It’s little known, yet growing in popularity with every year that passes. The locals definitely know about it but many of the newcomers still haven’t discovered it. This is a place on
The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground that is filled with breathtaking beauty, epic fishing, roomy camping spots, adventurous hiking trails and tons of hidden spots that allow you to get away from the crowds – even in the heart of the busy summer season. Ladies and gentleman, leisure travelers and adventure hounds – gather ’round to read all about what makes Skilak Lake one of the very best summer destination areas in all of the last frontier.
Located in the heart of The Kenai, Alaska's Playground, Skilak Lake is a place that is filled with magic and memories. As part of the Kenai River system with glacial runoff included, you can expect pristine beauty along with epic fishing and outdoor adventures. The maximum depth of the lake is 528 feet. It is 15 miles long and 4 miles wide in many places. It's large and in charge. It's a place that has become increasingly popular over the years yet it is still one of our best kept secrets. Best of all? Locals can enjoy the fruits of this lovely piece of natural labor all year long.
From the second you turn onto the 18-mile-long gravel road leading you through the stunning Skilak Lake Recreation Area, you will be delighted with breathtaking beauty. Mountains in the distance with cool glacial air blowing through your hair as you roll town the windows and soak in the sunshine. If it feels like you're in a dream, just pinch yourself real quick and get your eyes back on the road.
But be sure to look at your surroundings as you're driving along and checking out all of the cool areas to stop at. Wildlife such as bears, wolves, caribou and moose are known for popping up out of nowhere and occasionally greeting you on the side of the road.
If you're extra lucky, you might just spot a couple moose crossing the river once you leave Skilak Lake and head down the upper Kenai River. Talk about one of the most magical sights that you will ever behold!
The first turnoff on the left-hand side is Jim's Landing. This beautiful place is a popular pull-out area for those floating the Kenai River from Kenai Lake or the Russian River Confluence.
One of the most magical things about this area is the pullouts on the side of the gravel road that offer breathtaking scenic overlooks. Stop for an epic photo-op of Upper Ohmer Lake Overlook and enjoy views of mountains, glaciers and wildlife in the distance. Your heart might explode, so be sure that you have on plenty of layers. 😉
And if you want to do more than just drive the loop and check out the scenery, you're in luck. One of the most amazing things about the Skilak Lake Recreation Area is the incredible access to hiking trails. This photo in particular is the Skilak Overlook Trail up Bear Mountain. Just 1.5 miles round-trip and you will have some of the most breathtaking views of your life. Traveling through thick brush in bear country isn't everyone cup of tea, we understand that. But be rest assured that you can find tons of different types of trails in this area, from beginning to intermediate and even expert level hikes that require maximum endurance. Others also enjoy mountain biking on many of the trails.
Boating out to a remote state cabin for a hunting trip is an activity that locals regularly partake in. There are a lot of options in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge in terms or hunting and back-country access which is a true treat for locals and visitors alike looking to source wild game.
Fishing on Skilak Lake (which feeds into the Kenai River) is on everybody's hot bucket list. Catch trophy rainbow trout, salmon and so much more. Year-round access to this incredible fishery makes locals feel like it's Christmas 365 days a year!
Or if you just like to get on the water to paddle around and take in the sights, kayaking is a very popular activity here. Head out to upper Skilak Lake and enjoy some of the most peaceful and remote areas in all of The Kenai, Alaska's Playground. People can also be found tubing and jet skiing on some of the smaller lakes in the Skilak Lake Recreation Area (such as hidden lake).
Bring the kiddos to the lake on a hot day and let them splash around in the water. It's glacial fed so it will undoubtedly be chilly, but on a hot day it feels AMAZING. Plus you are guaranteed to see lots of happy laughs from the little ones as they wear themselves out splishing and splashing.
Now that you've fallen in love with all of the incredible activities here, let's talk about staying a while. Campgrounds are ever-plentiful on the Skilak Lake loop. Bring your tent or RV and choose from areas like Hidden Lake Campground, Engineer Lake Campground, Upper and Lower Skilak Lake Campground or Petersen Lake Campground. Enjoy campfires and be sure to bring your four-legged best friend along with you to enjoy in all the fun.
When all is said and done, you'd think that life just doesn't get any better. Until the sun sets and you're spoiled by one of the most explosive doses of eye-candy that you've ever had the opportunity to lay your eyes on. Life is but a dream until you've had the reality of enjoying Skilak Lake!