Kenai Peninsula Parks & Trails

The Johnson Pass, Resurrection Pass, and Russian Lakes-to-Resurrection River trails of the Kenai Peninsula make up Alaska's most developed trail system. Turn of-the-century prospectors blazed these trails and carried millions of dollars of gold over them. The well-worn footpaths climb through forested valleys to open meadows shimmering with wildflowers and gem-colored lakes. Bridges make it one of Alaska's few regions where you can keep your socks dry.

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Parks & Trails

Difficulty: Moderate

The 23-mile John­son Pass Trail offers hik­ers, back­pack­ers and bik­ers a well-marked route through a lush pass in the Kenai Moun­tains — fea­tur­ing grad­ual climbs, two lakes with fish, spec­tac­u­lar peaks and some way cool gorges.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles Elevation Gain: 3600 feet

This fam­i­ly-friend­ly, 2.5‑mile trail climbs 3,600 feet to a sum­mit halfway between the sea and the heavens

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 11 miles

If you have some out­door expe­ri­ence and an adven­tur­ous spir­it, con­sid­er this 11-mile tra­verse up the Col­orado Creek val­ley and down the Sum­mit Creek. Begin­ning 2 hours south of Anchor­age, this tra­verse doesn’t involve any rock scram­bling, riv­er cross­ings, or ardu­ous bush­whack­ing. But if you feel com­fort­able hik­ing in wide and track­less coun­try, you may reap the reward of hav­ing an entire val­ley to yourself.

This wildlife sweet spot is worth a vis­it. The Russ­ian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russ­ian Riv­er Camp­ground in Coop­er Land­ing, at mile­post 52 of the Ster­ling High­way. Get off-the-beat­en path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the imme­di­ate reward of spec­tac­u­lar salmon viewing. 

Difficulty: Easy

From the base of the Homer Spit, take this 4‑mile paved trail to the Nick Dudi­ak Fish­ing Lagoon. The trail is in excel­lent con­di­tion and is flat as a pan­cake for most of its length. The first mile of trail is along a broad estu­ary that is great for bird­ing. Once you pass the one-mile mark you’ll be rid­ing past fish­ing boats that are out of the water being worked on as well as a few shops.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

Prob­a­bly the sec­ond most trav­eled trail in the park, this trail offers a great day hike for those spend­ing time in the lagoon. You can start hik­ing the trail from the ranger sta­tion or the trail­head in Hal­ibut Cove Lagoon. The trail tra­vers­es up numer­ous switch­backs to a place called First Lake. On a hot sum­mer day, a soak in this lake can’t be beat.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 6 miles

This trail is a good day hike for the whole fam­i­ly. It alter­nates between open mead­ows and forests and offers the option of tent camp­ing or stay­ing in Cres­cent Lake Cab­in. There are options for longer hikes and there is a lot of wildlife to be seen such as moose, goats and bears.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 38 miles

This 38 mile long USFS trail climbs Res­ur­rec­tion Pass (elev. 2,600) and descends to the north to anoth­er trail­head­trail­head near Hope on Tur­na­gain Arm. There are 8 pub­lic use cab­ins along the trail, mak­ing this an advanced but com­fort­able day cab­in-to-cab­in hike. There are also 19 camp­sites avail­able along the trail.

This 0.4‑mile-long trail, which begins with­in earshot of down­town Homer, plays host to a vari­ety of birds and plants. Wheel­chairs may have some trou­ble in the first few feet of soft grav­el, but once they reach the plas­tic board­walk they should find the going much eas­i­er — and maybe worth the trou­ble it took to dri­ve 4 hours from Anchorage.

Difficulty: Moderate

If you have the abil­i­ty to trans­port bicy­cles, this trail makes for a great after­noon trip. The dirt path winds through the Portage Val­ley, pass­ing glacial lakes and end­ing at Portage Lake (this part of the trip is 5 miles each way). Make sure to bring your cam­era: you’ll see hang­ing glac­i­ers and, very like­ly, some wildlife.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 10 miles

Well-main­tained and suit­able for sum­mer hik­ing and bik­ing, the 10-mile Devil’s Pass Trail fea­tures a steep route up a spec­tac­u­lar V‑shaped val­ley that inter­sects with the Res­ur­rec­tion Pass Trail and a rental cab­in in the alpine realm. The coun­try is rugged, with great access to cross-coun­try tun­dra explo­ration and berry picking.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

Your best bet for this trail is to go out on one low tide, spend the night — in either a for­est ser­vice cab­in or camp­site — and then return the fol­low­ing day or sev­er­al days lat­er on anoth­er low tide. Great for­est-to-beach hik­ing trail.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 21 miles

Pop­u­lar with hik­ers and back­pack­ers, this easy-to-fol­low trail con­nects the state’s most intense sock­eye salmon sports fish­ery with stun­ning moun­tain back­coun­try. It offers many of the Kenai Peninsula’s high­lights in one trip. The 21-mile route access­es Russ­ian Riv­er Falls, Low­er and Upper Russ­ian Lakes, Coop­er Lake, 3 fed­er­al­ly man­aged recre­ation­al cab­ins, and numer­ous campsites

You can hike right up to Seward’s Exit Glac­i­er and feel the dense blue ice while lis­ten­ing to it crack­le. Walk the low­er trail to get a good pho­to in front of the glac­i­er face. Or, choose the more chal­leng­ing 7‑mile round-trip Hard­ing Ice­field Trail. There is a short ranger-led walk dai­ly at 11am and 3pm, from Memo­r­i­al Day through Labor Day. 

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 23 miles

The wild­flow­ers are abun­dant and ver­dant under­growth can be check high some­times. Most of the trail lies below tree­line, so there are estab­lished camp clear­ings along the way that are nes­tled into the trees. One of the best camp­sites is 10 miles in from the north­ern trail­head, set among trees on a spruce-cov­ered knoll look­ing over the trail and Bench Lake.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 4 miles

Many peo­ple know of the gru­el­ing Mount Marathon race­course in Seward, some 130 miles south of Anchor­age. How­ev­er, most peo­ple don’t know that there’s also a hik­ing path to the top at Race Point — and it’s far less demand­ing. This 2.25-mile route, which entails hik­ing three dif­fer­ent trails, takes you up the moun­tain and lets you to explore a glacial val­ley along the way.

Distance: 4 miles

More a gat­ed road than a trail, this hike large­ly remains a local secret among the res­i­dents of Coop­er Land­ing, the fish­ing mec­ca locat­ed some 105 miles south of Anchor­age on Ster­ling High­way. Many in this town con­sid­er it their per­son­al get­away, which makes it quite a pop­u­lar secret. A fore­man for Chugach Elec­tric (the com­pa­ny that man­ages the dam on Coop­er Lake) said he often expe­ri­enced con­ges­tion while dri­ving to the dam, due to the heavy  ...more

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 6 miles

This is one of Home­r’s top hikes. It starts on top of Bay­crest Hill, cross­es Dia­mond Ridge Road, then fol­lows Cross­man Ridge to the Bridge Creek Reser­voir. Through­out, it rolls through forests, mead­ows and over streams. The area is excel­lent for bird­ing and catch­ing a glimpse at the occa­sion­al moose.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 38 miles

This 38 mile long USFS trail starts in Hope and climbs Res­ur­rec­tion Pass (elev. 2,600) towards the south before descend­ing to the oppo­site trail­head near Coop­er Land­ing. There are 8 pub­lic use cab­ins along the trail, mak­ing this an advanced but com­fort­able day cab­in-to-cab­in hike. There are also 19 camp­sites avail­able for tent camping.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 2 miles

One of the top trails on the Homer side of Kachemak Bay, Dia­mond Creek is a 2‑mile trail that takes you through for­est, alders, and tall grass mead­ows before descend­ing to the beach, where you’ll find small Alaskan sealife.

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 3 miles

This trail, hands down, is one of the most pop­u­lar hikes in the Kachemak Bay State Park. It is one of the eas­i­est hikes in the park as the trail is well main­tained, and you can’t beat the view of the glac­i­er at the lake. For the first 1.5 miles, the trail mean­ders through mixed cot­ton­wood and Sit­ka spruce. These cot­ton­woods are some of the largest in the park so take time to appre­ci­ate their enor­mous size. After 1.5 miles, the trail proceeds  ...more

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 8 miles

This mean­der­ing, sin­gle-track path leads to some of the Kenai Mountain’s most remote and frag­ile high coun­try. On a route once trekked by gold rush prospec­tors, this trail ascends from spruce for­est through the jun­gled zone of alders into a realm of sweep­ing tun­dra, with incred­i­ble views and pro­duc­tive berry pick­ing. Plus, the top of the nine-mile jour­ney ends in Res­ur­rec­tion Pass, about mid­way through the 39-mile Res­ur­rec­tion Pass Trail.

No oth­er min­ing trail on the Kenai Penin­su­la climbs as high or takes in more exten­sive views as the 6‑mile-long Crown Mine Trail. Begin­ning some 2 hours south of Anchor­age on the appro­pri­ate­ly named Mine Road just south of Trail Lake, this trail climbs to 3,900 feet above sea lev­el to a unique spot — a glacial cirque lit­tered with min­ing paraphernalia.

Seward Water­front Park extends from the small boat har­bor to the SeaL­ife Cen­ter and con­tains paid tent and RV camp­ing, play­grounds, a skate park, pic­nic­ing areas, beach access, and a trail lined with his­tor­i­cal landmarks.

Difficulty: Difficult

This trail is also called the Prim­rose trail at the north end. It begins in a beau­ti­ful rain­for­est and even­tu­al­ly takes you up to a mul­ti­ple of beau­ti­ful lakes in high meadows.

Difficulty: Moderate Elevation Gain: 1056 feet

Begin­ning 103 miles south of Anchor­age on the Seward High­way, the 3.5‑mile-long Ptarmi­gan Lake Trail makes for a fine fam­i­ly out­ing. The lake itself is a long and nar­row body of water squeezed between ridges and moun­tains that tow­er as high as 6,000 feet. It even offers a small beach upon which to relax and enjoy the view while cool­ing your feet.

This is a day use site that offers 13 pic­nic sites with tables, a fish view­ing plat­form, water, toi­lets, an infor­ma­tion board, and fire grates.

Difficulty: Moderate

The trail fol­lows the south end of Coop­er Lake and ends at Upper Russ­ian Lakes Cab­in, 13 miles from the win­ter trail­head. There is lit­tle ele­va­tion gain or loss on this forest­ed trail.

Palmer Creek and the road that fol­lows it were named after George Palmer, who in 1894 first dis­cov­ered gold on its banks. The creek was the site of ear­ly plac­er min­ing and lat­er lode min­ing. Evi­dence of the his­toric Lucky Strike and Hir­shey mines, as well as the Swet­mann camp, can be found along trails that lead to Palmer Lakes. Sev­er­al hik­ing trails are acces­si­ble from the Palmer Creek Road. 

Difficulty: Easy Distance: 1 mile

These pop­u­lar trails lead to two beau­ti­ful, pris­tine lakes. Even bet­ter, they’re both easy hikes, which makes them per­fect for peo­ple of all ages. Bring a fish­ing pole and angle for stocked trout in Merid­i­an Lake or grayling in Grayling Lake.

Although this can be a busy spot, it is a lot less con­gest­ed than the Homer Spit. Things to do here include: tak­ing small day hikes, pad­dling in the lagoon, camp­ing, stay­ing at one of the three near­by pub­lic use cab­ins, and the most pop­u­lar, fish­ing for Kings dur­ing the month of June.

Difficulty: Easy

The trail is half a mile long and takes you through a mature birch for­est that is car­pet­ed with dev­il’s club and water­mel­on berry plants. It’s an easy walk­ing, ide­al for small chil­dren, and ends at a small camp­ing area on a slight bluff that over­looks Bish­op’s Beach and Bish­op Creek.

The Raven’s Way Loop is accessed from the Ster­ling High­way. You will see the Trail­head and large park­ing lot. The trail mean­ders through open spruce and muskeg ter­rain and there it is a great chance to see lots of eagles and ravens.

Difficulty: Difficult Distance: 16 miles

If you want a taste of dim spruce for­est along a wild riv­er bot­tom, try the first few miles of this most­ly lev­el route into the Res­ur­rec­tion Riv­er Val­ley. From the trail­head Mile 7 of Exit Glac­i­er Road, the trail runs 4.5 miles to Mar­tin Creek and is suit­able for moun­tain bik­ing or ski­ing after snow­fall. It fea­tures two prim­i­tive camp­sites and occa­sion­al access or views of to the river.

Known to locals as the Divide Ski Area, this trail was built by ded­i­cat­ed com­mu­ni­ty vol­un­teers from the Seward Nordic Ski Club.

Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Moderate Distance: 11 miles

This easy trail winds along the banks of three lakes. There is a camp­ing area on the side of the trail. The trail climbs a sad­dle and drops down into the val­ley. It can be dan­ger­ous to cross the rivers, as they are glac­i­er-fed and you can­not see the bot­tom. The rivers are low­er dur­ing the begin­ning of the year, but they are also colder.

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