UPDATE: The campground will be temporarily closed beginning in 2020 due to the danger posed by trees infested with spruce-bark beetles. Rotting trees have been toppling. State parks plans to reopen the campground after the hazardous trees have been removed.
Do you want the deep woods experience on a Susitna Valley lake? Camping by this 108-acre lake inside the Nancy Lake State Recreation Area near Willow feels like you’ve reached the end of the road.
To the west stretches unbroken wilderness to the Alaska Range and beyond. And yet, the 97 sites in this friendly, heavily treed campground offer all the regular campground amenities of outhouses, fire rings, picnic tables and water pump.
Paddling and hiking nearby
The lake provides fishing, paddling and spectacular views, with some campsites located right on the shore. The serpentine road system within the campground begs for biking and strolling, while a big clearing lures kids who love to dig and play in the sand. Quick hikes on the park’s trail system or visiting other lakes in the park are easy to do.
There’s lots to do at South Rolly Lake
- Fish and paddle. South Rolly contains pike and stocked rainbow trout. A channel leads into two other small lakes, creating a sort of mini canoe trail. Use boat launch, or rent boats from the Tippicanoe concessionaire, located inside the campground.
- Hike to Red Shirt Lake. A three-mile trail leads from the campground entrance over an ancient moraine route through a climax birch-spruce forest. Another more ambitious trail leads south off the Nancy Lake Parkway a quarter mile east of the picnic overlook.
- Watch wildlife. South Rolly attracts beavers and waterbirds, including loons, grebes and sometimes swans. Moose are around too.
- Just mess around: South Rolly features a sandy play area and a dock for fishing. On summer weekends, the place takes on a playground atmosphere with many romping kids.
- Explore other lakes. Only a few minutes drive east on Nancy Lake Parkway leads to parking for short walks to North Rolly, Reihn and Tanaina lakes.