Kenai River Trails

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
This hike was rated 2 stars.
Easy; no elevation gain whatsoever
Connects With
Nearby off of Skilak Lake Road:
Burney’s Trail
Bear Mountain
Hidden Creek Trail
Seven Lakes Trail
Skilak Lookout
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
120; near Kenai off of Skilak Lake Road
May to October


This Hike was totally rewritten on September 16, 2006

The first time I ever did this hike was back in 1999 when I was visiting and still deciding whether I wanted to move here. I started working on this website 3 years later and didn’t remember much, with the exception of how beautiful the river was with it’s deep blue color.

Since I was camping last weekend nearby, I thought I would redo the hike and give this page a good update.

As I mentioned above, the river is really gorgeous but the trails around this area of the river are really so-so. They are very overgrown and there are huge portions of the trail where you have no views. However, when there are views, it can be really spectacular especially the section of the loop where you are on a high bluff overlooking the Kenai Mountains and the river bending directions.

If I was in the area camping or such, I might take a quick trip to see the river, but I wouldn’t put this high on my list for hikes. It would be much better to do Skilak Lookout Trail. The east trail entrance is what most of the fisherman use.

Don’t bother with the primitive trail off the west end that heads toward Hidden Creek. There are very few views worth the slogging through the overgrowth.

Important Information

If you plan on fishing, make sure you’re educated about the rules and regulations for the area.

BEARS! Be very careful on this trail, especially during salmon season and autumn, as there are a lot of them about. As I said above, many parts of the trail are overgrown and visibility ahead is severely restricted. I had a very close encounter with a grizzly that I’m lucky didn’t turn ugly.

Keep yourself oriented. There are a lot of game trails and it’s easy to get confused. If in doubt, head away from the river and you’ll hit the road eventually.

In the overgrown sections, be careful of the roots sticking out that may cause you to trip.


This beautiful color of the river (and Kenai and Skilak Lakes) is the result of very fine minerals ground down to silt by glacial grinding and the sun reflecting off these minerals.

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!

Topo Map

Kenai River Trails topo map

Comments on hiking Kenai River Trails

  1. Stephanie W. — May 1, 2017

    This was one of the first hikes I found upon moving here. The views are absolutely breathtaking and it is an easy hike for kids. We have mentioned this trail to many of our friends and definitely plan on returning soon. A brown bear was sighted right before we got there, according to a fellow hiker but we missed it. Great view of the river and the salmon were jumping in such great numbers I felt like I could have reached out and grabbed them. 5 Stars from us

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