Friday, July 22, 2016

Summit Creek Trail

I ran into an avid hiker recently and was talking hikes, and he said his all-time favorite hike on the Kenai Peninsula was the Summit Creek Hike because you get above treeline faster than any other hike. Of course I had to check it out, so on a recent camping trip as we were driving through the area, we decided to check it out.

Unmarked parking off
Seward Highway
Interestingly, this trail does not have a sign along the Seward Highway announcing its presence, unlike the Devil's Creek Trail which is just a few miles away and most other hikes. According to one online source, it is because of the fragile tundra ecosystem, but it runs parallel to the Devil's Creek Trail, and connects with the Resurrection Trail, so I'm not sure why this one gets special treatment. It does have a parking area, on the right just past the Upper Summit Lake, before passing the avalanche closure gates. We were coming from the south and opted to park in the large paved parking area across the road from it (not directly across, but quite close).

Within minutes past the trailhead, we were already getting views of the mountains around us, and 45 minutes got us to bunches of alders, but mostly wide open vistas up the valley and of the peaks around us. The trail is a nice single-track in good condition, similar to Devil's Creek in that it climbs along the side of a valley, and very gradual so it feels easy. We didn't notice the climb until we turned around and headed back and we were sweating a whole lot less going back!

Trailhead of Summit Creek Trail
The biggest treat of this hike was the fireweed--brilliant masses of it. The worst part of the hike was the heat, which felt like it was in the 80's and humid, which is why we didn't go a long ways. Here's some of the scenery from the hike:

First peek of views as the trail climbed out of the trees

Ferns, fireweed and a bit of view

Amazing fireweed vistas!

Likely an old mining road on the mountain across the valley from the trail

Looking up the Summit Creek valley
Apparently there is good backpacking up this trail, and one can hike up, along the Resurrection Trail for a bit and then back down Devil's Creek Trail for a really long day or couple of days hike.

After sweating buckets in a 1 1/2-2 hour hike on this trail, ice cream at Summit Lake Lodge was a nice treat. Apparently the lodge is for sale for a cool $3.5 million, so we were looking at it with fresh eyes, considering how much we like stopping there and wondering where we would get after-hike treats if not there. Likely back to Cooper Landing.

So this hike goes on our list for further exploration when we have more time and the weather is cooler!

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