Before I begin my description, I should let you know that my judgment on this hike may be clouded due to the fact that my damn (at least on this day) dog rubbed into a dead fish in the parking lot and stunk to high heaven. I was really pissed at her and we did the hike real quick so I could get to Soldotna and buy some vinegar to wash it out.
This is a nice uphill hike to 3 sub-alpine lakes. Most of the trail is in spruce and aspen forest with one quick skirt of Mystery creek and one quick open view of Skilak Lake.
You’ll hit the 1st lake after about 2 miles. Notice the beaver dam as soon as you reach the shore. As you wind around the lake, you’ll see Round Mountain on the other side. A little ways up is the second lake, which is really more of a pond. Beyond that is the upper lake surrounded by marsh and open views.
There are a few areas scattered here and there to set up a camp but I believe you would not get a lot of privacy.
Verdict: if you’re in the area to fish or camp, it’s a nice summer evening hike, especially if you have small children, but not worth the effort to drive any length of time to get to.
I’m noticing on some of the topos that the trail is marked differently than the actual walk. However, the trail is clearly marked and you shouldn’t have a problem.
If you plan on fishing, make sure you are educated about licenses and regulations.
Just a little tidbit here on the extremes in weather up here. I did this hike on Friday, September 24. It was beautifully sunny and in the 50’s. I planned on spending the whole weekend in hopes of hiking a bunch of these lake trails off the Sterling Highway for the website. While I was camping overnight, it started to snow and was already a couple of inches when I woke up. Since I didn’t have my snow tires on yet, I had to hightail it out of there.
If you love to fish, the Sterling Highway is a great place to hang out. There are lots of lakes and rivers, especially the beautiful Kenai and Skilak Lakes. There are numerous public campgrounds and lots of small hiking trails.