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Thread: Swan lake Kenai

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    Default Swan lake Kenai

    Hi I will travel from East entrance down to moose river then out , as I quit new to canoeing I would like to no how difficult a trip this is. I will be travelling with my wife hope to go maybe in May ?
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    middle of May could be early [ trails not dyed out an ice ] who you should talk to is Max at the canoe rentals in Sterling , he puts a lot of campers / fisher man in there all summer , he also did run a car shuttle service to bring your car/TK out an waiting , the stream out of Swan is a tuff one, lots off weeds, some of people portage from Swan to the moose,
    when I was going there , the hardest part of the trip is the last few miles on the Moose wind , head wind all the way an no current to help out
    we norminally spent A week in there, Sat to Sat, with the boy scouts an was tired, SID

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    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    It's been, oh 35 years since I did that trip from the West entrance. My brother, friend and I and were complete newbies with two paddling and the third sitting in the center. We survived without tipping, I'm sure your wife and you will do great. I agree with Sid that you may want to go later in the year, although if it's a low snow year it may be dry by then. Our closest call to flipping the canoe came on the Moose River when we brushed by a submerged stump or rock. With fresh rain the two days prior there was a nice little current pushing us along and it was probably more our surprised reaction that put us at greater risk. Otherwise the only concerns were keeping rain out of the tent or wondering if we needed sunscreen.

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    Thank you so much for your advise it good to know as for time to go I have no choice, I will certainly contact Max
    Thanks

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    The trip in from the East entrance is not too difficult. However, that early in the year some of those lakes are still frozen sometimes. We go every spring and it just depends on the year. The first several lakes on that entrance do not have fish. Fishing is much better coming in through the West entrance, but it does make for a longer trip. Swan lake has terrific trout fishing and good size fish as well. Have fun.

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    I love this canoe trail. I have done this trip 4 times. Once as a scout myself and 3 times as an adult leader in my sons scout troop. I would not recommend any less than 4 days for the trip if you plan on enjoying the experience. And 5 days is my preferred pace. While it is possible to canoe from the moose horn directly to the moose river it is ill advised. Beavers have made a mess and it quickly becomes a weed choked canoe drag. The portage from Swan Lake to the Moose river is fairly straight forward and the easiest way to access the Moose. Consider spending one night on the Moose river itself as you are on the way out. I have completed the trip out from the lakes and down the moose all the way to Sterling in one shot on two of the trips. Both were miserable slogs towards the end. Especially when you reach the last few miles and face the ever present head winds.

    I have never completed the trip in May so others would have better information on the ice conditions, however, mid to late May should be possible.

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    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Swan lake route in may
    its a nice time to go,,,
    lakes open usually by the 15 or a little earlier
    fishing is good
    but as mentioned
    moose river may be very low depending on snow pack and also on spring rains
    May is a dryer month , so it's usually good weather
    check the river level at the moose river bridge and see if it's up,,
    if not then maybe a route loop and return to the car would be best
    let me know if you need any hr
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

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    Pm sent >

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    Haven't done this trip in 30 years, although I've been on the Swan Lake system several times since. As I recall, the connection to upper Moose Creek is on the SE end of Swan Lake. It was a very small trail, if I remember correctly. Upper Moose Creek is very brushy (at first), then narrow, and slow. It's a pretty slow route through some really swampy country. I like the lake routes the best.

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    Like alaskacanoe said it is usually opened up by the 15th - 20th of may which is a great time to do this trip but scope it out before heading out. I try to make this trip every spring...give yourself at least 4 days on the lakes and 2 days on the moose and it will be a good time! you can do this trip relatively quickly but then you dont really get a chance to explore and relax. If the moose is low there may be some added portages around certain areas of the river and there may also be new trees down across the river which will also have to be portaged around if you dont have the time to cut through them. A word of extreme caution....if you go in June dont forget the deet! Them skeeters are ruthless out there but will be far fewer in numbers if you can go right after ice out. I like to bust on through to Gavia lake and set up first camp there. If the bugs are out Gavia offers island camping and is usually windy enough to keep the bugs away. Its a great lake with great fishing and is a good base camp for exploring and Konchanee lake has beautiful water and good fishing also. Swan lake is also very beautiful and offers lots of great camping, good hiking and great fishing. Be careful about the wind on the bigger lakes as it can come up quick and add some chop to the water. Have fun!
    I just realized that the route i am referring to is from the West entrance.
    East entrance....faster trip to swan lake. No good fishing until you get to swan lake though. A warning about Teal lake...It is SHALLOW! It also has a very muddy/mucky put in from the east entrance but the haul out on the other side is decent. One time i went to paddle across with a loaded canoe and wound up bottoming out having to "push" the canoe with the paddle. The book says Teal lake has a max depth of 12ft but if it is it must be one very small hole that is 12ft deep. There may be a channel to follow but i did not find it! The book I am referring to is called "The Kenai Canoe Trails". Great book if you would like to really get to know the area. Have Fun!

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    Be sure that the lake is ice free. May would be good because there would be fewer bugs. Also, the trout get wormy as the summer progresses. May is better for fishing.

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    Member LindenTree's Avatar
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    I was just up the Swanson River Road today. The Ice will defiantly be out by mid may if not sooner if the warm that we have been having keeps up.

    I can't speak much of the route since I have never done it. I have only been into Swan Lake and Back out, however others have posted here and said that it is very doable, and to allow 3 - 5 days depending on your need to move. I have canoed a solo a lot and I think I could easily do it in 2 nites 3 days .

    With a group it may take a little longer.

    FYI: if anyone is thinking of going up the Swanson River Road this weekend, it is getting really bad, the frost is coming out and the bottom is going to drop out soon, Skilak Lake Road is even worse.

    The Swanson River Road should be good for your paddling experience in May.
    May the rivers be crooked and winding, and the portages lonesome, leading to the most "Amazing View".

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    Member LindenTree's Avatar
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    StGeorge,

    I flew over the Swanson River Canoe System yesterday and about 1/4 of the lakes are open, "the ones closer to Turn Again Arm".
    All lakes big and small on the Kenai Peninsula, should be clear of ice by 4/20 2016.
    Anchorage set a record high of 55 degrees F today.
    May the rivers be crooked and winding, and the portages lonesome, leading to the most "Amazing View".

  14. #14

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    Any updates on ice conditions in the Swan lake area? Anyone get out this weekend? Hoping to head there soon, but want to make sure ice won't be a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ozz123 View Post
    Any updates on ice conditions in the Swan lake area? Anyone get out this weekend? Hoping to head there soon, but want to make sure ice won't be a problem.
    No ice on Swan Lake, or the whole canoe system, you are good to go. Sorry, my response may be a little late. I've been busy at work.
    May the rivers be crooked and winding, and the portages lonesome, leading to the most "Amazing View".

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    Anyone know the condition of the portage trails? Assume they are ice free, but wonder if they are in decent shape.

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    Member LindenTree's Avatar
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    I just talked to the guy in charge of maintaining the canoe route trails for the Refuge today. They will not get to portages for a couple weeks yet, but he said, except for the occasional logs/trees over the trail they should be in good shape now. There was very little snow to bring down trees over the winter in that area, and because of early melt the mud is pretty much gone.

    I know I have canoed in the BWCAW of MN and the Canoe System here on the Kenai, and I would say that the portages here on the Kenai are way better and easier to walk than the ones in MN.
    May the rivers be crooked and winding, and the portages lonesome, leading to the most "Amazing View".

  18. #18

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    I did the Swanson route a few weeks ago and the portages were fine. I cut most of the deadfalls that I ran into that were over the trails. Saw several rigs parked at the Swan Lake entrance, so I would imagine those have had traffic as well.

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