Skilak Lookout Trail

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
This hike was rated 4 stars.
Difficulty
Somewhat Easy; gradually gaining elevation
Connects With
None
but lots of short and mostly easy hikes off of Skilak Lake Road:

Burney’s Trail
Bear Mountain
Hidden Creek Trail
Kenai River Trails
Seven Lakes Trail
Miles One Way
2.5
Miles from Anchorage
120; off the Sterling Highway on the Kenai Peninsula
Season
May to October

Description

It seems a general rule of thumb that the best views hiking are on the trails that take the most work. This is one trail that breaks the rules. While the elevation does increase, it’s very gradual and there are only a few short steep sections. Anybody in reasonable shape can handle it, so there’s no excuse. You can get this view from an overlook off the road, but it’s so much better from the lookout.

This has to be one of the most scenic views in the Kenai Peninsula, seriously!, and if you’re in the area, it is definitely worth the time. The views start right away too, not just at the end of the hike. However, it is worth going to the very end for an almost 360° view.

This would be a great hike to pack a lunch along with your camera.

Important Information

There are a lot of bears in the area, especially during salmon season. Don’t forget to make noise and be vigilant.

The lookout is very windy. Be sure to bring adequate clothing.

No water sources, pack an adequate supply.

Etc.

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.

Topo Map

Skilak Lookout Trail topo map

Comments on hiking Skilak Lookout Trail

  1. Jason — July 20, 2018

    Went too early on a foggy morning late July. The trail was mostly overgrown with chest high (to an adult) grasses soaked in dew. Kids were completely covered in grass. Muddy, but manageable. We were all soaked by the summit. Because of the fog the view was missing, but even with the view this trail needs serious help. We hiked 5 Kenai area trails in 4 days. This was our least favorite.

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  3. Keith Mantey — August 24, 2016

    A fantastic fairly easy 2 mile trail. 4 miles total and takes 4 to 5 hours. Can be slick and muddy. Bring hiking poles! Great Skilak Lake views along many points. 3 neat trees at the end make a great shelter at the top. A bear had stepped into our tracks by the time we were heading back. We smelled several Bears but didn’t see them. Be alert. Have bear spray. We rent it at Gwin’s Lodge. We started that program since you can’t fly home with it. There was a couple dribbles of streams you could gather some limited water. Keith with Gwin’s Lodge, Cooper Landing resident.

  4. The following was submitted by Sarah S.:

    I attempted this hike last Thursday, a warm, sunny day in May. The trailhead was well-marked and easy enough to find; unfortunately, I couldn’t find the actual trail! I bushwhacked for about an hour, hoping I might pick it up, but finally got tired of that and turned around. So I never got to the lookout, and the atmosphere in the area of the supposed trail wasn’t especially attractive. There had been a fire there and were very few living trees, none over about 10 feet. No birds, making it eerily quiet. Lots of insects, though – large ones that liked to buzz around my head every time I stopped.

    Webmaster’s Note: not sure what happened with Sarah. I did this trail last September (2006) and had no problems that I remember. Perhaps the fire obscured the trail.

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