Grace Ridge can only be reached by water taxi but the views of Kachemak Bay from the ridgeline are incredible.
Over the long Fourth of July weekend, we packed our bags to explore areas around Kachemak Bay. After spending the night tent camping on the Homer Spit, we packed our gear and hopped on a quick water taxi to Grace Ridge.
Grace Ridge is a 9-mile hike that climbs through the rainforest towards 360-degree summit views of the surrounding mountains, fjords, and islands in Kachemak Bay. You can even see Homer in the distance.
In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Grace Ridge Trail near Homer, Alaska.
Hike Grace Ridge in Kachemak Bay
Traditional Land: Dena’ina, Alutiiq (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 9 miles one way
Time: 6-9 hours
Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
- Wear sun protection. It was cloudy and I still caught too much sun.
- Water is limited. I carried two liters with me on a cloudy day.
- Be bear aware. We saw a few piles of scat in the rainforest.
- Bring hiking poles. This is helpful on the steeper climbs.
- Don’t forget the summit beer. Just yum!
What is the Best Way to Hike Grace Ridge?
Grace Ridge can be hiked a few different ways and no matter which route you take the views will not disappoint. You can either hike from 1) Kayak Beach to South Grace Ridge, 2) Kayak Beach to Grace Ridge Summit and back, or 3) South Grace Ridge to Kayak Beach.
If you just don’t have a lot of time then hiking from Kayak Beach to the summit as an out-and-back trail is probably your best option.
However, hiking the trail as a thru-hike is hands down the best way to hike Grace Ridge, and it just makes the most sense. If you look at the trail map below, you will see that the Grace Ridge Summit is basically the halfway point and the elevation gain from either side is about the same.
Grace Ridge Trail Map
You can find a Grace Ridge Trail map here.
How to Get to Grace Ridge From Homer
The only way to get to Grace Ridge from Homer is by water taxi. Two companies on the Homer Spit that offer roundtrip services to Grace Ridge: Coldwater Alaska and Mako’s Water Taxi.
It was very busy during the Fourth of July weekend but we managed to get a taxi with Mako’s Water Taxi. It costs $95 per person to get dropped off at the South Grace Ridge Trailhead and picked up at Kayak Beach to get dropped off in Jakolof Bay later in the day. I think we were slightly overcharged so just make sure to verify current prices on their website.
Coldwater Alaska – (907) 299-2346, $85 roundtrip plus tax
Mako’s Water Taxi – (907) 235-9055, $100 roundtrip plus tax
Water Taxi Across Kachemak Bay
The water taxi leaves from the Homer boat harbor. Our small group piled into the boat shortly after 9:00 a.m. with three large backpacks and two dogs. The boat captain had a dog, too.
It takes around 30 minutes to reach Grace Ridge from Homer. Before making it all the way to South Grace Ridge Trailhead, we stopped at Kayak Beach on the north side to stash some of the backpacking gear that we needed to take with us to Seldovia.
You can find one bear-resistant food storage locker off to the left side of Kayak Beach near the trailhead. The storage locker has enough space to fit multiple backpacks and coolers. It’s better to leave your gear here for the day because you never know if the same boat will pick you up.
It doesn’t cost extra to make this stop and it’s the best way to store your gear if you’re only planning a day hike.
South Grace Ridge Trailhead
The trail from South Grace Ridge begins on the right side of the gravel beach. You will walk through a less developed campsite before signing in at the trail register.
Through the Rainforest
You’ll immediately start hiking in the rainforest and gradually climb through the alders. The rainforest is beautiful and the trail was pretty well maintained. There were beautiful ferns, giant Devils Club, and blueberries that we passed as we observed and photographed the local flora.
As the trail continues, the climbs will get steeper but views of Tutka Bay become visible. We saw a couple of piles of bear scat along the trail and a group of people passed us. The traffic here isn’t overwhelming, which makes it even more magical.
The trail is well marked with orange ties. As the season goes on there are a few different sections of the trail that will be very overgrown. I’ve been told that the trail is only maintained once a year during the springtime.
Read more: What to Wear Hiking in Alaska
As we started to make our way out of the alders, a bald eagle soared in the sky above us. We continued on as the climb got steeper. I used a hiking pole to help me up the steep ascent. The views got better, too, especially when Sadie Cove became visible to the east of us.
Along the Rocky Ridgeline
Once you reach the alpine ridge, you’ll notice how sharp the ridges are. It becomes a barren, rocky landscape and the views are seriously out of this world. Don’t forget to look around in all directions, there’s so much to see!
The main trail is pretty easy to follow and there are plenty of cairns that will lead you in the right direction.
The Grace Ridge summit is at 3105 feet. There is a BLM’s Cadastral Survey marker on the top as well.
We continued walking towards the other end side that was overlooking Tutka Bay. We decided to stop here and enjoy our summit beer! And, this is why it’s important to make sure you have enough time to really enjoy your hike here.
Descending Towards Kayak Beach
The first descent in the second half of the hike is a little steep. You’ll follow switchbacks down the trail through meadows and alders. Eventually, you will be in a Sitka Spruce forest and the only source of water can be found at mile 1.6.
The side of the Grace Ridge Trail is not as nice in my opinion. I noticed some areas where some work was done to clear out some trees and maintain some parts of the trail.
As you get closer to Kayak Beach, there’s a cross trail to the Sadie Cove anchorage. You’ll continue left towards Kayak Beach. A toilet is available near the trailhead and the trail ends on the right side of Kayak Beach.
By the time we reached Kayak Beach, it was nearly 7:00 p.m., which was our scheduled pickup time. We were surprised because most of the time the water taxi’s are running behind. We grabbed our gear from the storage locker and hopped on the boat with a few other people heading to Jakolof.
I loved this hike. It’s definitely one of my new favorite hikes in Alaska. The trail was so fun and the views were absolutely amazing. You get the water and the mountains all in one day and there are so many wildflowers to enjoy.
The weather was perfect for us. The day before was bluebird skies and it would’ve been too hot. The next day was pouring rain. The high cloud coverage cooled us down but still gave us the incredible views we were looking forward to.
Later that night, I was laughing to myself when I realized that our pace was 1 mile per hour! It was perfect for us because we had plenty of time to snack, take photos, and enjoy our tasty beverages.
Camping at Grace Ridge
If you want to stay overnight at Grace Ridge, you have a few options. You can stay at a developed campsite, rent a yurt, or wild camp.
Kayak Beach has developed campsites and a toilet to use, and a seasonal stream can be found at the beach. South Grace Trailhead also has a campsite but it is less developed, which makes it a little quieter. You will find a few seasonal creeks near South Grace Trailhead.
There are two yurts that you can rent at Grace Ridge. Kayak Beach Yurt is located on the north end and Tutka 1 Yurt is located at the South Grace Ridge Trail. Summer rates for a yurt are $77.25/night.
If you plan on wild camping, there are a few flat, open areas around mile 2 and 3 from the Kayak Beach side. The closest water is a stream near mile 1.6. There is no water on the ridge, but there were some spots that had good potential for pitching a tent.
How to Get to Seldovia From Grace Ridge
If you don’t want to head back to Homer after hiking, you can make your way to Seldovia. The easiest way to get to Seldovia is to get picked up at Kayak Beach and dropped off in Jakolof. You can arrange this through the water taxi company.
It takes about 15 minutes to get to Jakolof, and you can ask the water taxi to call you a cab on your way over. The cab costs $42 for up to three people to get to Seldovia from Jakolof Bay. We were picked up by Perley who owns Halo Cab (907) 399-4299. He is a really nice local and can take you anywhere else you need to go.
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Pin For Later
Do you have any questions on hiking Grace Ridge in Kachemak Bay State Park? Let me know in the comments.
We have a yurt reserved on the same night near both trailheads of grace ridge. Which trailhead would provide the best views if we do an out and back to the summit? Not a through hike. Please also suggest which yurt location might offer better views.
I would personally recommend the South Grace Ridge side of the trail but make sure to go to the end of the summit and you can turn around before the descent on the other side. As for yurts, both are in great locations. For views, you’ll probably have to leave the yurt and walk the beach. I want to say Kayak Beach gets a little more traffic than the other side because a lot of kayakers get dropped off here.
Watch my YouTube video for some more insight on the trail views.
Nice article. How bad do you think the mosquitoes will be the beginning of June and is the trail typically covered with snow that time of year?
Looks like a very nice hike.
It definitely has some of the best views in the park!