This gets a high rating for the destination and not necessarily the actual hike. But Boy! What a Destination! An incredibly shaped lake surrounded by chasms and small tarns; two glaciers to the east and one to the west and part of the creek rushing along a deep stone chasm. This has to be one of the best places to camp in Alaska. This place rates high on my list for this simple reason.
This can be an incredible bike ride as well considering that a third of the trail is along the ridge of a mountain.
Even though a lot of people go here, there are so many hills and crevices that finding solitude is no problem. If you have any geology background, see if you can figure out the hodgepodge of previous glaciers; where they started and where they wound up.
Plan on seeing lots of marmots. If your dog is like mine, they'll be one happy canine trying to chase after them as they scurry down their holes at the last minute.
You can either hike in and back or do the entire traverse if you have a car at both trailheads. If you can only do one side, I'd pick the Lost Lake Trail side. The start of both sides is mainly canopy under spruce. Once you're on the ridge that's when the views start. The Lost Lake Trail gets you to the ridge sooner. But, really, both sides are pretty much equal. If you just do the Primrose side, make sure you check the bridge out on the other side of the lake in order to view the creek flowing through the chasm.
My advice; get there early to have your pick of sites, then plan on a long day hike around the lake. Head into the back of the lake (the west end) and hike up to the small glacier. Someday, I plan on doing a 3-4 day and going as far back there as I can. Supposedly you can head right to Coopers Landing.
*The following was added August 8, 2005: *
Just got back from a beautiful weekend up here. This time I camped on the north side where there were a couple of small beaches with a lot of privacy. I purposely camped here, as I wanted to check out the backcountry west of the lake (see below - it was incredible!). The weather was perfect (they were calling for showers) and a nice steady breeze off the lake kept the bugs away.
While I’m never real excited about the canopy part of the trail getting to the ridge, it was much more enjoyable this time, as the blueberries and salmonberries were in full ripeness and were there for the picking for long stretches of the trail. I literally munched on them as I hiked along.
I really had a detailed look of my surroundings this trip and I never realized just how many glaciers are visible from this area. While none are very large, my guess would be that walking around, you could possible see more than 15!
The following was added July 22, 2006:
Coming up the Primrose side, about 3 miles in, you can hear the sound of a waterfall off in the distance. There is a small trail off to the side but since I usually have a pack on, I've never wanted to go check it out, not knowing how far off it is. I was camping at Primrose and needed to walk the dog, so I finally checked it out. It's a very short trail and the falls are magnificent! If you're hiking this side, I urge you to take the extra 10-15 minutes to go take a look. I can't tell you exactly where the trail is but after you pass the intersection of the winter route, start to listen for the falls and as it gets louder, look to your right to find the spur trail.
There is a hut half way up the Lost Lake Trail side (known as the Dale Clemens Cabin) but it's really more of a winter destination. It supposedly has a great view of Resurrection Bay. For more information, go to Recreation.gov.
You can use this trail in the winter but it's more of a snowmobiler's place during the snow season.
Be prepared for black flies. You definitely want to bring the DEET.
Be aware of optical illusions. A lot of destinations look like they’re just over the ridge but when you get to it, you realize there are a few lower ones in between. Think of a blanket with lots of folds.
The backcountry area around Lost Lake is really beautiful, and you could easily spend several days just hiking around that area. For more information, check out the Lost Lake Backcountry hike page.
The Primrose State Campground is really nice. I like to sleep in the back of my truck with it backed up to the shore of Kenai Lake the night before I start hiking.
This hike can be done from either of 2 trailheads: on Lost Lake Trail Road about 5 miles from Seward, or Primrose Campground, about 17 miles from Seward.