#TBT: Alaska’s Russian River


Added by: Pat

Coordinates: 60.482716, -149.937519


North to Alaska

Wow, that’s what I remember saying as I stepped off my flight the first time I visited Alaska. That AH after a long trip through the night sky which gave little entertainment while passing over the barren land of North America. Wow is what greets you. There is something to be said about Alaska and her mountains. Mixed in with their rugged persona is the claim which grounds you. This atmosphere brings your normal life, in my case, to a halt. This is why we do this. Go to that extreme to find these places. The places which through hard work, physical exhaustion, and pain give you a feeling of peace. As told in a song “The Mountains Win Again.”

There is so much to see in this great state. Countless shows, books, and articles have given it justice. This post is an attempt to understand a portion through my eyes.

You will be anxious to get going. You have prepared and thought out this trip for months. Your packs went through and lightened. Fishing pole and supplies correct. Boots broke in ready for the miles ahead.

All of this put on hold for just a bit.


Because you have some sausage to eat.

Gwennies, in Anchorage, serves up a tasty breakfast complete with a reindeer sausage good enough to write a blog about. Close to the airport it is an excellent jumping off point and just in case you forgot some things; there is a nearby REI at the ready.

The ride around Turnagain Arm is filled with gazing moments. Lucky are the ones who have seen a beluga whale or rogue wave make their way into the arm before you turn left and what seems like the departure from civilization. Highway 1 scrolls into the interior of the Kenai Peninsula a well-suited playground for all outdoors.  

Next stop lunch in Cooper Landing and Gwins Lodge.

Chowder one word never to be forgotten. The salmon chowder at Gwin’s is, and I do not say this too often, TO DIE FOR. Mix in Amber Beer and that my friends is an excellent start and a story to be told. The bait shop next door also has the goods to stock your box and stoke your fire with the stories flowing from the fellow fishermen you meet.

Now I am not going to go over the countless places to stay in and around the area, mainly because I have always tent camped, nor the vast amount of guides available and incredibly skilled at putting fish in your quill. My approach is a do it yourself approach Alaska.

The Following my friends is a need to know first timers etiquette lesson. No disrespect to you my reader and fellow outdoor lover but my friend this will save you in the heat of battle.

“Fish on”  is the call, so you best know the drill. Cause you lose his fish, you lose a friend. Help him net his fish you are best friends for… the time you are there. Also to be known is the shuffle… the “Kenai Shuffle.” The art of casting your bait without casting at all. If you Fly Fish all it is is a roll cast. Done in the small confines of the real estate you call yours. But do not my friend tangle with others there is fish to caught. It can get pretty crazy at peak run times and this craziness you may get you excited enough not to follow the rules to a tee. Please read and follow the regs cause someone may be watching you.

Now that training course accomplished you need to make some choices.


Your stay: As told from underneath the rain fly…

The Russian river campground, just down from Gwin”s, is a great camping selection. Other than fishing there is a ton to do. Reservations need to be made in a timely matter, and during the run of June and July, this area draws crowds of outdoor enthusiasts.

My stay will be spent a little off the beaten path. After parking your car at the Russian River trailhead…..wait you have to hear a funny story about that. One year there was nowhere to park. So the sweet girls who volunteer at the entrance shack said they would move our car when a spot came available which they did after putting 70 miles on the rental…all good no harm no foul.  

So where was I…. yes you park your car at the trailhead lot. Make sure not to leave valuables in plain sight, while you hike bad people do bad things let’s not get your car broken into.



The hike is only 4 miles from the lot to the Russian River and falls upstream from the Kenai merge, a favorite fishing spot. One thing also to remember this is bear country I have seen bear claw marks 10 feet from the ground on a tree so please take all the precautions as not to get hurt.

My favorite camping spot is a half a mile upstream from the falls just downstream of the Lower Russian Lake. Fishing is abundant in this area and is less populated than the falls. Whether fishing the lake or river anything from salmon to trout can be caught. I once made a 9 mile 4-hour BEER RUN from this spot one of my favorite Alaska moments. I also shot fly line till my arm hurt hooking many an 18 plus inch trout wait that may be my best memory

If you’re up for a more extended hike cinch your pack and hike to the Upper Russian Lake a 12-mile stroll through the Chugach NF and some nice country. If you choose, the National Park Service offers cabins for use at both the Lower and Upper Russian Lakes.  

A bull moose and I shared our cabin space one year giving some very nice picture opportunities. The views are vast and spectacular with intrusion to a minimum as not many ventures this far.  Rentals can be made January 1st of every year, but again these go very fast. The trail loops all the way back out to civilization some 32 miles which makes it a very accomplished outdoor adventure. This post only touches the surface of what this state offers. In my ten years of going here, I have only scratched the surface of its magnificence.



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