Skyline TrailKenai National Wildlife Refuge
This trail is located on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. (I’m surprised this hike wasn’t already listed, since it’s fairly popular)
There is a sign at the beginning of the trail that briefly describes what may be encountered. Bears are a very real possibility, especially in the fall. The sign also describes the hike as very strenuous, which I can agree with.
From the Sterling Hwy, the trail rises rapidly. The elevation rises 1600 feet from beginning to end. I’m not sure what to believe on actual trail length, since the sign says 1 mile and hikers have clocked 2+ miles. Either way, it’s a steep trail at times.
I’ve hiked to the trail 4 times, and have been to the top every time. Apparently many people like to stop at “The Saddle”, which is a few hundred feet in elevation below the Summit. I encourage everyone to press onwards past this point. The view is definitely worth it, AND you get to sign your name in a book that’s kept in a box at the top. Totally worth it. On a clear day, visibility is endless. Some say that even Anchorage is visible from there.
The fastest I’ve made it up so far is about 1hr, 10min. I will be trying to break one hour, and then break 1 and a half hours round trip time.
As mentioned, bears are a very real threat. I have only gone once without a gun, and that happened to be the one time I encountered a nice sized brownie. Some sort of protection is recommended.
Try Gwin’s Lodge in nearby Cooper Landing for a meal. They make a great burger!