What more motivation do you need than the prospect of wild salmon leaping a waterfall right in front of your face?

The Russian River is teaming with thousands of green-headed, red-bodied sockeye salmon during the two major summer runs between mid-June and late July. Hike out and observe the massive runs power their way upstream through the powerful current and onto their ancestral spawning grounds.

How to get there...

The Russian Lakes Trail begins off the access road to the Russian River Campground in Cooper Landing, at milepost 52 of the Sterling Highway. The trail to the falls is two miles of evenly laid gravel, generously wide, and includes only gentle elevation changes. It’s a modest hike that resembles more of a leisurely stroll- perfect for families and hikers of any activity level. The trailhead begins from a forested entry and eventually gives way to a clearing for sun to stream through. Get off-the-beaten path, hike two miles to the falls and enjoy the immediate reward of spectacular salmon viewing and potential bear sightings.

Where the fish are, bears will follow

Although the salmon run Nature’s show here at the falls, hikers should be alert to bear activity in the area. Black and brown bears both live here and sometimes appear on the river to scoop salmon from the water. The viewing platform provides a small, intimate opportunity to view the salmon, and if a hiker does spot a neighboring bear, make sure to remain calm and maintain neutral ground. Be sure to educate yourself on proper bear safety before taking to the trails. Hikers are reminded repeatedly to be on the lookout for bears because it is important not to surprise bears. Hike in a group. The company and conversation of another hiking buddy along the way can provide notice to nearby bears to keep their distance.

Need more info?

For more information on the area, salmon run schedule, and bear activity, contact the Seward Ranger District (907-224-3374).

Getting There

Latitude: 60.45455
Longitude: -149.987
Driving Directions

Russian River Falls