Kenai refuge is heart of western peninsula

Posted: Saturday, May 26, 2001

It hardly matters whether you are after fish, hiking, berries or caribou. You will find them all on the 1.9-million-acre Kenai National Wild-life Refuge, which reaches from Turnagain Arm to Sol-dotna, Skilak and Tustumena lakes and the mountains south of Kachemak Bay.

It is home to brown and black bears, herds of caribou, wolves, lynx, loons, eagles, Dall sheep and mountain goats. It includes much of the upper Kenai River drainage, including lakes and tributaries that produce much of Cook Inlet's abundant salmon. The refuge drew 533,000 visitors last year -- more than Denali National Park.

There are 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.

The Swan Lake and Swan-son River canoe trails offer rainbow trout and Dolly Var-den. 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, on Hidden, Skilak and Tustu-mena lakes.

The refuge provides abundant opportunities for hunting and wildlife watching. Round Mountain near Fuller Lakes is an excellent place to spot Dall sheep.

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, and bicycles are banned from refuge trails.

It hardly matters whether you are after fish, hiking, berries or caribou. You will find them all on the 1.9-million-acre Kenai National Wild-life Refuge, which reaches from Turnagain Arm to Sol-dotna, Skilak and Tustumena lakes and the mountains south of Kachemak Bay.

It is home to brown and black bears, herds of caribou, wolves, lynx, loons, eagles, Dall sheep and mountain goats. It includes much of the upper Kenai River drainage, including lakes and tributaries that produce much of Cook Inlet's abundant salmon. The refuge drew 533,000 visitors last year -- more than Denali National Park.

There are 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.

The Swan Lake and Swan-son River canoe trails offer rainbow trout and Dolly Var-den. 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, on Hidden, Skilak and Tustu-mena lakes.

The refuge provides abundant opportunities for hunting and wildlife watching. Round Mountain near Fuller Lakes is an excellent place to spot Dall sheep.

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, and bicycles are banned from refuge trails.



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