Red Shirt Lake Trailhead
Red Shirt Lake Trail is nestled close to the western boundary of Nancy Lake State Recreation Area, an overlooked gem along the Parks Highway. Red Shirt Lake provides access to four public use cabins, which are located on the lake and accessible via boat. The lake is also home to many private cabins, so be sure to respect private property if exploring around the lake. For those interested in canoeing at the lake, stop at the canoe rental facility at the South Rolly Campground before traveling to Red Shirt. Here you can purchase a key to access canoes at Red Shirt Lake. Canoe rental must be arranged prior to arriving at Red Shirt Lake, as no staff are on-site at the lake.
The trail itself is moderately difficult as it rolls along glacial hills and moraines. Frequent tree roots are reminders for hikers to mind their footing. Vegetation can be thick in the late summer months, so be sure to make your presence known to bears while traveling along the trail. Watermelon berries, raspberries, prickly wild rose, and devil’s club hug portions of the trail after the halfway mark.
While Red Shirt Lake Trail never climbs above the forest, on a clear day one can catch glimpses of the Chugach Range through small clearings where the vegetation stays at bay. In addition to lake access, the end of the trail also houses a few backcountry campsites and a small outhouse. Guests utilizing the campsites should pack a water filtration system and know that the outhouse is not always stocked. For most current trail conditions, contact the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area office.
Dogs must be leashed. This is a non-motorized, summer trail. Winter access to Red Shirt Lake is possible via East Red Shirt Lake Trail and Chicken Lake Cross Park Trail; however, visitors should note Nancy Lake State Parkway is only plowed to mile 2.2.
Features: Trail running and hiking, canoeing
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Nancy Lake State Recreation Area is approximately 1.5 hours from Anchorage. To access the recreation area, take the George Parks Highway to Willow. At mile 67.3 of the Parks Highway, turn west onto Nancy Lake Parkway. The parkway continues about 6.5 miles to trailhead parking for Red Shirt Lake Trail and access to the South Rolly Campground.