Travelers with experience in in brown bear country can follow a spectacular 25 mile hike along the park's Cook Inlet coast from Chinitna Bay to Silver Salmon Creek. This page provides information to help you plan your trip.
With four million undeveloped, wild acres to explore there are countless places go for adventure, solitude, and recreation in Lake Clark. Part of the purpose of the park is to allow for individual, personal exploration of wilderness; therefore the only maintained trails are the Tanalian Trails near Port Alsworth. This off-trail route can be expanded, reversed, or simply used to get an idea of the terrain in order to plan your own unique trip. Adventurers in Lake Clark will need to rely upon way-finding and trailless hiking skills, or hire a guide who can help.
Flying to the Park's Coast Most travelers fly in small planes operating on wheels that land on the beach. Though it is legal for float planes to land in the ocean, many operators choose not to take their float planes here due to the corrosive nature of salt water and the extreme tides in Cook Inlet.
Taking a Boat to the Park's Coast
It is also possible to travel across Cook Inlet in a boat, though seas are often rough. A one way trip from the Homer Harbor is approximately 50-60 miles, depending on your destination, and can take four to five hours depending on the boat and ocean conditions. Getting in and out of Silver Salmon Creek by boat can be challenging due to the extreme tides that flood and drain the mouth of the river.
(Approx): 25 miles.
Two to three days, one to two nights.
Straightforward beach hiking with river crossings. Mostly sand and gravel surfaces along the route, some boulders for short distances.
Excellent seasonal fishing (salmon runs from July to October). Great views, plentiful camping sites. This is a great way to get away from people as you will be traveling through areas that are not commonly visited.
A high density of both brown and American black bears live on the park's coast. While brown bears in Silver Salmon Creek and Chinitna Bay are accustomed to people, much of this hike crosses through territory where people seldom visit. Hikers should use extreme caution.
There are three river crossings, all of which are crossable during low tide on the tidal flats below the beach, except when river levels are abnormally high. When the rivers are flooding, it may be helpful to have a packraft to assist with crossings. The Red River is the largest of the three. During extreme high tides or when the river is flooding, it can be more than 60 meters wide and above waist deep in places.
Large cliff faces located on either side of Clam Cove in Chinitna Bay meet the high tide line and are not passable during the highest parts of the tide.
Most people hike between Silver Salmon Creek near the stream outlet and the west end of the spit at Chinitna Bay. Be aware of private property boundaries if you extend your hike onto the south side of Chinitna Bay or north into Tuxedni Bay.
This is a straightforward beach walk. If you stick to the beaches you will have no problem finding your way. Time your day's hiking around the tidal fluctuations. Use the Seldovia tidal charts and add .5 hours to the predicted cycles. Excellent camping sites abound. You will be exposed to the weather and elements on this route, it can be overly hot and dry or very cold and wet, you should be prepared for a range of weather.
You must be ready to store your food and anything with an odor such as deodorant, toothpaste, and fishing gear in a bear resistant food container or hung in a tree twelve feet off the ground and four feet away from the tree trunk. It may be difficult to locate trees large enough to properly hang food. Bear resistant food containers are strongly recommended. You should also cook at least 100 yards away from your camp to avoid an association made by the bear between your camp and your food. Set up camp away from bear trails and feeding areas (including sedge meadows and salmon stream banks). Portable electric fences to surround tents and gear at night are highly recommended for camping anywhere along the park's Cook Inlet coastline.