The Kenai Peninsula offers incredible snowmachining opportunities for both high mountain adventure riders and flatlanders who prefer groomed trails. Photos below barely begin to capture the incredible scene you'll experience when you tour the Kenai Peninsula by snowmobile.
To help you prepare for your trip, here is a quick summary of the most popular snowmachining areas on the Kenai Peninsula:
Portage/Placer Valley--Located south of Anchorage on the Northernmost edge of the Kenai Peninsula, this area offers an incredible 360 degree panorama of glacier carved, snow covered mountains. Enjoy a mix of flats through the valley bed as you cruise up frozen creek beds, and bury yourself in deep powder as you get closer to the mountains. If you like a mix of terrain, this area is perfect. Access off of the Seward Highway at the end of Turnagain Arm.
Turnagain Pass--One of Alaska's most famous snowmachining areas, high in the mountains above Turnagain arm, accessed by a parking area at the summit of the pass on the Seward Highway. The summit area offers incredibly deep snow, with almost constant fresh snow throughout the season and well into spring. Mountain riders climb the steep pass and over the top to an incredible powder filled bowl on the west side. Use extreme caution as this area claims lives with avalanches every year.
Summit Lake--With two lakes at the base of high mountains in the Kenai Mountain Range halfway between Anchorage and Soldotna, this area offers some great riding in deep powder. Open expanses on the lakes as well as boondocking areas through the spruce, hemlock & willows at the base of the mountains. High marking hillsides rise straight from the lake. Access off of Seward Highway, approximately milepost 48.
Carter Lake/Crescent Lake--Just east of the Seward/Sterling Highway intersect, with a small parking area well marked as "Carter Lake Trail", this access point takes you straight up a trail, which is typically packed, to Carter Lake. Open expanses along the lake, hillsides to climb, and access further through the mountain valley on the far end of the lake to Crescent Lake and beyond.
Lost Lake/Primrose Access--At the east end of Kenai Lake, as you head toward Seward, you'll find the Primrose Campground and Lost Lake trail access parking lot on the right. This is a steep and moguly climb through dense hemlock forest to the mountains surrounding Lost Lake, high above and behind Kenai Lake. The ride is bumpy going up, and takes a 1/2 hour or so, but the endless riding and powder above offer an extreme experience for expert riders.
Lost Lake/Cooper Lake Access--You can climb through V-Max canyon and access Lost Lake from the opposite end by taking Snug Harbor road off of the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing, just past the Kenai Lake bridge. A seven mile drive up this partially paved/gravel road will take you to a small parking area, where you can unload and travel severl miles further up the road through a packed snowmachine corridor, and turn left at Rainbow Lake parking area to follow the tracks up the mountain, through V-Max Canyon and to Lost Lake. Bring extra fuel for this route, as you should probably do just about anywhere you go in case you get carried away with your riding--it's always nice to come home again safely.
Cooper Lake--If you don't turn at Rainbow Lake, enroute to Lost Lake (above) the trail/road will take you to Cooper Lake where you can ride around the perimeter and access boondocking terrain, creekbeds, and even the trail to Upper Russian Lake. Cooper Lake offers some excellent beginner and intermediate riding, with incredible mountain ambience.
Resurrection Trail--This 26 mile trail spans from the Sterling Hwy in Cooper Landing up and over Resurrection Pass to the very small town of Hope, located on the south side of Turnagain Arm (roughly across from Girdwood and Alyeska Ski resort). This trail is open to snowmaching only in even years (2008, 2010, etc.) The odd years are reserved for back country and nordic skiing. Forest Service cabins along the trail are available on a reservation basis for a unique mountain retreat. Several lakes, a mix of terrain, ice fishing potential, and scenic vistas make this a great family outing.
Mystery Creek--Access the southern foothills of the Kenai Mountain Range, and the Kenai flats out to Chickaloon and the southeastern edge of Turnagain arm by riding the Mystery Creek road and trail. Originally put in for running an underground gas line, this road is wide enough for 4-wheel drive vehicles in the summer for 30 miles or so, though you'd have to cross a couple of creeks along the way. By winter, the creeks are frozen and the riding is fun flatland trail riding. No grooming, just a natural packed trail. Play in the meadows and on a couple of small lakes along the way, this is a great beginner's area and popular with hunters & trappers so beware of traps and watch for slow riding hunters.
Caribou Hills--With more than 60 miles of groomed trails, maintained by the "Caribou Cabin Hoppers" snowmachine club, this area offers the best snowmachining on the central and southern Kenai Peninsula. Access is provided with ample parking off the Sterling Hwy on the left as you enter the highway community of "Clam Gulch"--famous for clamming in the spring and summer. The trails are groomed from that point taking you 20 miles back into the heart of the trail system. Additional access is found off of Oilwell Road further south in the community of Ninilchik. The drive up Oilwell road takes longer, but you end up unloading and riding from within a more central spot in the trail system. With many private cabins throughout the area, those transporting supplies to their cabin typically choose this access point, while we prefer Clam Gulch because it's closer to Soldotna and you get to ride sooner and further. The backside of this groomed trail system, toward Tustumena Lake and the Harding Ice Field, offers exceptional powder riding with terrain and challenging boondocking conditions. Due to forest fires in this area in recent years, and logging over time, be sure to watch out for hidden hazards at all times when you leave the trail.