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Refuge is wilderness playground

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

Encompassing more than 1.9 million acres, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has enough room to accommodate thousands of yearly human visitors, as well as the hundreds of plant and animal species who call the refuge home.

Stretching from Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage to the mountains south of Kachemak Bay on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, the refuge is a vast wilderness area. Included in the refuge's expanse are the peninsula's two largest lakes, Tustumena and Skilak, much of the Kenai and Kasilof river drainages and large areas of the Kenai Mountains.

The refuge is vital to the health of the peninsula's wildlife populations and home to brown and black bears, caribou, moose, lynx, coyotes, loons, eagles, Dall sheep, mountain goats, wolves, salmon and trout.

You will find wildlife displays and visitor information at the refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna, or call 262-7021.

Hiking opportunities range from nature and cross-country ski trails around the refuge headquarters to steep hikes in the Kenai Mountains. There also are numerous public campgrounds and boat launches.

The Russian River, which forms the boundary between the refuge and Chugach National Forest, hosts one of Alaska's most popular sockeye salmon fisheries. There also is good sockeye and silver salmon fishing from the banks of the Kenai River.

But sockeye are far from the only sportfishing fare. The Swan Lake and Swanson River Canoe Trails offer rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. There are grayling in lower Fuller Lake, about 1.5 miles up the Fuller Lakes Trail beginning at Mile 57 of the Sterling Highway.

Those with boats will find lake trout, Dolly Varden and salmon as well has hiking trails and public-use cabins, some historic on Hidden, Skilak and Tustumena lakes.

The refuge provides abundant opportunities for hunting and wildlife watching. Round Mountain near the Fuller Lakes is an excellent place to spot Dall sheep. Watch from the Fuller Lakes Trail or the parking area by the Russian River ferry. Trumpeter swans visit the lower Moose River, Watson Lake and lakes along the canoe trails.

All-terrain vehicles, water-skiing and jet skies are banned on the refuge. Snowmachines, motorized boats and aircraft are allowed only in specific areas. Bicycles are allowed, but are banned from the refuge trail system.

Encompassing more than 1.9 million acres, the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge has enough room to accommodate thousands of yearly human visitors, as well as the hundreds of plant and animal species who call the refuge home.

Stretching from Turnagain Arm south of Anchorage to the mountains south of Kachemak Bay on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula, the refuge is a vast wilderness area. Included in the refuge's expanse are the peninsula's two largest lakes, Tustumena and Skilak, much of the Kenai and Kasilof river drainages and large areas of the Kenai Mountains.

The refuge is vital to the health of the peninsula's wildlife populations and home to brown and black bears, caribou, moose, lynx, coyotes, loons, eagles, Dall sheep, mountain goats, wolves, salmon and trout.

You will find wildlife displays and visitor information at the refuge headquarters on Ski Hill Road in Soldotna, or call 262-7021.

Hiking opportunities range from nature and cross-country ski trails around the refuge headquarters to steep hikes in the Kenai Mountains. There also are numerous public campgrounds and boat launches.

The Russian River, which forms the boundary between the refuge and Chugach National Forest, hosts one of Alaska's most popular sockeye salmon fisheries. There also is good sockeye and silver salmon fishing from the banks of the Kenai River.

But sockeye are far from the only sportfishing fare. The Swan Lake and Swanson River Canoe Trails offer rainbow trout and Dolly Varden. There are grayling in lower Fuller Lake, about 1.5 miles up the Fuller Lakes Trail beginning at Mile 57 of the Sterling Highway.

Those with boats will find lake trout, Dolly Varden and salmon as well has hiking trails and public-use cabins, some historic on Hidden, Skilak and Tustumena lakes.

The refuge provides abundant opportunities for hunting and wildlife watching. Round Mountain near the Fuller Lakes is an excellent place to spot Dall sheep. Watch from the Fuller Lakes Trail or the parking area by the Russian River ferry. Trumpeter swans visit the lower Moose River, Watson Lake and lakes along the canoe trails.

All-terrain vehicles, water-skiing and jet skies are banned on the refuge. Snowmachines, motorized boats and aircraft are allowed only in specific areas. Bicycles are allowed, but are banned from the refuge trail system.



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