This hike was rated 4 stars.
Submitted By
Danny Autrey
Somewhat Difficult
Miles One Way
Miles from Anchorage
100; on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing
All year


This trail is located on the Sterling Highway near Cooper Landing. (I’m surprised this hike wasn’t already listed, since it’s fairly popular)

There is a sign at the beginning of the trail that briefly describes what may be encountered. Bears are a very real possibility, especially in the fall. The sign also describes the hike as very strenuous, which I can agree with.

From the Sterling Hwy, the trail rises rapidly. The elevation rises 1600 feet from beginning to end. I’m not sure what to believe on actual trail length, since the sign says 1 mile and hikers have clocked 2+ miles. Either way, it’s a steep trail at times.

I’ve hiked to the trail 4 times, and have been to the top every time. Apparently many people like to stop at “The Saddle”, which is a few hundred feet in elevation below the Summit. I encourage everyone to press onwards past this point. The view is definitely worth it, AND you get to sign your name in a book that’s kept in a box at the top. Totally worth it. On a clear day, visibility is endless. Some say that even Anchorage is visible from there.

The fastest I’ve made it up so far is about 1hr, 10min. I will be trying to break one hour, and then break 1 and a half hours round trip time.

Important Information

As mentioned, bears are a very real threat. I have only gone once without a gun, and that happened to be the one time I encountered a nice sized brownie. Some sort of protection is recommended.


Try Gwin’s Lodge in nearby Cooper Landing for a meal. They make a great burger!

Topo Map

Skyline Trail topo map

Comments on hiking Skyline Trail

  1. Tyler Mahan — December 28, 2016

    I hiked the Skyline trail with my son Jay June 3rd and look forward to going back the next time I’m in Alaska. The temp was in the 50’s at the trail head but dropped to the 30’s and strong winds at the summit. The trail was excellent and very exciting as the terrain changed many times on the way up the mountain. The views were amazing and as we climbed it was challenging as the winds picked up. It was about an hour and a half round trip and worth every minute!

  2. Mark Biloy — April 19, 2016

    I last hiked this trail in 1988. From the saddle we could see Mt. Redoubt and Mt. Augustine across the inlet; especially well when the sun was low (August). The inlet and countless lakes were highlighted on dark ground. Awesome view. The next day from the top we could see Denali and the sky toward Tok was filled with smoke due to the fires that year. I’m going to hike up there again in late June. Hope I still have the legs for it. And the lungs. It’s well worth the views.

  3. […] Skyline Trail, Alaska – Located on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, this strenuous trail is only for the serious hiker looking to spot dall sheep, moose and brown bear. There are also spectacular views of the Kenai Mountains, and Mt. McKinley can be seen on a clear day. […]

  4. Martin Bril — December 4, 2015

    I took a chance to do this hike in November as the area had been snow free for a week or so.
    I only encountered ice on the trail about half way through but nothing serious. The peak is definitely very windy all year round but even more so in the winter.
    Deep snow was encountered after the saddle, so without snow shoes I would suggest climbing the last part on the unexposed side of the mountain (less snow and less wind).
    I had a harder time doing it the summer because of the temperature that can easily get into the 80’s. So overall I would say that this hike is somewhat difficult, moderate if in descent shape.

  5. Tricia Young — August 11, 2015

    I went on the trail with the Nikiski Middle High School X-Country Team. I was a chaperone, but gave it a try. I am in my 50’s and not in shape for this steep hike, but I made it up about 1/2 way to the Saddle, I think. IT WAS STILL A BEAUTIFUL VIEW!

  6. […] Skyline Trail, Alaska – Located on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, this strenuous trail is only for the serious hiker looking to spot dall sheep, moose and brown bear. There are also spectacular views of the Kenai Mountains, and Mt. McKinley can be seen on a clear day. […]

  7. The following was submitted by Gonecampin:

    Rating: 5 moose hooves
    Difficulty: I thought it was VERY difficult! Granted, I am not in top physical condition but not terrible either, I try to keep in mind that not all hikers are seasoned climbers. Though it was very rough I found it to be so rewarding in so many ways.

    The mileage can be very deceiving in considering the difficulty of the hike.. It is easy to walk two miles unless you are going up a steep, rugged trail.

    There was a section of tall WET grass where we got soaked…however it didn’t take us long to dry out but if the temps are very low it could be very uncomfortable. The views make this hike so worth it!

  8. The following was submitted by Ryan Magee:

    I hike Skyline Trail on the Kenai Peninsula regularly. I read your review of the trail and thought I would point out a couple of slight errors. The topo map you have shows the route going up the peak to the west of the saddle, when indeed the peak where the registry is located is to the east of the saddle. The photo at the summit is of the peak to the east also. The mileage is confusing because the sign at the bottom only gives the distance to the saddle, where the “trail” essentially ends. However, it is 2 miles one way to the east peak. Also, the 1600 foot elevation gain is also only to the saddle, whereas the elevation gain to the peak is about 2888’. I love your sight and have gotten some valuable information from it. Keep it up!

    Webmaster’s note: I replaced my incorrect topo map with his amended one.

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