Web posted Wednesday, May 8, 2002

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In recent years, several new trails have opened up the high country above Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay State Park


One of the largest coastal parks in the United States, Kachemak Bay State Park and the adjoining Wilderness Park stretch more than 200 miles along the pristine coastline of Kachemak Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. Their 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, lakes, islands, beaches and rugged shoreline give the park a variety of ecosystems and geological diversity.

The protected coves and fjords of Kachemak Bay abound with marine life to catch or watch. Kayaking and wildlife observation are within easy reach, and beach camping is superb. The uplands offer hiking and mountaineering. The park has 21 remote campsites, five public use cabins to rent and nearly 90 miles of trails and routes to explore. Interactive video display terminals are at the Homer Airport, Chamber of Commerce office and the Parks headquarters.

Getting there is easy, but requires planning. More than 20 air and water taxi services provide access to the park.

Visitor information

The District Ranger Station has maps, wildlife displays and brochures on the park,but is open limited hours. Call (907) 235-7024, visit the office about four miles north of Homer on the Sterling Highway, or write Kachemak Bay State Park, P.O. Box 321, Homer, AK 99603. The main Division of Parks office is in Soldotna at (907) 262-5581. The Homer Chamber of Commerce also has information and maps available for sale.

What to do

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Hiking, kayaking and fishing opportunities abound throughout the park, but the Halibut Cove Lagoon area could be considered the hub. King salmon fishing is good from mid-May to July in the lagoon, which is a 30-minute boat ride from Homer. A park ranger station and floating dock are there, and hiking trails fan out in several directions.

Relatively new to the park are public use cabins. Halibut Cove Lagoon has three, and others are available in China Poot Bay and Tutka Bay. Each costs $50 per night and sleeps six people. The Lagoon Overlook cabin has a living room, two bedrooms with bunkbeds, a sink inside with water available outside, sanitation facility and a deck. The others have the same amenities but only one large room. All the cabins have wood stoves, and the Lagoon East cabin is handicap accessible. Make reservations months in advance, however. For reservations or more information, call (907) 269-8400 or 262-5581.

Starting at the Halibut Cove Ranger Station is China Poot Lake trail, which invites sport fishermen, hikers and campers. A good overnight backpack route starts on the Wosnesenski Glacier Trail, then connects to China Poot Lake and Halibut Cove Lagoon. The particularly adventurous can take in Poot Peak, too.

Day hikers or those with small children might consider Glacier Spit Trail, which begins at a well-marked trailhead on Glacier Spit and offers flat walking along the moraine to breathtaking -- and chilly -- views of the glacier and the lake at its toe. In spite of how close it looks on the map, access to Grewingk Glacier itself is difficult and should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers. A hand-operated tram crosses Grewingk Creek, connecting trails that continue eastward to Emerald Lake, Humpy Creek and Mallard Bay. Or take the Alpine Ridge Trail up into the highlands for spectacular views of glaciers.

West of Halibut Cove is China Poot Bay, which is a major bird breeding and rearing area, attracting naturalists and photographers. In nearby Peterson Bay, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies sponsors seabird observation, intertidal exploration and a nature trail hike. Northwest of Halibut Cove, there's good sport fishing at Humpy Creek for pink salmon and Dolly Varden.

The quiet waters of Tutka Bay offer clamming and fishing, and make a good destination for kayakers. Visit the salmon hatchery in Tutka Lagoon, or beach your boat and hike up into the tundra on the Grace Ridge Trail or the Sadie Ridge Trail.

Safety

When camping use portable stoves. Fires are allowed on beaches or gravel bars only. Firewood must be down -- that is, fallen -- and it must be dead, not just a slumped, living tree. Cutting branches from standing trees or brush is prohibited.

Water is available from streams or springs, but filtering it or boiling it is recommended to remove any giardia bacteria.

There have been no reported incidents of bear attacks in Kachemak Bay State Park, but campers should store food away from camp, and clean up thoroughly after meals, leaving no scraps or food-soiled clothing to attract animals of any kind.

The park's remoteness and changing weather conditions require caution. Be prepared. Leave a trip plan with a friend, park rangers or at the trailhead sign-in notebooks. In emergencies, park rangers and volunteer emergency personnel are not always readily available. Carry a first aid kit. Cell phones or handheld VHF radios are a good option.

CAPTION:In recent years, several new trails have opened up the high country above Kachemak Bay.

HEAD:Kachemak Bay State Park

One of the largest coastal parks in the United States, Kachemak Bay State Park and the adjoining Wilderness Park stretch more than 200 miles along the pristine coastline of Kachemak Bay and the Gulf of Alaska. Their 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, lakes, islands, beaches and rugged shoreline give the park a variety of ecosystems and geological diversity.

The protected coves and fjords of Kachemak Bay abound with marine life to catch or watch. Kayaking and wildlife observation are within easy reach, and beach camping is superb. The uplands offer hiking and mountaineering. The park has 21 remote campsites, five public use cabins to rent and nearly 90 miles of trails and routes to explore. Interactive video display terminals are at the Homer Airport, Chamber of Commerce office and the Parks headquarters.

Getting there is easy, but requires planning. More than 20 air and water taxi services provide access to the park.

Visitor information

The District Ranger Station has maps, wildlife displays and brochures on the park,but is open limited hours. Call (907) 235-7024, visit the office about four miles north of Homer on the Sterling Highway, or write Kachemak Bay State Park, P.O. Box 321, Homer, AK 99603. The main Division of Parks office is in Soldotna at (907) 262-5581. The Homer Chamber of Commerce also has information and maps available for sale.

What to do

Hiking, kayaking and fishing opportunities abound throughout the park, but the Halibut Cove Lagoon area could be considered the hub. King salmon fishing is good from mid-May to July in the lagoon, which is a 30-minute boat ride from Homer. A park ranger station and floating dock are there, and hiking trails fan out in several directions.

Relatively new to the park are public use cabins. Halibut Cove Lagoon has three, and others are available in China Poot Bay and Tutka Bay. Each costs $50 per night and sleeps six people. The Lagoon Overlook cabin has a living room, two bedrooms with bunkbeds, a sink inside with water available outside, sanitation facility and a deck. The others have the same amenities but only one large room. All the cabins have wood stoves, and the Lagoon East cabin is handicap accessible. Make reservations months in advance, however. For reservations or more information, call (907) 269-8400 or 262-5581.

Starting at the Halibut Cove Ranger Station is China Poot Lake trail, which invites sport fishermen, hikers and campers. A good overnight backpack route starts on the Wosnesenski Glacier Trail, then connects to China Poot Lake and Halibut Cove Lagoon. The particularly adventurous can take in Poot Peak, too.

Day hikers or those with small children might consider Glacier Spit Trail, which begins at a well-marked trailhead on Glacier Spit and offers flat walking along the moraine to breathtaking -- and chilly -- views of the glacier and the lake at its toe. In spite of how close it looks on the map, access to Grewingk Glacier itself is difficult and should only be attempted by experienced mountaineers. A hand-operated tram crosses Grewingk Creek, connecting trails that continue eastward to Emerald Lake, Humpy Creek and Mallard Bay. Or take the Alpine Ridge Trail up into the highlands for spectacular views of glaciers.

West of Halibut Cove is China Poot Bay, which is a major bird breeding and rearing area, attracting naturalists and photographers. In nearby Peterson Bay, the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies sponsors seabird observation, intertidal exploration and a nature trail hike. Northwest of Halibut Cove, there's good sport fishing at Humpy Creek for pink salmon and Dolly Varden.

The quiet waters of Tutka Bay offer clamming and fishing, and make a good destination for kayakers. Visit the salmon hatchery in Tutka Lagoon, or beach your boat and hike up into the tundra on the Grace Ridge Trail or the Sadie Ridge Trail.

Safety

When camping use portable stoves. Fires are allowed on beaches or gravel bars only. Firewood must be down -- that is, fallen -- and it must be dead, not just a slumped, living tree. Cutting branches from standing trees or brush is prohibited.

Water is available from streams or springs, but filtering it or boiling it is recommended to remove any giardia bacteria.

There have been no reported incidents of bear attacks in Kachemak Bay State Park, but campers should store food away from camp, and clean up thoroughly after meals, leaving no scraps or food-soiled clothing to attract animals of any kind.

The park's remoteness and changing weather conditions require caution. Be prepared. Leave a trip plan with a friend, park rangers or at the trailhead sign-in notebooks. In emergencies, park rangers and volunteer emergency personnel are not always readily available. Carry a first aid kit. Cell phones or handheld VHF radios are a good option.

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