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Getting tired of town? Take a hike

Posted: Monday, April 05, 2004

Perhaps the best way to truly experience the Kenai Peninsula is on foot. From rugged mountain day hikes to quiet strolls along city streets to walks along the beach, there's something for anyone wishing to stretch their legs and catch a glimpse of Alaska from the ground up.

In the forests and hills, watch for moose, Dall sheep, caribou and bears. From the beach, keep an eye out for beluga whales, sea otters, salmon and seals. Across the peninsula, hiking trails offer the chance to pick berries, photograph wildflowers or seek a quiet fishing spot.

For detailed information on where to go and what to see, call the Kenai National Wild-life Refuge at 262-7021, the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center at 283-1991, Kachemak Bay State Park at 235-7024, Chugach National Forest at 224-3374 and Kenai Fjords National Park at 224-3175.

The following are a few suggestions of some of the more popular area hikes to help get you on your way. Happy trails!

Resurrection Pass Trail

This historic mining trail runs 38.5 miles through Chugach National Forest, from Mile 52 of the Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing to Mile 4 of Resurrection Creek Road in Hope. Don't miss Juneau Creek Falls, a roaring cataract 4.5 miles from the Cooper Landing trail head.

Kenai River Trail

This is an easy 2.8-mile hike. To find the trail head, turn south on Skilak Lake Road at Mile 58 of the Sterling Highway and drive just over a half-mile. The walk includes canyon, forest, river, meadows, wildflowers and berries. Beware of bears.

Kenai Old Town

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center offers a self-guided tour of the city's historic Old Town, offering views of Fort Kenay, two Russian Orthodox churches, historic Kenai buildings and the Kenai beach. Stop by the visitors center on the Kenai Spur Highway to pick up a map and instructions for this easy, informative walk into Kenai's past.

Skyline Trail

If getting above the trees is your goal, this trail climbs more than 2,500 feet in less than two miles.

Park on the south side of the Sterling Highway at Mile 61 and cross the road to the trail head. The trail is steep and can be slippery, but the view is worth the effort.

Exit Glacier-Harding Icefield Trail

These hikes near Seward offer views of glacial ice. It is a half-mile to the glacier, but hikers can travel up to 7.5 miles round trip. From Mile 3.7 of the Seward Highway, turn west onto Exit Glacier Road. Go 8.9 miles to a parking area. A paved path leads to the ranger station and the start of the ice. The Harding Icefield Trail runs along the north side of the glacier.

Kachemak Bay State Park

Close to 75 miles of trails cross this park on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. There is no road access. Water taxis from Homer take hikers to the trail heads.

It's about three level miles from Glacier Spit to the lake at the foot of Grewingk Glacier. Another trail runs 4.9 miles from the mouth of Humpy Creek to the northeast side of the glacier. Other trails breach the tree line.

Perhaps the best way to truly experience the Kenai Peninsula is on foot. From rugged mountain day hikes to quiet strolls along city streets to walks along the beach, there's something for anyone wishing to stretch their legs and catch a glimpse of Alaska from the ground up.

In the forests and hills, watch for moose, Dall sheep, caribou and bears. From the beach, keep an eye out for beluga whales, sea otters, salmon and seals. Across the peninsula, hiking trails offer the chance to pick berries, photograph wildflowers or seek a quiet fishing spot.

For detailed information on where to go and what to see, call the Kenai National Wild-life Refuge at 262-7021, the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center at 283-1991, Kachemak Bay State Park at 235-7024, Chugach National Forest at 224-3374 and Kenai Fjords National Park at 224-3175.

The following are a few suggestions of some of the more popular area hikes to help get you on your way. Happy trails!

Resurrection Pass Trail

This historic mining trail runs 38.5 miles through Chugach National Forest, from Mile 52 of the Sterling Highway in Cooper Landing to Mile 4 of Resurrection Creek Road in Hope. Don't miss Juneau Creek Falls, a roaring cataract 4.5 miles from the Cooper Landing trail head.

Kenai River Trail

This is an easy 2.8-mile hike. To find the trail head, turn south on Skilak Lake Road at Mile 58 of the Sterling Highway and drive just over a half-mile. The walk includes canyon, forest, river, meadows, wildflowers and berries. Beware of bears.

Kenai Old Town

The Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center offers a self-guided tour of the city's historic Old Town, offering views of Fort Kenay, two Russian Orthodox churches, historic Kenai buildings and the Kenai beach. Stop by the visitors center on the Kenai Spur Highway to pick up a map and instructions for this easy, informative walk into Kenai's past.

Skyline Trail

If getting above the trees is your goal, this trail climbs more than 2,500 feet in less than two miles.

Park on the south side of the Sterling Highway at Mile 61 and cross the road to the trail head. The trail is steep and can be slippery, but the view is worth the effort.

Exit Glacier-Harding Icefield Trail

These hikes near Seward offer views of glacial ice. It is a half-mile to the glacier, but hikers can travel up to 7.5 miles round trip. From Mile 3.7 of the Seward Highway, turn west onto Exit Glacier Road. Go 8.9 miles to a parking area. A paved path leads to the ranger station and the start of the ice. The Harding Icefield Trail runs along the north side of the glacier.

Kachemak Bay State Park

Close to 75 miles of trails cross this park on the south shore of Kachemak Bay. There is no road access. Water taxis from Homer take hikers to the trail heads.

It's about three level miles from Glacier Spit to the lake at the foot of Grewingk Glacier. Another trail runs 4.9 miles from the mouth of Humpy Creek to the northeast side of the glacier. Other trails breach the tree line.



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