And yet another incident where I only did a hike because of this website and I found a real gem that I would have missed. I figured since this trail was only 1 1/2 miles in a very used recreation area, I thought it would be boring and ugly. The 1st part certainly was pretty regular and somewhat unattractive due to a controlled burn back in the 90’s where blackened narrow tree trunks spread out in front of you.
But pretty soon you get to the loop and at the end is Hidden Creek nestled in a grassy marsh with the Kenai Mountains in the background. Further on is Skilak Lake, one of the more beautiful and larger lakes in the Kenai. What's really nice, as far as the eye can see (and this is a huge lake!), there is no development, no cabins, nothing man-made.
You could explore the shoreline (which is covered with fish skeletons and tons of driftwood) for hours and next time I come back I plan on heading to the rocky outcrop west of the trail for what I'm sure would be some nice private camping. While it's a short hike to the beach, it would actually make a good backpacking trip if you base camped near the trail and then day hiked all over the beach. There are lots of great camping areas in the trees as well as a few by the creek. This would be a perfect trail to introduce very young children to backpacking as it would be an easy hike but there would be lots to entertain them when you made camp.
After the hike, I met up with one of the park rangers who let me know the creek is good for fishing; not so good in the lake. The place can get crowded during fishing season. However, the shoreline is long enough that you should be able to find some privacy if fishing in the creek isn’t a big concern and you can head away from it.
If I was road tripping in the Kenai, I would definitely put this on my list.
The sign at the trailhead says that the lake is very windy most of the time. When I was there, it certainly was and the water was very choppy. Pack a windbreaker, and if camping, a strong tent and a windshield for your stove.
If you're doing a day hike and intend on doing the entire loop, take the Skilak Lake side coming in for nicer views; return by hidden creek.
Remember how you got to the lake shore from the trail loop as it may be hard to find it after exploring the shore.
If you plan on fishing, make sure you are educated on current regulations. Alaska takes wildlife management very seriously.
The entire Skilak Lake area is a great place to hang out, especially for families with small children (under 7). There are several great state campgrounds, easy trails but with great views, fishing, lots of wildlife, and some nice scenic overlooks. Skilak Lake is beautiful!