Across the bay from Homer, Kachemak Bay State Park tempts hikers to explore numerous easy and difficult trails. Here are some pointers on how to make the most of your hike, and stay safe while doing so:
Rugged Trails with Beautiful Views
There are over 25 miles of trails in the park, many accessed by boat only. They range from easy to difficult. Many climb over steep, rugged terrain and offer excellent views. Others wind through coastal forest and meadows. Many of the trails are passable but challenging. There are areas of exposed rocks, roots, wet boggy areas, downed trees or tall grass.
Trails are Marked
Trails and trailheads are marked with orange triangle signs with a "T" in the center.
Prepare for Weather
Hikers are warned to be prepared for bad weather and to pack out everything they carry in to keep the park clean.
Fires are allowed only on gravel bars and beaches, and in fire grates provided at campsites, below timberline.
Store Food Properly
Campers are advised to hang their food at least 15 feet off the ground, well away from camp, out of the reach of bears.
Treat Your Water
They are also told that water they find must be treated before drinking or using for cooking. Wash water must be thrown out at least 200 feet from water sources so as to avoid contamination.
Register Before Your Hike
Campers are urged to use the trail registers to aid in management, maintenance and search and rescue in case someone is overdue. They are also advised to leave a written trip plan with family or friends as well as park rangers before embarking on a hike.
Respect Private Property
There are some private property parcels in the park which are well marked and should be avoided. Commercial operators must have permits to operate within the park units.
Access Trails by Boat or Plane
All trailheads are accessed by boat or plane. Several trailheads have mooring buoys offshore where boats can be tied up. Mooring buoys are located off the Saddle Trailhead, Rusty's Lagoon, Halibut Cove Lagoon, China Poot Lake Trailhead & Coalition Trail and in Tutka Bay near the public use cabin. Boat operators are told not to tie up to the ring on top of the buoy but rather to tie up to the small float and ring attached to the anchor chain. These buoys are suitable for vessels up to 35 feet in length. Officials warn, "Do not tie up next to a vessel already at anchor on a buoy without the express permission of the vessel's operator."
Prepare for River Crossings
Some of the hikes require crossing glacial streams. Glacial rivers vary in depth and current depending on the weather, but the water level is often lower in mornings than later in the day, due to nightly freezing at higher elevations. Water levels are generally lower in early summer and much higher in July and August. The hiker should cross at a slow-moving, shallow spot. Wearing a pair of neoprene booties or tennis shoes will make crossing these icy rivers easier.