Kayaking Rabbit Slough in Palmer Hay Flats

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 is a great place to recreate, whether you are paddling in the summer or ice skating on wild ice in the winter.

In this post, I’m going to share everything you need to know for kayaking Rabbit Slough.

Rabbit Slough Trail in Alaska

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: 3 hours
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Dogs: Yes

Quick Tips

  • Check the tide table!!
  • Use the bathroom before you start
  • Wear a life jacket
  • Bring water
  • Watch out for boaters

How to Get to Rabbit Slough Access

Rabbit Slough access is located 49 miles north of Anchorage and it’ll take you about 45 minutes to drive there. Parking is free and bathrooms are available to use.

Get driving directions on Google Maps here.

  1. From Anchorage, head north on the Glenn Highway
  2. Continue towards Wasilla and exit on Trunk Road
  3. Head south and exit onto the frontage road
  4. Continue until you reach the turn off for the Rabbit Slough boat launch
  5. Continue driving until you reach the Wasilla Creek parking area
rabbit slough parking access wasilla creek
Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Rabbit Slough Map

From the parking lot, you will access the creek at the confluence of Wasilla Creek and Rabbit Slough. As you can see on the aerial map below, Rabbit Slough eventually turns into Palmer Slough.


From Rabbit Slough Boat Launch

After blowing up the inflatable kayak that I used for this trip, I packed my kayak with a few items and hopped in from the bank. There is also a nice boat launch that you can use to easily get into your kayak.

Once you’re in your kayak, you will head south downstream on Rabbit Slough towards the Knik River. The water here is flat and really easy to paddle, which makes for a super chill day.

We paddled in August on a really nice, warm day. The tree colors were just starting to turn golden, which was beautiful. We didn’t have any issues with bugs, but this is always changing through the season.

kayaking rabbit slough palmer hay flats
palmer hay flats state game refuge alaska

Reaching The Flats

We paddled down Rabbit Slough until we reached the dry flats area where we were actually able to get out of our kayaks for a moment. This area is stunning!

Since it’s remote and the only way to really access it is via Rabbit Slough, you get to feel solidarity. You also get incredible, unobstructed views of the Chugach Mountains, Pioneer Peak and Twin Peaks!

palmer hay flats kayaking

Returning Upstream

Kayaking Rabbit Slough upstream can either be easygoing or challenging. The difference is all in the tide, which is why it’s important to plan your trip using the local tide tables.

During low tide, it can be challenging to paddle against the stream’s current. But, if you plan to paddle upstream with the incoming time it will make your trip much easier.

We kayaked a little over 2.5 miles, which is what I would recommend for other paddlers to do. This will make the trip about 3 hours long (average speed of 1.5 mph 😁), which makes a perfect day adventure!

rabbit slough mileage

If you are here on the weekend, you will probably see other people and boaters. Most of the time you can hear the boats coming around the corner, but keep an eye out.

Additional Information

Rabbit Slough in Winter

During the winter, Rabbit Slough turns into a great place for wild ice skating and winter fat biking. Make sure to check the weather and conditions before you head out to enjoy these frozen ice channels.

Fishing and Hunting

During the summer, you can fish for coho salmon. During the fall, many boaters venture out to hunt waterfowl. Watercraft is limited to motors of 3 horsepower or less. Check current permit requirements and regulations before heading out.


Within the Palmer Hay Flats State Game Refuge, you should look for for ducks, geese, swans, and sandhill cranes in the summer, and moose in the winter. We did see a glimpse of a moose when we we kayaked in August.

Happy paddling!

Read More

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Overnight Kayak Trip Packing List: Everything I Packed

Swan Lake Canoe Trail

Alaska Travel Guide

Pin For Later

Visit Alaska's Matsu Valley and go for a day kayak trip adventure on Rabbit Slough near the Knik River. This is a great activity to add to you Alaska vacation or trip during summer.

Do you have any questions about Kayaking Rabbit Slough in Palmer, Alaska? 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!

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