Kachemak Bay State Park includes 400,000 acres of mountains, bays, and beautiful shoreline. Visitors will find hiking trails, public use cabins, and unbeatable scenery such as this view from Grace Ridge. Photo courtesy Doug Shick (dvs), flickr.com
Atop Baycrest Hill on the way into Homer, an expanse of snow-capped mountains, glaciers, thick green forests, and glistening Kachemak Bay greet travelers. A scenic pullout provides a safe place for visitors to take in the view and stretch their legs, examining this vista a bit at a time.
The focus for some is on the boats chasing salmon. For others, it’s the Homer Spit, reaching a little over four miles into the bay. For me, it’s the broader views that include much of Kachemak Bay State Park.
Created by the Alaska State Legislature on May 9, 1970, Kachemak Bay State Park was the first in a soon-to-be expanded state park system. Over 400,000 acres were set aside to be enjoyed by the citizens of Alaska and visitors from around the world. Stretching from the waters of Kachemak Bay to the towering 4,000-foot nunataks, from Tutka Bay to Chugachik Island, from the rocky headlands and beaches of the south shore to the rolling hills and sandy bluffs of the north shore, the park is truly worthy of its wild and scenic designation. In celebration of the park’s 50th anniversary, the Friends of Kachemak Bay State Park invite Alaskans and visitors to explore Alaska’s first state park.
Here, trails lead to a glacial lake where, if lucky, a visitor might be able to capture a piece of crystalline glacial ice. Other trails wend through forested valleys or along alpine ridges that offer spectacular views of bays, inlets, and distant volcanoes. Take time to hike through the meandering Grewingk Valley, along the Blue Ice Trail. Ascend the Alpine Ridge. Check out the fishing at Leisure Lake. Traverse Grace Ridge, or just explore the numerous remote beaches along the shore.
For travelers who prefer to paddle instead of trek, the Kachemak Bay Water Trail stretches over 125 miles from the Homer Spit around the bay to Seldovia. There are 43 water trail sites identified where kayakers or boaters can observe wildlife, have a picnic, or camp overnight. A half-day guided paddle around Yukon Island or a multi-day adventure using developed campsites, yurts, public use cabins, or upscale lodges can be planned to suit all interests and abilities.
Throughout 2020, multiple events have honored the park’s anniversary, including everything from a winter carnival, parade, and birthday party to hikes, beer tasting, group paddles, art, and music. As the anniversary year winds down, visitors can still enjoy a glass of Kachemak Bay Blueberry wine at the Bear Creek Winery or a steaming cup of Ranger Roast coffee at Captains Coffee.