This hike was rated 3 stars.
Somewhat Easy; the trail is rolling hills with some slight elevation gain
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
67.5; a few miles north of Wasilla on the Parks Highway
All year


The trail starts at South Rolly Lake Campground Parking Lot. With your back to South Rolly Lake there is a dirt road with a gate. The trail starts just before the gate and to your left. This trail is dry and mostly all forested with a few minor swamps just off the trail.

At the end of the trail at Red Shirt Lake there are primitive campsites. Call ahead to reserve boats at the lake from Tippecanoe Rentals.

Also 4 cabins are available to rent, but in the summer are only accessible by boat. For more info:

Important Information

Bring water for the hiking or camping or plan to purify the lake water. This trail is a bit rough for a stroller and rather long for young children unless you plan to stay the night and only if they can handle a 3 mile walk to the lake.

Bug dope is a must.


The campground at South Rolly Lake is really nice and would be a great place to camp and do a day hike to Red Shirt Lake if you are not up to lugging a lot of gear.
Stop at Miller’s on the Parks Hwy in Houston for an ice cream cone and ask for the free ice cream with a biscuit on top for Fido.

Parking fee is $5 or use your State Parks sticker.

Note: there are numerous entrances into Nancy Lake and it can get quite confusing. Look for the mile markers (you’re looking for 67 and then 1/2 mile from there). You want to take the Nancy Lake Park Road, which is just past a log cabin building operation. Do not take the road where the Polaris snow machine shop is.


Topo Map

View Map(s) Here

Comments on hiking Red Shirt Lake

  1. Chris — July 5, 2018

    A friend and I did this with his 5 yr old daughter yesterday (out and back). It’s quite a hike for a 5 year old. She’s used to being out, camping, hiking, etc… and she got a little impatient “ready to be done walking.” If you’re kiddos aren’t used to being out and hiking, then 5 is probably a bit too young for this hike. That said, there’s no reason (beyond boredom) that a even a young child can’t finish this hike.

    The trail is good, wide, and mostly even, no loose rocks. But there are some areas with roots and steep-ish spots, think like going down a few stairs that are not evenly spaced. An “off-roading” stroller would make it, but it’ll be some work for the grown up. We did it in Chacos, so no special hiking footwear needed on a dry day.

    It was a sunny hot day, bugs were ferocious, but nothing DEET didn’t solve. No head nets too keep them out of our noses/mouths or anything like that bad.

    Do take your preferred method of bear deterrent, we didn’t see any, but on the way back we’re pretty sure we winded a cache, and stepped up the pace a bit to get off that section of trail.

  2. Lauren Yoder — July 24, 2016

    Easy 3-mile hike with little up and down and beautiful Red Shirt Lake at the end. If a canoe is desired, reserve at South Rolly Campground near trailhead. Can occasionally see grouse. And of course there are bears in the area, so keep talking or singing to avoid surprise encounters. Great trail for wildflowers, mushrooms and berries.

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