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Wilderness wanderers have many trail options

Ways to walk

Posted: Monday, April 10, 2006

 

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  The sun rises above a stand of trees near Kenai. Photo by M. Scott Moon

Hikers are dwarfed by crevasses in the face of Exit Glacier Friday, Sept. 27, 2002, near Seward, Alaska. A trail follows the glacier four miles to its source in the Harding Ice Field.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

The hiking and biking trails on the peninsula offer access to many unique habitats and great opportunities for wildlife viewing.

“In a very short amount of time and elevation gain you can get above the tree line and into tundra,” said Scott Slavik, a backcountry ranger for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. “You sort of work your way through all of these different habitats.”

Just a few of the habitats hikers can explore on the peninsula include boreal forest, alpine scrub and tundra.

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, trails offer the chance to pick berries, photograph wildflowers and seek a quiet fishing spot.

For detailed information on where to go and what to see, call the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge at (907) 262-7021, the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center at (907) 283-1991, Kachemak Bay State Park at (907) 235-7024, Chugach National Forest at (907) 224-3374 and Kenai Fjords National Park at (907) 224-7500.

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 a canyon, forest, river, meadows, wildflowers and berries. Beware of bears.

Vista Trail

This trail rewards hikers willing to climb a few steep inclines with great panoramic views of Skilak Lake. The 1.5-mile trail is also a great place to spot black bear and moose due to recent fires that have cleared away trees. The trail head can be found at the Upper Skilak Campground.

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 views of 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.

 

The sun rises above a stand of trees near Kenai.

Photo by M. Scott Moon

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 on a trail above the glacier to the Harding Ice Field. 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 trail heads.

It’s about 3 level miles from the 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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