year, the fair will be Aug. 20, 21 and 22. The theme is the Days of Swine and Roses.

The library and a chamber of commerce kiosk across from the fairgrounds provide visitor information.

Anchor Point The westernmost point on the U.S. highway system, this town of just under 1,850 prides itself on the Anchor River's fly-fishing, steelhead trout and salmon runs. Events include fishing derbies for all ages, Fourth of July festivities and the winter Snow Rondi festival.

The Anchor Point Cham-ber of Commerce has a summer visitors center near the school.

Nikolaevsk This colony of Russian Old Believers has about 300 residents off North Fork Road east of Anchor Point.

The community's church has striking exterior icons. Shops sell handicrafts, such as embroidery and Russian souvenirs.

Halibut Cove A private Kachemak Bay ferry takes visitors from Homer to the cove, which welcomes folks with its lodges, art galleries and a gourmet restaurant. The 26 residents live in a splendid setting at the doorstep of Kachemak Bay State Park.

Seldovia This south Kachemak village of about 450 is one of the peninsula's most historic. The former fishing port reinvented itself as a tourist destination offering a Fourth of July bash and Summer Solstice Music Festival that includes music, workshops and a crafts fair. The old boardwalk, pocket parks and the Alaska Tribal Cache attract visitors. Seldovia offers access to Jakalof Bay, Red Mountain, Port Graham and Nanwalek.

From sportfishing centers to idyllic mountain retreats, the Kenai Peninsula offers a variety of small-town experiences away from its hub cities.

Hope The peninsula's northernmost community began as a gold rush boom town. Today, the 155 residents retain small mining and logging operations. Visitors to the picturesque town can tour the museum, pan for gold and mountain bike and hike the Resurrection Pass Trail.

Moose Pass This hamlet of 216 people is on the Seward Highway and offers views of the Alaska Railroad as it winds around mountains on the edge of town and of floatplanes landing and taking off from Trail Lake in the town's center.

It also hosts an annual summer solstice festival, this year on June 19 and 20.

Cooper Landing The Sterling Highway parallels the majestic Kenai River as it winds through this riverside mountain town offering splendid views of the river, Kenai Lake and the Kenai Mountains.

The town, with a population of 375, is home to many riverside lodges, fishing guide businesses and river rafting outfits.

Surrounded by the Chu-gach National Forest, it is near popular hiking trail heads and the famous Russian River fishery.

Sterling Sterling is home to just over 4,900 people and is the gateway to the Swanson River Canoe Trail System in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The confluence of the Kenai and Moose rivers attracts fishing, camping and boating en-thusiasts.

Nikiski Also known as North Kenai and Nikishka, it's home to about 4,400 people as well as the area's petrochemical industry. Recreation facilities include Captain Cook State Recreation Area north of town and the North Peninsula Recreation Center pool and water slide.

Kasilof Near the southern junction of the Sterling Highway and Kali-fornsky Beach Road, this town of around 500 people is the site of the annual Tustu-mena 200 Sled Dog Race each winter.

In summer, it's popular for tourists because of Tustu-mena Lake, and the Kasilof River offers a salmon fishery second only to the Kenai River.

Ninilchik The old Russian village and the landmark Russian Orthodox church with its onion-domed spires are favorites among photographers.

Anglers are lured to the Ninilchik River and Deep Creek for salmon fishing and to offshore charters for halibut. The Ninilchik Fair-grounds are host to the Kenai Peninsula Borough fair every summer.

This year, the fair will be Aug. 20, 21 and 22. The theme is the Days of Swine and Roses.

The library and a chamber of commerce kiosk across from the fairgrounds provide visitor information.

Anchor Point The westernmost point on the U.S. highway system, this town of just under 1,850 prides itself on the Anchor River's fly-fishing, steelhead trout and salmon runs. Events include fishing derbies for all ages, Fourth of July festivities and the winter Snow Rondi festival.

The Anchor Point Cham-ber of Commerce has a summer visitors center near the school.

Nikolaevsk This colony of Russian Old Believers has about 300 residents off North Fork Road east of Anchor Point.

The community's church has striking exterior icons. Shops sell handicrafts, such as embroidery and Russian souvenirs.

Halibut Cove A private Kachemak Bay ferry takes visitors from Homer to the cove, which welcomes folks with its lodges, art galleries and a gourmet restaurant. The 26 residents live in a splendid setting at the doorstep of Kachemak Bay State Park.

Seldovia This south Kachemak village of about 450 is one of the peninsula's most historic. The former fishing port reinvented itself as a tourist destination offering a Fourth of July bash and Summer Solstice Music Festival that includes music, workshops and a crafts fair. The old boardwalk, pocket parks and the Alaska Tribal Cache attract visitors. Seldovia offers access to Jakalof Bay, Red Mountain, Port Graham and Nanwalek.



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