Crescent Lake

OutAndBack • 18.5 mi • 1050 ft

Hidden in a cluster of mountains north of Kenai Lake and south of the Y where the Sterling and Seward Highways split is smile-shaped Crescent Lake. Trails lead to it from each of the highways. Both the Crescent Creek Trail and Carter Lake Trail take hikers to high country right at tree line where open forests and patches of stunted evergreens give way to areas of tundra and grassland. The Crescent Creek Trail leads to the west end of Crescent Lake and is longer, gentler, and drier than the Carter Lake Trail. With more deciduous trees, it makes a glorious September hike through the golds and reds of autumn. The Carter Lake Trail climbs through rocky switchbacks for quicker access to tree line at Carter Lake and a beautiful, sometimes muddy trek across high wildflower meadows to the east end of Crescent Lake. The Crescent Creek Trail is especially good for families with children if they have reservations for overnight use of the U.S. Forest Service cabin at the west end of Crescent Lake. A rowboat goes with the cabin, and fishing for grayling is good. Nine miles of primitive trail connect the two ends of Crescent Lake along the lake’s south side.
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Activity Type: Hiking
Nearby City: Snug Harbor
Length: 18.5 total miles
Elevation Gain: 1,050 feet
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Duration: 3 hours - 8 hours
Season: June-Oct
Top Elevation: 1,550 feet
Local Contacts: Chugach National Forest
Local Maps: Trails Illustrated “Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and Adjacent Chugach National Forest”
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