Looking for the best kayaking adventures in Southcentral Alaska? Southcentral Alaska is a huge region of Alaska that encompasses all the land from Homer to Wrangell St. Elias National Park.
Since this area is so large it really gives you plenty of incredible lakes, rivers, and oceans to paddle around.
In this post, I’m going to share five fun-filled kayaking adventures in Southcentral Alaska and directions on how to get there.
5 Best Kayaking Adventures in Southcentral Alaska
Traditional Land: Dena’ina; (Visit Native-Land.ca to identify whose land you live, work, and play on.)
1. Jim Lake to Knik River
Distance: 7.55 miles one-way
Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes
Jim Lake to Knik River is a 7.55 mile one-way paddle in Alaska’s Mat-Su Valley. This float trip within Knik River Public Use Area starts from a lake and takes you down a clearwater creek before entering a glacial-fed river. It’s a relatively chill and easy-going paddle under the right conditions, which makes it a perfect half-day adventure. Shuttling vehicles is required for this kayaking adventure!
Read the full trail guide: Kayaking Jim Lake to Knik River
How to get to Jim Lake From Anchorage:
Jim Lake access is located 48 miles north of Anchorage. From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway. Take the exit for S Old Glenn Highway. Turn right onto E Maud Road. Continue right onto Maud Road Exd to the end.
2. Portage Lake to Portage Glacier
Location: Portage Valley
Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
Portage Lake to Portage Glacier is a 6-mile roundtrip paddle in Alaska’s Portage Valley, just one hour south of Anchorage. This kayak trip starts from the Portage Lake kayak launch and hugs the coastline before reaching the face of Portage Glacier. If you want to kayak to a glacier in Southcentral Alaska then this is the perfect adventure for you!
Read the full trail guide: Kayak Portage Lake to Portage Glacier
How to get to Portage Lake From Anchorage:
Portage Lake kayak launch is located 55 miles south of Anchorage. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway. Turn left onto Portage Glacier Road. Continue driving until you reach the Portage Lake Overlook.
3. Eklutna Lake
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Time: 2 hours
One of the most popular kayaking adventures near Anchorage is Eklutna Lake. Eklutna Lake is a beautiful, turquoise, glacier-fed lake nestled in the Chugach Mountains. You can rent kayaks on-site here for $50 a day for a single kayak. Paddling across Eklutna Lake can be challenging and is not recommended for beginners due to its freezing cold water and unpredictable winds.
Related: Eklutna Lake Kokanee Cabin Review
How to get to Eklutna Lake From Anchorage:
From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway. Take the exit toward Eklutna. Drive to Eklutna Lake Road and follow until you reach the last parking lot.
4. Swan Lake Canoe Trail
Location: Kenai National Wildlife Refuge
Distance: 15 miles one-way
Time: 2-3 days
Swan Lake Canoe Trail is located in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge and covers 60 miles across 30 lakes that are all connected by shorter portages. This one-way canoe route is one of the best places in Alaska for a multi-night kayak camping trip. The route is really fun as you get to paddle across so many different lakes, including one covered in lily pads.
Read the full trail guide: Swan Lake Canoe Trail
How to get to Swan Lakes Canoe Route From Anchorage:
Swan Lake Canoe Trail is located 164 miles south of Anchorage. From Anchorage, head south on the Seward Highway and continue onto the Sterling Highway. Turn right onto Swanson River Road and continue for 16.6 miles. Turn right onto Swan Lake Road and continue for about 9.9 miles until you will see a sign for Swan Lake Canoe Route on the right.
5. Rabbit Slough
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Time: 3 hours
Rabbit Slough is located north of Anchorage in the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, a 45-square mile area of wetlands, forest, lakes, and tidal sloughs. This area has a rich diversity of habitat and wildlife, and kayaking here feels like you’re in Alaska’s version of a bayou. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for an easy afternoon paddle down a creek, as long as you keep an eye on the tides.
Read the full trail guide: Kayaking Rabbit Slough in Palmer Hay Flats
How to get to Rabbit Slough From Anchorage:
Rabbit Slough access is located 49 miles north of Anchorage. From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway. Continue towards Wasilla and exit on Trunk Road. Head south and exit onto the frontage road. Continue until you reach the turn off for the Rabbit Slough boat launch. Continue driving until you reach the Wasilla Creek parking area.
More Kayaking Destinations Near Anchorage
Other popular kayaking destinations near Anchorage include Portage Creek, Kenai River, Kachemak Bay, Passage Canal, Blackstone Bay, Reflections Lake, Beach Lake, and more.
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