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.

The only reason I gave this hike one star was because it had had recent grizzly bear activity on it. In hindsight I should not have hiked it. There was bear "sign" right on the trail, especially down by the river, and it was steamy fresh--very unnerving. There was also mangled fish carcasses at the beginning of the trail, far before you reach the river, not to mention ten or so carcasses along the river. And the terrible smell from the bears was everywhere! The whole experience detracted from the hike and I didn't take any pictures or stop to enjoy the view. If bears weren't frequenting the trail, it would have been a great hike. I only did the loop from the second trailhead parking lot. It brings you gently downhill through thin trees and grassy undergrowth. It's pretty enclosed most of the way down until you reach the river. The mountain views from the river are very pretty, as is the rushing river itself. I wasn't able to complete the loop though because the trail was completely underwater for a large section and I didn't have wading gear. This underwater section was also choked with tall grasses, making it hard to follow even if I had decided to wade through. Another time of year may have been better to do this trail, when the river wasn't so full. Overall, easy hike, pretty views by the river, good shade and trees headed down. I was hiking alone, but I recommend going with a group of people who like to talk loudly! I talked loudly the whole hike, which is likely why I didn't see any bears, but it really took the joy out of hiking. Don't forget the bear spray!

hiking
2 months ago

Amazing trail! STEEP. The trail head will say 2 mile round trip. I'm not so sure that's accurate. Ever step is worth the views at the top though. Brin bug spray or nets if you have them. Also some good binoculars would be great.

trail running
2 months ago

August 13, 2017. We hitchhiked from the Fuller Lakes trailhead to the Skyline trail. We fast hiked the route over to the peak above Fuller Lakes. The route is obvious and easy ridge hiking when the viability is good. Our error came in seeing the Fuller lakes directly below when we reached to last peak and thinking the best way was straight down the mossy tundra. Turns out there is a cliff band above the lakes and we had to head back up and sidehill a long way to the north before finding a decent decent. By decent, I mean alder bashing. We ended coming out on the north end of the upper lake and hiking out. Took us just over 6 hours including all our detours. Before going, make sure you know the best route off the mountain above Fuller Lakes. I am not sure there is an actual trail, but there must be a better way than we found.

hiking
2 months ago

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2 months ago

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2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

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3 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

This is an exquisitely taxing route if done in full.
Be in phenomenal shape with great knees, or don't go past the 3-1/2mile mark of the last peak of the main ridge.
The trail is infuriatingly hard to follow down from there to continue.
That's the first issue.
Then, once the final peak is reached, as you're going down the backside of the mountain, at about the 6-1/2 mile mark, there is a little anchor loop in the ground, that says "trail to Fuller Lake, start down now."
There is no trail from there, really. There is some flagging on a few shrubs that is hard to see, especially between them, and you have to go down a nearly 45 degree slope until you meet up with an also infuriatingly hard trail head, occasionally marked with more flagging in hard to see places.
Once on that trail it's rather overgrown, but usually followable. I had the benefit of coming behind a group, who were nice enough to beat the path a bit for me.
It's a long trek to the last lake of Fuller, but once there its easy walking.

Would i do this trail again in full?
Probably not.
Was it worth doing this once?
Yeah, but really only for bragging rights.

I advise only going so far as to the last peak of the main ridge and then going back. Thats still a 7 or so mile trek, and more worthwhile.
But hey, not everyone else has a body that wants to give out on them.
Don't be silly, bring poles.

I would definitely climb the first peaks again, those were great.

Great hike and is pretty hard!

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful views even on a cloudy day. connects to a ridge to walk along. loved this hike. hiking poles are very useful, especially going down

hiking
3 months ago

The three star review says it all. Decent trail, moderate elevation gain, well trafficked and great to get someone outside who isn't in the best of shape. I'd like to bike this trail to the first lake, the downhill would be a lot of fun.

hiking
3 months ago

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3 months ago

hiking
4 months ago

Good moderate hike.
Can make it to the first lake in about an hour at a leisurely pace, less if you're moving quickly.
Great camping spots all around the first lake, a few good ones on the last lake.
Fun hike to spend an afternoon on.

on Kenai River Trail

4 months ago

Super Rando, montée très raide des le départ!! Une vue impressionnante sur les sommets, lacs et même avec un peu de chance le denali!!!

hiking
4 months ago

Did the west trail until the end. Beautiful overlooks of the river, moderately easily with a few steep rocky areas.

Did this trail last summer and it was absolutely amazing! The views were to die for! I was so sore the next day, but worth the work.