Kachemak Bay State Park is Alaska’s very first state park and was founded in 1970. Located approximately 225 miles south of Anchorage, this extremely remote park, including the Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park to the south, contains just under 400,000 acres of rugged beauty along the Kenai Peninsula, with Kenai Fjords National Park just to the northeast. The park includes Nuka Island, most of the Kachemak Bay shoreline, a portion of the Kenai Mountains, the western territory of the Nuka Passage, and more; you’ll discover many natural attractions at this Alaska state park, such as the Grewingk Glacier, China Poot Bay, and Halibut Cove Lagoon.
You’ll experience unsettled, rocky topography—which provides visible proof of the volatility of Earth’s crust—alongside coastal sands, evergreen forests, and vast glaciers; this means that Kachemak Bay State Park not only provides a variety of habitats for its resident wildlife but also offers year-round activities for all interests and skill levels. Note that you can only access the park by air or boat; rentals and shuttles are available in Homer, directly across Kachemak Bay to the west.
The remoteness of Kachemak Bay State Park provides an especially abundant wildlife population, and birdwatching is very popular here—as is fishing, hunting, and trapping. There are many other outdoor activities on offer, as well (for those willing to boat, fly, or trek their way into this wilderness), such as biking, trail hiking, glacier traversing, wildlife viewing, camping, bird-watching, fishing, hunting, kayaking, skiing, and much more.
Boating and Rafting at Kachemak Bay State Park
Motorized boating is only allowed on salt water (such as Kachemak Bay and its tributaries), China Poot Lake, Petrof Lake, and Hazelle Lake; all other boating within the state park is limited to the use of kayaks, sailboats, rafts, canoes, or other non-motorized boats. The Kachemak Bay Water Trail is a great way to explore the park by boat, especially if you are not a hiker. You’ll find boat launches, moors, trailheads, and overnight shelters at many of the stops along this unique attraction.
Mountain Biking at Kachemak Bay State Park
Recreational biking and mountain biking are permitted on many of the trails within the park and are clearly marked; skill levels range from paved/easy to technical/hard. Fat-tire bikes are also allowed on any bike-friendly trail, and the park hopes to soon expand usage for these bikes on some shoreland areas.
Horseback Riding at Kachemak Bay State Park
There are six pack-and-saddle trails within the park, all of which are currently shared-use with hikers and/or bikers.
Hiking at Kachemak Bay State Park
Featuring 17 trails that offer over 25 miles of backwoods hiking options—most of which are multi-use and require a boat to reach the trailhead—Kachemak Bay State Park’s trail network provides routes for all skill levels. Note that there is little to no cell service within the park, and no nearby emergency services; always let someone know your route before you go, and be as prepared as possible for any eventuality.
Here are some of the more popular trails at Kachemak Bay State Park:
- Alpine Ridge Trail: Moderate to difficult, 5.2-mile out-and-back trail with a 1,650’ elevation gain offering views of Grewingk Glacier and its valley.
- Coalition Loop Trail: Moderate, 5.5-mile loop trail with a 400’ elevation gain that includes steep terrain and views of China Poot Bay;
- Mallard Bay Trail: Easy to moderate, 1-mile out-and-back trail with a 250’ elevation gain that crosses a ridge and terminates at the Portlock Glacier; boat access to trailhead is required.
Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Other Winter Trail Activities at Kachemak Bay State Park
This year-round park lends itself to an expansive list of winter adventures, such as snowboarding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, classic and skate skiing, dog mushing, skijoring, and winter mountain biking. The expansive snowfields and glaciers are a true sight to behold and provide miles of breathtaking scenery for all manner of winter-style locomotion.
Fishing and Hunting at Kachemak Bay State Park
Fishing, hunting, and trapping are permitted in Kachemak Bay State Park; state licenses are required for all three activities, and all Alaska regulations and fishing/hunting seasons must be followed. There are six large lakes and many smaller streams and rivers within the park—and of course, the Kachemak Bay. Depending on the season, some of the fish found in the park and bay are Pacific halibut and cod, as well as salmon, including chum, pink, chinook, and coho.
Nature & Wildlife at Kachemak Bay State Park
The Kachemak Bay State Park is home to a wide variety of land and marine wildlife, thanks to the six different natural habitats that exist within its borders. Some of the marine wildlife that inhabits the lakes, rivers, and waters of Kachemak Bay include northern sea otters, minke whales, harbor seals and porpoise, orcas, and humpback whales. Terrestrial wildlife you might see in the park include moose, mountain goats, coyote, bears, lynx, wolves, and snowshoe hares. The park is also home to state critical habitat areas, and nearly 225 different species of birds have been identified at Kachemak, including golden eagles, osprey, kestrel, petrel, loon, and many more.
Dogs are welcome in the state park—as long as they are under control at all times, whether on-leash or off; some areas require your pet be leashed due to wildlife activity and will be noted as such with signage.
There are five public-use cabins (PUCs) and 8 yurt rentals at Kachemak Bay State Park, and tent camping is permitted almost everywhere within the park. There are also several camping areas with features like fire rings, bear-resistant food storage, tent platforms, picnic tables, and toilets; locations of these spots can be found on the website’s map of the park.
Kachemak Bay State Park
Homer, AK, 99603
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing several attractions at Kachemak Bay State Park:
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