Sunday, June 6, 2010

Diamond Creek Trail

Diamond Creek near the beach

One of our favorite hikes around Homer is the Diamond Creek Trail a few miles north out of Homer on the Sterling Highway. An unmarked gravel track across the road from the Diamond Ridge Rd. traverses a mile or so down and around to a trailhead. Oftentimes the parking lot is full and we've had to find a parking spot up the road at a pull-off.

The trail begins in an alder and pine forest with no view, but once you head around the first curve the panorama of Cook Inlet spreads out in front of you as the trail opens up with the gorge Diamond Creek cuts through. Over the past couple years mudslides have wiped out the trail a couple times and now erosion is cutting away at the trail, eating away at it. The first time we took this trail we were nervous as the trail drops off 50 feet or more down to the creek with no guardrail. With time we got used to the dropoff and just enjoyed the view.

Part of the fun of Diamond Creek is the geology. As you descend, you can see the different layers of stone in the cut. Another part of the fun is where the creek comes out onto the beach at the bottom. It is a kiddie playland, with logs criss-crossing the stream, big rocks, waterfalls and more. It is a common occurance to see sea otters a few feet off the shore while we sit and take in the sunshine, as well as eagles, cormorants and other birds. The kids love climbing the cliffs, though that could be a risky enterprise as 'slumps' are common when part of the cliff just drops off (in fact, a friend had one fall right over her head; close call!) and heads the direction of the beach.

The hike back up is a good workout, but not so long that it wipes us out. This is a favorite trail in part because many of the trails around Homer are boggy and take awhile to dry out enough to hike, but this one manages to be hikeable earlier than most. The kids enjoy the beach and this hike can be extended to whatever length one wants by hiking out and back on the beach either towards Homer or towards Anchor Point.

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