Kenai Peninsula Canoe Trails
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Canoeing in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
The Swan Lake and Swanson River canoe routes are located in the northern
lowlands of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge was established to
conserve the fish and wildlife and habitats of the Kenai Peninsula in their
natural diversity as well as provide opportunities for fish and wildlife
oriented recreation. The canoe routes are located in an area that is nationally
designated wilderness. The routes are also National Recreational Trails.
A trip on these waterways is a special adventure because of the varied
wildlife. Trumpeter swan, moose, black and brown bear, wolves, bald eagles,
loons, beaver, otter, mink, muskrat, and waterfowl are often observed. Beaver
inhabit the lakes and streams building dams and storing food. Song birds, shore
birds, and waterfowl nest along lake shores, marshlands, and forests. Moose
give birth to their calves during late May and early June. It is not unusual to
see common loons and their young.
This is an excellent outing for family groups. The trails consist mainly of sheltered lake travel with short portages between lakes on well marked trails. Occasionally a stream will link some lakes but paddling may be difficult. It is wise to have one member of the group wear hip boots while the others should wear knee high rubber boots. Take-outs at portage points may be swampy and keeping your feet dry will make the outing more enjoyable.
Fishing is generally very good once you are two or three lakes into the system and away from more heavily fished areas. It is almost effortless to catch a few trout for dinner while you are paddling along each lake's shoreline.
Attach a small dry fly such as a #10 mosquito pattern on the end of your spinning rod and drag it about 30-40 feet behind you as you paddle. By the time to get to your campsite for the evening you may very well have all the fish you will need for supper. Rainbow trout and dolly varden are present in most of the canoe system lakes.
The town of Sterling has several businesses that rent canoes. These can also provide shuttle service to drop you and your canoe at the trailhead and pick you up at a designated time.
Introduction | Swanson River Route | Swan Lake Route | Need To Know Info
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