Swanson River Canoe System

Sterling, Alaska

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Rising in wetlands on the northern Kenai Peninsula, the gentle, slow-moving Swanson River links a 60-mile system of small lakes and rivers connected by portages ranging from a few hundred feet to more than a mile. The rolling hill country and lowlands, clad in white spruce and birch, lie east of the Kenai Mountains. Known as the Kenai Canoe Trails, the motor-free waterways of the Swanson River and Swan Lake canoe routes encompass one of only two wilderness canoe systems in the United States. The trails traverse the Dave Spencer Unit of the Kenai Wilderness within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. While close to civilization, the area is remarkably wild and is an exceptional paddling destination for those interested in a peaceful adventure with many opportunities for wildlife viewing.

Swanson River Canoe System Professional Review and Guide

"Rising in wetlands on the northern Kenai Peninsula, the gentle, slow-moving Swanson River links a 60-mile system of small lakes and rivers connected by portages ranging from a few hundred feet to more than a mile. The rolling hill country and lowlands, clad in white spruce and birch, lie east of the Kenai Mountains. Known as the Kenai Canoe Trails, the motor-free waterways of the Swanson River and Swan Lake canoe routes encompass one of only two wilderness canoe systems in the United States.

The trails traverse the Dave Spencer Unit of the Kenai Wilderness within the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. While close to civilization, the area is remarkably wild and is an exceptional paddling destination for those interested in a peaceful adventure with many opportunities for wildlife viewing."

Activity Type: Flatwater Kayaking & Canoeing
Nearby City: Sterling
Distance: 60
Skill Level: Easy to Difficult
Duration: 5-9 days
Season: May through October
Local Contacts: Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, Captain Cook State Recreation Area (at mouth of Swanson River).
Driving Directions: Directions to Swanson River Canoe System

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May 2018