For almost 100 years, the Kenai Peninsula has attracted hunters of moose, Dall sheep, and other wild game. In 1941 President Roosevelt designated more than 1.7 million acres as the Kenai National Moose Range. In 1980 the Moose Range was expanded to almost two million acres, renamed the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, and well over half of it was designated Wilderness. The area comprises the western slopes of the Kenai Mountains with their ancient glaciers rising to 6,612 feet, nine river systems (many originating from the expansive Harding Ice Field), and the spruce-birch lowland forest that extends to the shores of Cook Inlet. Unlike most of Alaska's wildlands, Kenai lies near Anchorage and draws scores of human visitors to its scenic grandeur (only 17 wildlife refuges in the entire United States receive more visitors). More than 200 miles of established trails give access to much of the backcountry. Hundreds of splendid small lakes are accessible through a system of canoe trails, including the popular Swanson River Canoe Trail. Fishing brings many people to the area, including fly-ins to more remote lakes. Motorized boats are allowed on the larger lakes but not on the canoe trails. Kenai produces an abundant crop of wild berries. Brown bears are relatively scarce here except in the less-visited places. Many species of mammals and birds call Kenai home. The howling of wolves often breaks the night stillness. Be prepared for insects.
Did half the trail to the top and back. Starting across the road from the parking lot the trail is steep but well marked. You will gain altitude quickly, level out for a short period above the tree line then another steep ascent to the top. Estimating nearly 2700 vertical feet. Plan about 4 hrs for average ability, bring plenty of water and anticipate 20 degree change in temp. Great hike and well the effort to the top.
Took about 3.5-4 hours hike time to complete entire trail, with a few small breaks to take photos and what not. View of mountains was absolutely beautiful, and a good way to get back into the hiking season with a moderate trail. Will do again before the end of summer!
Got to trail head via boat ride from Homer. Beautiful, serene, long hike in to a solitary cabin and peaceful lake. Make sure to reserve cabin in advance. There are bears on the trail so be alert! Be sure to bring a water filter-filtered water out of a glacial stream-so pure and fleshing! Be prepared for Mosquitos-they were everywhere!!!!!!
Completed the Skyline Ridge Traverse yesterday, August 24, 2014, with a friend. We are young women of normal health who have regular moderate activity. We embraced the mystery of the Mystery Hills and left with a way-too-scaled-out topographic chart, a compass, a GPS which died halfway and sneakers instead of real hiking footwear. It was a rainy morning, so we took our time and reached the Fuller Lakes Trailhead at 10:30am. One black bear spotted on the WSW hillside. Past Upper Fuller Lake, we found that someone had placed some orange and then pink trail blazes. There is one bright pink rock that is a good visual for someone coming down from the ridge trying to find the trail to Fuller Lakes. We cut up the mountainside and found it to be mossy and intriguing and we took our time reaching the ridge. The trail blazes stopped appearing. The wind was steady and pushy; we trudged forth with very wet sneakered feet and prepared to mount the first peak. The wind was out of the SW and sent sharp raindrops into our faces. At this time, the GPS showed we had averaged a pace of about 2.2 mph. We only got slower from there. Even in the cloudy rain, the views we were granted were great and worth the wet feet. The moss and lichen was soft footing and the mystery hills unfolded around us as the weather moved in an out. Since we didn't, in fact, know how long this hike was to be, we had a number of false ideas about when we might reach the Skyline Trail to descend. After a grand total of 3 major climbs (which does not include the lesser climbs) we found some more pink trail blazes and then 2 young men signing in the "I was here" book in the orange ammo box at the top of the Skyline hike. This was at 7:00pm. We also signed the book and had a slippery trip down to the lot which we reached at 8:30pm. We never sped up and probably moved at 1.9 mph. We took many snack breaks and even took time to prepare hot coffee on a rainy ridge. The GPS died probably at somewhere near to halfway and told us we had gone almost 7.8 miles in over 5 hours. As a best guess, I'd say we walked 13 miles. I will do this hike again with fully charged GPS batteries and, even though the mystery of the hike is refreshing, I'll report back a real mileage when I can.
The information is misleading because it is not 18 miles one way, but 9 miles, and there is no way you are going to do the whole traverse in 4 hours. This trail connects the Skyline Trail (which takes about 4 hours up and down) and the Fuller Lakes Trail (which is 3 miles and probably 4 hours round trip). The other five miles are on the traverse, which is a ridge walk from one trail to the other. Most people go from Fuller Lakes to Skyline because the trail down to Fuller Lakes is difficult (read: almost impossible) to find from the ridge. Fuller Lakes and Skyline are well marked trails; the traverse is NOT a well marked trail, but fades in and out and you will want to vary your route depending on the weather. The wind gusts get extreme on the traverse. We did this trip with our boys (ages 11 and 13) and took 3 days to do it (starting late the first day). It is a challenging backpacking experience and involves lots of steep ups and steep downs. We did it in October, which was probably a mistake, but whenever you do it, be prepared for high winds and rain. And by high winds, I mean "lay your tent down" winds. An accurate map and compass are highly recommended if going from Skyline to Fuller Lakes.
Awesome trail but a bit sketchy in early May. Lots of snow on the trail and post-holing was common place. The lake was mostly iced over and fishing was not fruitful. The cabin was super clean and there was a decent amount of wood to burn. Later in the season will require lots of bug dope. Highly recommend this trail!
The trail is well used and actively cleared and continually improved by a summer trail crew. There are lots of elevations changes, muddy spots, roots, with narrow and steep points. Most of the big streams are bridged. If you are packing to one of the cabins or camping spots like Moose Valley, it is strenuous. Take your time! It is surrounded by mountains and beautiful hills. Wildlife are prevalent, such as black bear, moose, bald eagle, mountain goats, and loons and ducks. China Poot Lake has fishing. It is a large deep lake. The sea bays are picturesque. Buggy in the summer. $75 for a round trip taxi. The Salty Dog, a 50 year old log tavern on the Homer spit is a must beer and a shot stop.
This is a tough hike even for someone in shape...constant climb to the top and on top of that you need to bring all different kinds of layers.... On my hike I measured a 30 degree drop from just below the treeline to the first peak...also the wind at the top is numbing and there aren't many places to hide from it...best advice is to keep moving to stay warm...all this aside...climbing this by myself was a highly rewarding experience
This was a very challenging hike for us, it felt like we did Skyline four times during the day. The "trail" is straight up one mountain and then straight down. It appears to be the mountain sheep you are following. The view from the top is awesome. We were there for the fall colors, and tons of blueberries, though I probably won't make it my annual berry picking trip! Start early if not hiking during the long daylight season. We got to Fuller Lake as the sun was setting (long story,longer shortcut) and hiked out in the dark.(not recommended)