Popular with fishermen, hikers, bikers, birders, and hunters , this trail offers many of the Kenai Peninsula’s highlights in one trip. After all, the 21-mile trail accesses Russian River Falls, Lower and Upper Russian Lakes, Cooper Lake, 3 federally managed recreational cabins, and numerous campsites.
Fish Photo Ops
The biggest draw for users in the summer, though, is certainly the Russian River Falls and fish counting station, both of which are good bets for salmon viewing, and lie just 2.4 miles from the lower trailhead. At the falls, you can walk out on decks that are partially suspended over the water, which makes for great photo ops photos of airborne fish.
Easy Access and Camping
The first few miles of trail from the Russian River Campground into the lake are wide with a gravel base, which makes them suitable for biking and those with disabilities. A couple of nice campsites sit opposite the fish counting site at the outflow of Russian Lake, but if you choose to camp here you should be especially vigilant about bear safety, because the bruins come from miles around to feed and there is likely at least one nearby.
Continue on around Russian Lake on a narrower trail that will bring you to a forest service cabin at the far end of the lake, situated on a small, peaceful point with tall spruce trees around it. From the cabin, continue on into the mountains on a circuit that eventually brings you to Cooper Lake and the northern terminus of the trail. In the fall, this area hosts quite a few hunting parties with pack animals, so be aware of the possibility for added traffic and offer the right-of-way, especially if you’re biking.
Distance: 21 miles