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Hike Skilak Lookout

Cooper Landing, Alaska

based on 2 reviews



5 miles

Elevation Gain

900 ft

Route Type



Added by Abby Vohaska

Hidden gem hike with 360 degree views! This is a rather easy to moderate trailhead. 120 miles East of Anchorage on the Kenai Peninsula. The trail is 2.5 miles one way with a gradual incline.

This was my very first afternoon in Alaska. By myself just meandering around the state by car with a map in my lap. Alaska - what a limitless place of adventure. 

For those who end up following me, I have a things for places with bodies of water surrounded by towering peaks - so off I was to find something secluded. On the way I stumbled into some rather interesting folks, one of which joined me, Mark McMillen, a character about my age. He was walking across Alaska with intent to raft his way back south & he was looking for something to do that afternoon so I let him tag along.

That is where we pointed to a lake on a map and said lets go see it, that lake would be Hidden Lake. 

The trailhead we found was Skilak Lake Lookout. The road there was a sturdy gravel road with no pot holes, it looked almost as if it was getting prepared to be paved (directions provided at the end). 

The trail begins at maybe 500 ft above sea level and reaches an elevation of probably 1,400 ft. This may not seem like the opportunity to see for what seems to be hundreds of miles, but oh it is! 

The trail starts out on a well marked wooded path and eventually opens up into tall grass and brush. The trail stays well marked but there were some overgrown sections. (Reminder that this is bear country and we saw plenty of scat on the way up, so a friendly reminder to make noise and come across as large as you can and follow proper protocol incase of an encounter.

Throughout the entire hike it stays at a steady gradual climb with one steep section that required a large step up and a but scoot on my way back down. After about a mile the views really begin show themselves. To your south Skilak Lake shows its massive self. The water still, quiet and reflective of the peaks surrounding it; not a single boat or person to disrupt its perfection. This began my love affair for the last frontier, and little did I know of the ventures I had in front of me. 

The hike took about an hour and a half to reach the top. Round trip this hike will take 3-4 hours depending on physical fitness levels. When you get to the top you are mistaken to think you are atop a towering peak because of how far north, south, east and west your eyes can gaze. To your north you can see Hidden Lake, and you turn around to your south, and Skilak Lake sparkles. Mark and I took some photos and found ourselves a place to sit and soak in the glaciered peaks around us until the sun was about to set.  

I loved this hike mainly for its lack of traffic. We did not see another person on that trail when we went on an early August afternoon. The sights were jaw dropping just as all of Alaska is, but if you want to avoid the masses, this is a must stop. 

This hike is also family friendly, anyone with sturdy and excited kids can do this as it is not very difficult. 

Directions from Anchorage: Follow AK-1 S for approximately 104 miles, take a left on Skilak Lake Rd on the Kenai Peninsula for about 11 miles where you will find the trailhead and parking lot.

Please respect the environment which you are in, Alaska is full of wildlife who depend on us respecting their territory. Leave No Trace 

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Hike Skilak Lookout Reviews

Based on the difficulty being low, I typically wouldn’t rate so high, but the views at the end make it awesome! For only being a 1000+ ft up they are great views over Skilak

I love this hike, it's a Kenai Peninsula classic! I try to do it every summer if I can. The trail does get limited traffic, so if you're going toward the end of summer it can be quite overgrown in parts.

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!


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