Kachemak Bay State Park & State Wilderness Park
Accessible only by boat or airplane, this park features outstanding scenic backdrops across the bay from Homer.
Just a short hop from Homer is Alaska's first state park and only designated wilderness park. Kachemak Bay State Park, along with the adjoining Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park to the south, contains almost 400,000 acres of mountains, glaciers, forests, and ocean.
THINGS TO DO
Many visitors escape into the wilderness for a few days of boating, kayaking, or hiking to such scenic areas as Grewingk Glacier, Poot Peak, China Poot Bay, Humpy Creek, Halibut Cove Lagoon, Tutka Bay, and Sadie Cove. Others reserve a public use cabin or book a week at a number of wilderness lodges in and around the park. Opportunities to camp and hike are excellent through the park’s forests and mountains and along the shore.
Kachemak Bay State Park is accessible by a short and scenic water taxi from Homer across Kachemak Bay. Water taxis can drop passengers off at various locations in the park to access hiking, camping, and paddling areas. Home to over 80 miles of trails, the park offers a fantastic network of hiking options to view glaciers, lakes, lush forests, and scenic alpine ridges. The most popular trail is the 3.2-mile-long Glacier Lake Trail out to Grewingk Glacier situated on the far end of Grewingk Glacier Lake. Other trails link beaches, coves, and the park’s several public use cabins.
Kayaking is another popular activity in Kachemak Bay State Park. The area’s protected coves and bays are ideal for exploring by kayak or stand up paddleboard. Kayaks can be rented in Homer and carried across the bay in water taxis.
Kachemak Bay is a critical habitat area, supporting many species of marine life. Therefore, wildlife is plentiful in this area. The rich lagoons and waters just offshore attract whales, sea otters, seals, porpoises, and impressive salmon runs. The seashore and tidal marshes are teeming with life: mollusks, anthropoids, and sea stars are just a few species that can be seen at low tide.
In many rivers and streams there are impressive runs of salmon, in particular kings, which gather in Halibut Cove Lagoon in May and June, and pinks, which spawn up Humpy Creek in July and August. Birders are particularly attracted to the area by a wide variety of seabirds, including horned and tufted puffins, eagles, pigeon guillemots, marbled murrelets, and common murres. Gull Island near Halibut Cove is a rookery for more than 12,000 seabirds, including puffins. On land, visitors may see black bears, moose, coyotes, and mountain goats.
From the 300,000-square-mile Harding Icefield and 4,000-foot glacial peaks to lush forests of spruce, moss, and shoulder-high devil's club, the beauty of the park is unparalleled. The shoreline is a ragged series of protected coves, bays, and lagoons, where intertidal zones are alive with starfish, crabs, and other marine life. The gravel beaches have long been favorites among campers and Homer clam diggers.
The indigenous inhabitants of this area harvested sustenance from Kachemak Bay’s diverse riches including fish, shellfish, marine mammals, and birds. By the time of European exploration, the area was the territory of the Dena’ina Athabascans. When Kachemak Bay State Park was designated in June 1970, it became Alaska’s very first state park.
FACILITIES AND CAMPING
With more than 80 miles of trails, 21 campsites, and dozens of protected coves and bays, there are numerous opportunities for kayakers, campers, hikers, and backpackers. Designated campsites are scattered throughout the park on the area’s beaches, lakes, coves, rivers, and forests. Many sites feature picnic tables, outhouses, fire pits, and bear boxes for storing food.
The park also features six public use cabins that can be reserved in advance, most of which are located in scenic spots overlooking the water. There are also six yurts that are managed by a private concessionaire. The cabins and yurts are rustic, containing wood stoves, wooden bunks, and outhouses. Some have boat access, and others are hike-in after your water taxi.
If rustic yurts and cabins aren’t your thing, private lodges within the park provide an option for visitors who wish to experience the park in a more luxurious manner. Most lodges offer guided hikes, wildlife viewing, and kayaking along with gourmet meals, comfortable beds, and transportation to and from Homer.
Explore more things to do in Homer.
For more information, visit the Kachemak Bay State Park website.
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