In our own Backyard

Story last updated at 6:16 PM on Wednesday, September 14, 2011



By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer


Photo by Michael Armstrong

Diamond Creek Beach has rugged shores, steep cliffs, great views and beach treasures. Watch the tides, though, or you could be wading through surf.

For more than 10 years now, every fall I sign up for CoastWalk and volunteer again to clean up, monitor and survey my favorite Cook Inlet beach, Diamond Creek. Now in its 27th year, CoastWalk is the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies' annual effort to not just spiffy up local beaches, but survey tidal marine life, track erosion and note human impacts. CoastWalk started with an effort to remove junk from beaches — we're talking rusty old trucks and 55-gallon barrel drums — and grew to include citizen science.

I discovered Diamond Creek after I moved to Homer in 1994. It's across the Sterling Highway from Diamond Ridge Road. If this were Hawaii, we'd call it Secret Beach, because it's hard to find. Not that it's a secret — Diamond Greek is hike no. 29 in Taz Tally's "50 Hikes in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula." As well known as it might be, even on the nicest summer weekend I rarely see more than a dozen people on the beach.

Diamond Creek Trail and Beach


Diamond Creek trailhead, across the Sterling Highway from Diamond Ridge Road.


Hike to a secluded Cook Inlet beach.


Moderate to hard.

Gear desirable:

Good walking shoes; raincoat, hat, jacket (if rainy or cold); binoculars; camera; trekking poles; water and snacks.




Kachemak Bay State Park


.05 mile from trailhead to beach


About 1.5 hours from trailhead to beach and back.


Taz Tally, "50 Hikes in Alaska's Kenai Peninsula," The Countryman Press, 2008, $16.95.


Sponsored by the Center for Alaskan Coastal Studies. To volunteer, visit the CACS offices on Smokey Bay Way near Ulmer's, or call 235-6667.

Before the state bought an old subdivision near Diamond Gulch, you could drive a truck down a goat trail to the beach. Now part of Kachemak Bay State Park, and after the trail washed out in the 2000 floods, it's foot access only. You can drive a bumpy old subdivision road a half-mile from the highway to a dead end, but it's heck on rental cars. The trail winds through the woods and along the gulch from the end of the road to the beach.

Wear sturdy hiking shoes. I take trekking poles to steady myself going down and back up. As you hike to the beach, the gulch roars by through a steep canyon on the left. I love to turn the corner and see the first view of the inlet below and surf crashing on the beach.

As Tally writes, "Come down for the fabulous views and quick hit of the beach air, or build yourself a driftwood fire and hunker down with a book or explore the beach to your heart's delight."

For CoastWalk I monitor unit 2, the section of Diamond Creek Beach south of the creek to a seal haul out about two miles toward Homer. If you're feeling adventurous, you can park a car at Bishop's Beach and walk from Diamond Creek to town, about a two to three-hour hike. On a good low tide, it's almost flat sand. Feeling more adventurous? Head north to Anchor Point, maybe a three to four-hour hike.

On my cleanups I usually haul back two or three bags of marine debris, mostly plastic bottles. That's the dirty secret of Diamond Creek Beach: It catches a lot of marine debris from Cook Inlet. Buoys of all sort wash up here, as do fishing lures, fishing poles and nets.

Sometimes I find treasures, too. Over the years I have found three glass floats, a few cedar floats and even a bamboo stick. One CoastWalk I found a coat that had a Salt Lake City man's name and phone number in it. Fearing the worst, I called him up and was delighted to find he was alive and had lost the coat three months earlier in Resurrection Bay. I sent the coat back to him.

Diamond Creek also offers great birding, such as cormorants, harlequin ducks, murres and bald eagles. Otters and seals swim by the coast.

Geological treasures can be seen, too, like petrified wood and fossils. Two years ago part of Bluff Point slid and an uplift rose off the beach.

Mostly what Diamond Creek Beach offers is a quiet, secluded beach away from the relative crowds.

You don't have to go across the bay to find seclusion. With a little effort, Diamond Creek Beach offers that and more.

But pick up your trash, OK?

Michael Armstrong can be reached at