Hike Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing

Slaughter Gulch is a steep hike in Cooper Landing that rewards you with stunning views of Kenai Lake, Kenai River, and Cooper Landing.

This trail is one of the best hikes in Cooper Landing and makes a great early-season hike on the Kenai Peninsula since the peak has a south-facing slope, which means the snow melts quicker than north-facing slopes.

This hike is #57 in the Southcentral Alaska 100 Hikes Challenge.

In this post, I’m going to share how to hike Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing, Alaska.

Slaugter Gulch Trail Summary

Traditional Land: Dena’ina (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Time: 4 hours
Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
Difficulty: Difficult
Dogs: Yes

Quick Tips

  • Bring trekking poles
  • Carry water
  • Stay off private property

Slaughter Gulch Directions

Slaughter Gulch is located 101 miles south of Anchorage, which is less than a two-hour drive.

  1. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway
  2. Stay right at “The Y” and continue on the Sterling Highway
  3. In around 10.6 miles, turn right onto Stetson Circle in Cooper Landing
  4. Drive to the end of the road to find the parking lot

If this parking lot is full, you can park off of Langille Road and walk along the DOT road clearing area to meet up with the trail.

Hike Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing

Slaughter Gulch Trailhead

The Slaughter Gulch Trail starts at the dead-end of a dirt road and parking is very limited. There is no clear signage to mark the trailhead but there is a small, blank wooden sign off the to the right side where the trail begins.

Through the Woods

The beginning of the trail will take you through a wooded area and around the backside of a few homes in the area. It is fenced off but please be respectful of private property.

Soon the trail starts to gradually gain elevation and you’ll have to cross the clearing operations area where they are currently clearing the trail to build a new road through Cooper Landing. It’ll be interesting to see how the trail is routed once the construction is done.

cooper landing road clearing

If you continue straight up, you’ll follow the trail until you reach a split. There is a small wooden sign posted on a tree that says Slaughter Ridge Trail to the right.

This is where we had to cross a wet, swampy area that had scattered logs in place to help us get across the area. You can try to hold onto some of the nearby trees to help you keep your balance while crossing.

slaughter ridge trail alaska

A Steep Climb

After a little over a mile, you’ll reach a clearing and you’ll start to see some of the incredible views of Kenai Lake and Kenai River.

The views do get better as you continue the steep climb up but if you don’t have it in you, this is a good place to turn around.

cooper landing view from slaughter gulch trail

The trail reenters the forest before continuing up the ridge. There is another area where the trail splits. You’ll want to stay left.

The rest of the trail to the summit is steep, but the trail was dry and there weren’t any slippery spots.

cooper landing hike


I also spotted lots of wildflowers along the trail, including Forget Me Nots, Lupine, and Violets.

forget me not alaska
violet alaskan wildflower

Summit Views

Once you reach the summit of Slaughter Gulch, you’ll get some incredible views of Kenai Lake, Kenai River, Cooper Landing, and the surrounding Kenai Mountains.

The weather was cloudy for us on the way up and we were able to spot one Bald Eagle soaring above us. It was also windy and very chilly on the summit.

slaughter gulch summit view

Slaughter Gulch Trail is 5 miles out-and-back and it will take you around 2 hours to reach the summit from this trail.

I’ve rated the trail as difficult as it’s a really steep 2,600-foot climb to the summit. Trekking poles are really useful, especially if you don’t have the best knees.

The views are definitely worth the climb to the top! If you want, you can continue hiking along the ridge.

slaughter gulch elevation gain

A Steep Descent

The trail down is also steep and there are some areas where trekking poles are super useful. It’s also a really fun trail to run down if your knees are up for it!

best hike in cooper landing

The sun started to shine as we made our way down and the jackets came off.

It took us four hours to finish the trail and we ended the day with some beers from Cooper Landing Brewery, which is on the way back to Anchorage.

andrea kuuipo abroad slaughter ridge trail
cooper landing brewery alaska

Other Hikes in Cooper Landing

Cooper Landing has a ton of other awesome hikes. Check out Skilak Lookout, Resurrection Pass, Skyline Traverse, Crescent Creek, Hideout Trail, Russian Lakes, and Russian River Falls.

Happy hiking!

Pin For Later

Hike Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing, Alaska. This is the best hike in Cooper Landing on the Kenai Peninsula with incredible views of Kenai River and Kenai Lake. If you are traveling to Cooper Landing, Alaska, this is a great day hike to add to your Alaska vacation. #alaska #hiking #cooperlanding #travelalaska

Do you have any questions on hiking Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing? Let me know in the comments.

About Andrea Kuuipo

I was born and raised in Anchorage and have been able to travel to many places around Alaska. As an Alaska Travel Blogger, I love sharing my favorite things to see and do in my home state to help others plan an incredible trip!

5 thoughts on “Hike Slaughter Gulch in Cooper Landing”

  1. Thanks SO much for this blog, I did this hike several times in 1984 and it remains a true highlight for my stay there on the Kenai Peninsular. That view is totally worth the steep climb!
    Cheers Tricia in Queensland, Australia

  2. Hi, I love your blog, so much information! If we take the slaughter gulch trail, is it possible to appreciate the landscape even thought we do not take the full trail? Is there any safe parking lot around to leave the car? Thanks

    • Thanks Fernanda! Yes, you can still get some good views if you hike about a mile up. You can leave your car in the small parking lot where the trailhead is. Keep any valuables out of sight. Happy hiking!


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