There are over 25 miles of park trails, ranging from easy to difficult. Many climb over steep, rugged terrain, and offer excellent views. Others wind through coastal forest and meadows. Expect trails to be passable, although there may be areas of exposed rocks, roots, wet boggy areas, downed trees or tall grass. Trails and trailheads are marked with orange triangle signs with a "T" in the center.
Hiking times given are the minimum needed to hike the trail one way, by a person in good physical condition without a pack.
Be prepared for poor weather, both on the trail or while waiting for pick-up service, which can be delayed. Carry extra supplies.
Please practice minimum impact. Pack out what you pack in.
Do not build fires in vegetated areas. Fires are allowed only on gravel bars and beaches, and in fire grates provided at campsites, below timberline.
Hang food 15 feet high, well away from camp, out of reach of bears.
All surface water should be properly treated before consuming. Use biodegradable soap only, and never in streams or lakes. Discard wash water at least 200 feet away from water sources.
Please use trail registers. This information aids Park Rangers in management, maintenance, and search & rescue (if someone is reported overdue). You should leave a written trip plan with friends, family, and park rangers as well.
There are parcels of private property in the park. Please respect private property; avoid trespassing.
Commercial operators must have a permit to operate within park units. Authorized commercial tour services for Kachemak Bay.
All access to trailheads is by boat or plane. Several trailheads have mooring buoys offshore to tie a boat up to. Mooring buoys are located off the Saddle Trailhead, Rusty's Lagoon, Halibut Cove Lagoon, China Poot Lake Trailhead & Coalition Trail, and in Tutka Bay near the Public-Use Cabin. Do not tie up to the ring on top of the buoy. Instead, tie up to the small float and ring attached to the anchor chain. These buoys are suitable for vessels up to 35 feet in length. Do not tie up next to a vessel already at anchor on a buoy without the express permission of the vessel's operator. Authorized commercial air and water taxi services.
Crossing glacial streams may be necessary, depending on the trail taken. Glacial rivers vary in depth and current depending on the weather, but the water level is often lower in mornings than later in the day, due to nightly freezing at higher elevations. Water levels are generally lower in early summer and much higher in July and August. Choose a slow-moving, shallow spot to cross. Wearing a pair of neoprene booties or tennis shoes will make crossing these icy rivers easier.
Trails in Kachemak Bay State Park are maintained through the efforts of volunteers!
Length: 2.5 mi/4.0 km
Rating: Moderate to Difficult (long, steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 2 hours (to timberline)
Elevation Gain:1650 ft.
Trailhead Access: Saddle Trail to Lagoon Trail
Camping: No campsites at or near trailhead; no developed sites, backcountry camping above timberline. Alpine areas are extremely fragile; please practice no trace camping, no campfires.
Water Availability: Limited water, no streams; seasonal pools beyond trail end
Trail Description: A popular, quick route to alpine areas, this trail begins near the high point on the Saddle Trail and steeply follows a ridge through spruce and alder to alpine tundra, ending on a treeless knoll (near 2100 feet), with spectacular views of Grewingk Glacier and a deep glacial valley. Alpine Ridge Trail fact sheet and map.
Length: 2.6 mi/4.1 km
Rating: Moderate (short, steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access: Halibut Cove Lagoon (protected anchorage, with mooring buoys and public dock)
Camping: Developed campsites at Halibut Cove Lagoon Trailhead, and at China Poot Lake Campsite (popular)
Water Availability: At trailhead; several small streams along trail; China Poot Lake; Moose Valley Creek
Trail Description: This popular trail gently climbs through the forest and over a low ridge, passing two small lakes where common loons are common and blueberries are plentiful (August). The trail meanders through cottonwoods and ends at the China Poot Lake Campsite and inlet stream. Great camping or picnic site, great departure point for the Poot Peak or Wosnesenski areas. China Poot Lake Trail fact sheet and map.
Length: 5.5 mi/8.8 km
Rating: Moderate (short, steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 3 hours for loop
Elevation Gain: 400 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - China Poot Bay Trailhead (high tide only); and at mile 0.2 and mile 1.8 of China Poot Lake Trail.
Camping: Halibut Cove Lagoon Trailhead Campsite, China Poot Bay Trailhead
Water Availability: Small seasonal creeks, China Poot Lake
Trail Description: Connecting Halibut Cove Lagoon with China Poot Bay (1.6 miles) and dedicated to the Kachemak Bay Citizen's Coalition, this trail shares some of the 23,000 acres once destined for logging and development, which the grass-roots Coalition volunteers helped Alaska State Parks acquire. Extended in 1999 in a loop back to China Poot Lake Trail, near the north shore of China Poot Lake, the trail climbs over a low ridge from mile 0.2 of China Poot Lake Trail, opening to scenic views of China Poot Bay, where bald eagles soar over bluffs. Next, descending to China Poot Bay, a good stop for lunch or boat pick-up, the trail continues south. Just minutes beyond the bay it traverses steep, forested hillsides, then passes through low ridges and valleys - note the few hemlocks in this area. The trail then passes high along China Poot Creek to a spectacular overlook of China Poot Lake (mile 4.0). As the trail descends toward the lakeshore, it rejoins China Poot Lake Trail.
Length: 12.7 Miles round trip
Rating: Easy (flats) to difficult (long steep climbs)
Hiking Time: From Humpy Trailhead 5-7 hours; From Grewingk Tram 7 hours
Elevation Gain: 1650 ft.
Trailhead Access: Humpy Creek Trailhead, Grewingk Tram via Glacier Spit Trailhead.
Camping: Backcountry camping at Grewingk Glacier Lake; Humpy Creek Trailhead; Emerald Lake Campsite; above tree line (no fires); Tarn Lake at the end of Grewingk Glacier Spur Trail
Water Availability: Humpy Creek; Grewingk Creek and Lake (Glacial,) small ponds along Grewingk Creek; Upper Humpy Creek; Emerald Lake; seasonal snow fields and streams on Portlock Plateau
Trail Description: : This loop trail accesses beautiful Emerald Lake and its alpine surroundings. Starting at Humpy Creek Trailhead/Campsite, head south, crossing Humpy Creek (know for its pink "humpy" salmon,) crossing a flat, mostly open outwash plain (next 1.6 miles) and passes small blue pools of water. The trail then threads a narrow rocky "flume" where Grewingk Creek once flowed, to the cable tram that crosses Grewingk Creek. While camping is good here, remember that black bears frequent the area. From Grewingk Creek the trail climbs over Foehn Ridge, offering views of the Grewingk glacier and the outwash flats. Descending the ridge, it then crosses flatlands to Grewingk Glacier Lake. Look for glacier ice floating tin the lake. From Grewingk Lake, the trail climbs up exposed rock, then along a lateral moraine into forest, bridges upper Humpy Creek (1 mile) and climbs to tree line. At trail junction a short (800 ft.) spur trail leads to Emerald Lake and campsite (a small stream crossing here may be difficult during spring melt off.) Trail climbs to Portlock Plateau for fantastic views of Kachemak Bay. Look for bears and mountain goats on high ridges. Alpine portions of the trail are marked with rock cairns and white spars. Trail descends a ridge (follow cairns and/or spars carefully) into the alders and on to spruce forest plagued by spruce bark beetles and wind storms, past the Mallard/Emerald Connector Trail to the tidewater flats of Kachemak Bay. Continue South along the tidewater flats (areas flood at extreme high tide) ending at Humpy Creek Trailhead/Campsite.
Length: 3.6 miles
Rating: Easy, popular family hike
Hiking Time: 80 minutes from Glacier Spit Trailhead (wind exposed beach: morning drop-off best, afternoon/evening pick-up at Saddle Trailhead.) And out the Saddle Trail (½ mile from Grewingk Lake)
Elevation Gain: 50 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - Glacier Spit Trailhead (wind exposed beach, morning drop-off best); Saddle Trail (afternoon/evening pick-up best at Saddle Trailhead)
Camping: Small camping area at Glacier Spit Trailhead; Right Beach (accessible at low tide from Glacier Spit); Grewingk Lake.
Camping Advisory: Please consider camping on higher portion of Grewingk Lake flats: landslides from area ridges falling into lake could generate large splash waves (50 feet or more) along shores.
Water Availability: Right Beach; small stream near the junction of the Saddle Trail.
Trail Description: A popular loop route joined by the Saddle and Glacier Lake Trails. This trail crosses flat terrain, through stands of cottonwoods and spruce, and across the dry outwash plain of Grewingk Glacier. It ends at the broad, open beaches of Grewingk Glacier Lake. This trail offers superb views of the glacier and its surrounding peaks. This is an excellent day hike.
Length: 1.5 mi/2.4km
Rating: Difficult (primitive route, very steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours to summit (3160 feet)
Elevation Gain: 1960 ft.
Trailhead Access: Lagoon Trail, 2 miles from ranger station.
Camping: No developed campsites; backcountry camping above timberline (no campfires)
Water Availability: None, seasonal snowfields
Trail Description: This short, steep, unmaintained route begins at the highest point on the Lagoon Trail and leads hikers up to alpine areas. Rock cairns mark the trail to an open alpine ridge, where the trail gently climbs to a summit that has some of the finest views anywhere of Kachemak country. This summit rivals Poot Peak for its views, without the hazardous rocky climbs. Travel beyond the 3160 foot summit is difficult. Please exercise foresight and caution.
Length: 8.2 mi/13.2 km
Rating: Moderate to Difficult (long climbs)
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours to first alpine knob, 2.5 hours to summit, 6-8 hours entire trail
Elevation Gain: First knob at 1745 feet, summit at 3145 feet
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - north end at Kayak Beach Campsite (exposed site - a short connector trail offers alternative anchorage on Sadie Cove side of point), south end at South Grace trailhead with good anchorage (across Tutka Bay from Sea Star Cove Public-Use Cabin).
Camping: Kayak Beach Campsite (developed) at trailhead, alpine areas (no fires), South Grace Trailhead (undeveloped).
Water Availability: Seasonal stream at Kayak Beach, good stream near mile 1.6, no water on ridge, seasonal creeks near South Grace Trailhead.
Trail Description: The trail begins on left side of gravel beach at Kayak Beach Campsite (an area once used as a rock quarry). It follows an old road now densely inhabited by alders, then begins climbing through an old growth Sitka spruce forest. Mile 1.4 offers an excellent view of Sadie Knob. Huge spruce trees dot the narrow ridge and the roar of hidden waterfalls below can be heard. At mile 1.6, a creek rushing along the trail offers a good water source (before climbing to alpine area). Climbing on through sub-alpine alders and meadows to mile 2.9, an alpine knob (1745 feet) offers an excellent destination for a half-day hike. Stunning views of Eldred Passage, Sadie Peak, Cook Inlet volcanoes and beyond are available here. Watch for mountain goats, black bears, golden and bald eagles. To continue, follow the marked route through the alders to the southeast, cross a saddle, and climb the alpine ridgelines to the peak (3105 feet). There is good spring skiing in this area's bowls. The alpine portions of this route are unmarked, but it is easy to follow the "knife" ridges. Descending into the alders again, the trail switchbacks into the spruce forest, ending at Tutka Bay. Grace Ridge Trail fact sheet and map.
Length 1.5 miles
Hiking Time: 45 minutes (from Emerald Lake Loop Trail and Blue Ice Trail junctions)
Elevation Gain: 100 ft.
Trailhead Access: Humpy Creek Trailhead, Mile 4.9 Emerald Lake Loop Trail; Glacier Spit Trailhead via Grewingk Tram
Camping: Humpy Creek Campsite; Glacier Spit Trailhead/Campsite; Grewingk Creek and Grewingk Glacier Lake areas; Tarn Lake (located at the end of the trail)
Water Availability: Grewingk Creek and Lake (glacial); Humpy Creek; Tarn Lake
Trail Description: The only developed access to the glacier, this trail starts at mile 4.9 Emerald Lake Loop Trail, passes along the shoreline of Grewingk Lake, and follows a creek to Tarn Lake, a small lake in an area recently covered with glacial ice and hence denuded of vegetation. Once being able to see a face of the glacier, it has receded leaving a terminal moraine in its wake. Hikers can hike a short way to the moraine and look down on the glacier, or explore newly exposed rocky ridges to the right (south) of this point.
CAUTION: Unless properly trained and outfitted for glacial travel, do not climb on the ice or in ice caves: Hidden crevasses (cracks) are deadly perils. Enjoy this natural wonder form a safe distance.
Length 1 mile
Hiking Time: 30 minutes
Trailhead Access: mile 1.4 Glacier Lake Trail via Glacier Spit Trailhead; Mile 2.2 Emerald Lake Trail via Humpy Creek Trailhead
Camping: Glacier Spit trailhead/campsite; Humpy creek Campsite; Grewingk Lake
Water Availability: Grewingk creek and lake (glacial); Humpy creek; Small ponds along portions of Emerald Lake Trail
Trail Description: This trail connects the Glacier Lake Trail and the Emerald Lake Trail. Starting at Mile 1.4 Glacier Lake Trail, turn left (north), and soon the forest fades into a dry gravel glacial outwash plain of low alders and shrubs where occasional cairns define the trail. The trail re-enters a small stand of trees ending at the 250 ft. Grewingk Creek Tram in a narrow channel of bedrock. Emerald Lake Trail is on the other side of Grewingk Creek
Grewingk Tram: this is a hand operated cable car pulley system. Operation may require 2 people; maximum weight of 2 people w/packs or 500 lbs. (227kg).
Length 1.2 miles
Rating: Difficult (long steep climb)
Hiking Time: 30-45 minutes
Elevation Gain: 500 ft.
Trailhead Access: Emerald Lake Trail via Humpy creek Trailhead; Mallard Bay trail via Mallard bay Trailhead
Water Availability: Humpy creek; Seasonal Creek Mallard Bay trailhead
Trail Description: This trail connects the Mallard Bay Trail with the Emerald Lake Trail. From 0.2 mile Mallard Bay Trail, the forest has been devastated by spruce bark beetle and wind blow down. Trail climbs via switchbacks, steeply, to the Emerald Lake Trail
Length: 6.2 mi/10.0 km
Rating: Difficult (several long, steep climbs, narrow trail, wet areas, glacial stream crossing)
Hiking Time: 5-7 hours minimum, 1.5 days recommended
Elevation Gain: 1200 ft.
Trailhead Access: North End - Saddle Trail; South End - Halibut Cove Lagoon Ranger Station.
Camping: Halibut Creek Flats, near creek crossing; Halibut Cove Lagoon Ranger Station Campsite.
Water Availability: None at Saddle Trailhead; Halibut Creek (glacial/silty); numerous small streams along trail.
Trail Description: This is a challenging, diverse, and primitive route connecting the Grewingk and China Poot areas. From the Saddle Trail, the Lagoon Trail skirts above Halibut Cove, then drops to Halibut Creek Flats. There is no bridge at Halibut Creek. It is recommended that the stream be waded at low tide out on the tidal flats where the water will be shallower - otherwise expect swift, icy, knee to waist-deep water. Find the trail again by following orange trail markers around the tidal flats. A series of steep switchbacks then climbs into spruce forest to an intersection with Goat Rope Spur Trail, near timberline. The trail continues south, crossing a cascading creek and ends at the ranger station after steep switchbacks.
Note: This is a rugged, difficult, and exhausting trail. Round-trips are NOT recommended; hikers who have completed the Lagoon Trail rarely opt to backtrack and rehike it.
Length: 1 mi/ 1.6 km
Rating: Easy to Moderate (short, steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 30 minutes
Elevation Gain: 250 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - Mallard Bay (high-tide access only, stay right when approaching trailhead, bay goes dry at low tide).
Camping: Tent platform and outhouse at trailhead. Undeveloped camping on small beach north of trailhead (extreme high-tides flood the trailhead beach).
Water Availability: Seasonal water at trailhead; glacial water in Portlock River
Trail Description: This trail crosses a ridge to Portlock Glacier Valley and ends. It offers an open approach to Portlock Glacier and the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. It also accesses Humpy Creek Trail, ten minutes from Mallard Bay.
Length: 6.7 mi/ 10.7 km
Rating: Moderate to Difficult (long grades)
Hiking Time: 3 - 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet
Trailhead Access: North end - Mile 1.0 China Poot Lake Trail near Two Loon Lake; South end - Mile 0.8 Poot Peak Trail South Route.
Camping: Good camping on creek gravel bars above the bridge near mile 1.2, developed site at mile 1.6, subalpine meadows near Poot Peak.
Water Availability: Two Loon Lake, Moose Valley Creek, small streams, Garden Lakes.
Trail Description: Beginning at China Poot Lake Trail junction (mile 1.0), this trail passes along the shore of Two Loon Lake, ascends through forested ridges and valleys, and then opens into Moose Valley's cottonwood meadows - alive with wildflowers and cow parsnip in mid-summer. Be attentive - tall grasses can obscure trail markers. Look for high waterfalls beyond the log footbridge over Moose Valley Creek and the gravel bar campsite (mile 1.6). Watch for goats on mountain ridges. Trail turns south, then switchbacks up the back of Poot Peak and passes the subalpine "Garden" lakes. (Trail here may be obscurred by snow in early summer.) Trail ends at intersection with Poot Peak Trail. Moose Valley Trail fact sheet and map.
Length: 4.22 mi.
Rating: Difficult (very steep, slick, rocky climbs)
Hiking Time: From China Poot Lake to summit: North Route: 3 - 4 hours; South Route 4 - 5 hours
Elevation Gain: 2430 ft.
Trailhead Access: China Poot Lake Trail to China Poot Lake.
Camping: China Poot Lake Campsite
Water Availability: Moose Valley Creek; small creek near trailhead; seasonal snowfields; no water on peak.
Trail Description: From China Poot Lake Campsite, this popular trail circles Poot Peak and climbs the 2600-foot summit.
The North Route(1.1 mile) climbs from the Wosnesenski River Trail, 0.4 miles from the bridge at China Poot Lake. The steep, slick, unmaintained route climbs rapidly through the spruce forest, alders, and loose scree slopes.
The Summit Spur(1.1 miles from trailhead) leads to the peak, climbing very steeply for the next 0.2 miles to a rocky bench, or "Lower Summit" (2100 feet). This is a good stop for those unprepared to summit.
CAUTION: It is recommended that only climbers with rock climbing training continue beyond this point.
Climbing the 2600-foot peak is hazardous due to shifting scree and rock. Hand and foot holds are poor at best, and worse when wet. The rewards above treeline include superb views of Wosnesenski Glacier and Kachemak Bay.
The lightly used South Route (2.8-miles) begins after the Summit Spur junction, passing alder thickets, meadows, and ponds. Poot Peak South offers stunning views of alpine lakes, expansive glaciers and the Kenai Mountains. Poot Peak Trail fact sheet and map.
Length: 1.0 mi/1.6 km
Rating: Moderate (short, steep climbs)
Hiking Time: 25 minutes
Elevation Gain: 350 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - Halibut cove (protected anchorage, mooring buoys), good afternoon pick-up.
Camping: No camping at trailhead; Grewingk Glacier Lake sites.
Water Availability: No water at trailhead; small stream near the junction with Glacier Lake Trail.
Trail Description: Leading over a low ridge between Halibut Cove and the Grewingk Glacier, the trail provides a popular loop with the Glacier Lake Trail. The trail switchbacks through steep, forested terrain and accesses the Alpine Ridge and Lagoon Trails. Cliffs prohibit hiking the beach from the trailhead to the Right Beach Campsite, boat transport is necessary.
Note: Please respect private property near the trailhead.
Length: 6.3 mi/10.1 km
Rating: Moderate to Difficult (long climbs)
Hiking Time: 3 hours to Sadie Knob
Elevation Gain: 2100 feet
Trailhead Access: Marine Access: North Eldred - north end of beach, north of Anisom Point; South Eldred - north of Sadie Cove Inlet, north of small islands. Please respect private properties south of these two trailheads.
Camping: North and South Eldred Campsites (developed) at trailheads, camping (undeveloped) in alpine areas, no open fires.
Water Availability: Seasonal creeks at both trailheads, good stream (Quiet Creek) near mile 1.7 (north trail) and mile 2.0 (south trail), small streams near low areas, no water on summit.
Trail Description: Sadie Knob Trail accesses an alpine ridge (visible from Homer) between Sadie Cove and Kachemak Bay. It does not access Sadie Cove and Kachemak Bay. It does not access Sadie Peak to the south. The North (1.7 miles) and the South (2.0 miles) Routes connect the north and south ends of Eldred Passage - both join the Ridge Route at Quiet Creek. The Ridge Route climbs through spruce forest, flowery meadows and along a subalpine lake. Emerging above timberline, and marked only with rock cairns or orange trail markers, the trail follows the ridgeline to Sadie Knob (2100 feet). From Sadie Knob, hikers gain superb and expansive 360 degree views of Kachemak Bay, Sadie Peak, Sadie Cove, Eldred Passage and Cook Inlet volcanoes. Watch for mountain goats, black bears and eagles.
Caution: Vertical cliffs and rugged country! Clouds often shroud the Sadie Knob, Emerald Lake and Grace Ridge areas, limiting visibility to under 50 feet. Trail "treads" do not exist in alpine areas, markers may not be visible, one to the next, and topography can be extremely confusing. Hikers may stray down wrong ridgelines, losing direction and trails. Often by waiting a short while, clouds will lift, offering glimpses of trail markers. Saddle Knob Trail fact sheet and map.
Length: 2.0 mi/3.2 km
Rating: Easy to Moderate
Hiking Time: 1 hour
Elevation Gain: 250 ft.
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - Tutka Bay Lagoon (high-tide access only); Jakolof Road Trailhead.
Camping: Developed campsite at Tutka trailhead; NO camping at Jakolof end.
Water Availability: Small streams along trail.
Trail Description: This trail joins Tutka Bay Lagoon and the Rocky River road. It climbs over a series of low ridges and through small valleys. Much of this trail is located on the property of the Seldovia Native Association; please stay on the main trail, a five-foot easement.
Length: 2.9 mi/4.7 km
Hiking Time: 1.5 hours to trail end
Elevation Gain: 400 feet
Trailhead Access: Marine Access - Tutka Lake Trailhead and Campsites; Sea Star Cove Public-Use Cabin.
Camping: Tutka Lake Trailhead and Campsite.
Water Availability: Seasonal at trailhead, Tutka Lake
Trail Description: From Tutka Lake Trailhead, the trail climbs briefly before intersecting the trail to the Sea Star Cove Cabin. It continues through spruce forest and along Tutka Lake, and intersects the trail to the Tutka Bay Lagoon fish hatchery (0.5 mile to hatchery). The main trail continues along the west shore of Tutka Lake, then turns and crosses a low saddle before climbing and following high above Tutka Creek. The trail dead ends near the Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park boundary, showcasing the Tutka Creek waterfalls.
Length: 11.6 miles/18.5 km
Rating: Moderate (long switchbacks) to easy (along river flats)
Hiking Time: 10 hours from Haystack Trailhead to China Poot Lake
Elevation Gain: 300 ft.
Trailhead Access: China Poot Lake Campsite (0.4 mile Poot Peak Trail); Marine access (tide dependent) at Haystack Trailhead.
Camping: China Poot Lake Campsite; undeveloped sites near junction with Poot Peak South Route and along Wosnesenski River flats; Haystack Trailhead beach area.
Water Availability: Moose Valley Creek, China Poot Lake, several small lakes, Wosnesenski River (glacial, silty), Stonehocker Creek.
Trail Description: The trail begins along the Poot Peak Trail, about 10 minutes from the bridge at China Poot Lake. From here, it winds pleasantly through forests, meadows and bogs, along the shores of three lakes. It then climbs a low ridge and drops into the Wosnesenski River Valley. Heading west from the expansive gravel bars of the river here, the trail climbs over a ridge and continues along the river, winding in and out of groves of large cottonwoods. A spectacular 600 foot waterfall is visible from several miles across the valley. After passing powerlines, the trail intersects with a small utility access road. Turn right (north) and follow the road to Haystack Trailhead.
If starting from the Haystack bulletin board, an orange triangle seen across the flats to the southeast marks the trail. The Wosnesenski River is a typical glacial river, braided with gravel flats on either side, a highly scenic area with sweeping vistas of mountains and glaciers to the south. Wosnesenski River Trail fact sheet and map.
Note: Tidal flats at Haystack Trailhead flood at 16+ foot tides.