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Thread: Need some help planning a Swan Lake trip

  1. #1
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    Default Need some help planning a Swan Lake trip

    Hi all,

    Would like to take a small group of high school students through the Swan Lake system this June (3rd week). I would really appreciate some info on the time I should schedule for the different legs.

    We'll have a half day, then 3 full days, then a half day full available to paddle/camp. What are your suggestions? I was thinking of starting at the west entrance at canoe lake, traveling over to swan lake via gavia/konchanee, and then floating the moose down to the highway. Is that pushing too hard, or is that too mellow? How long does the Moose really take? My group will be made up of two very fit guides and a handful of high school students in decent shape but unexperienced at paddling.

    Any info is much appreciated - thanks in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default

    I think you should be just fine time wise. You might even get to spend a rest day on Swan Lake fishing. At least an easy day one day.
    We did it in 5 days with a full day layover & one short day on the 4th day. & then a LONG day on the Moose.
    If you only have half a day the last day you'll want to be part way down the moose when you camp the last night.
    When I took our church youth group thru last year, we spent between 8 & 10 hrs going down the Moose as memory serves. The last few miles was a bugger against a nasty headwind.
    Get a copy of the book "The Kenai Canoe Trails" if you don't have it. Great info on portages & camp sites.
    We'll have 2 groups going in on the 27th of June this year.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Max Finch!

    Get ahold of Max Finch (he goes by "Alaskacanoe" on this site.) He rents boats in that area and knows it well. He runs a company down that way called "Alaska Canoe Rentals". He's easy to talk to, and will be happy to help you!

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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  4. #4
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Thanks Mike

    I will be happy to help you with your plans.
    For the west entrance to Moose river out, I suggest at least a 3 night out.
    for most groups, Getting to Spruce the first night is about normal, the lakes in this area area often good fishing and some great camping.
    I like to take my time on the first couple of lakes, Canoe 1 and 2..
    they offer good fishing also, and are often overlooked as most paddle on past these first great little gems to get deep into the system.
    No matter where you decide to spend your nights in the lakes, you can plan on about 8 hours or so of paddling once you hit the moose river, so making part one day and finishing on the next is my choice.
    I like to go in the lakes just a few miles the first night, then on to Konchanee or around there for a night, then on to swan and over to the moose, then paddle a few hours down river and camp, then the last day I finish the trip with a 5 or 6 hour paddle.
    Lots of great camps on most of the lakes and along the trails.
    Swan lake has some great camps, and is a large lake. Some years the lake turns in summer months, and is full of algae type growth. The biggest fish I have caught in the system came from Swan though. it was over 24 inches long, and is a big fish for the lakes system.
    The swans need some room on the system, as the protect the cygnet nest, so be careful to not go too close.
    Coming out at the moose river go under the bridge and pull out at the boat launch area.
    you can give me a call from the Mosquito's bar or use your cell phone if you need a ride to your car.
    Or if you want, you can leave a car parked in the east end of the Mosquitos bar, and have it when you get out.
    any questions, just call me anytime.
    Max
    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

  5. #5
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    Default

    Fishin',
    You've got plenty of time. I've done several trips with a Boy Scout group over Memorial Day weekend. We go out on Friday afternoon, which given all of the issues with shuttles, kids, etc means it's well into the evening before we're launching at Canoe Lake.

    First night is usually a few lakes in, sometimes as far as Spruce. Then a very leisurely start and the second night on the island at Gavia with time spent fishing or exploring. The portages in and out of Swan Lake were tough for some of the smaller/less in shape kids.

    Swan can get some pretty good winds coming across it, so we try to stay as a group for safety. One year we has a tailwind on the same heading as the next portage, which was very sweet! Sunday night is spend along the Moose River. Then down to the highway on Monday, usually getting there in mid-afternoon.

    The upper part of the Moose moves along pretty well in May. Sometimes sweepers or trees across the whole river can be an issue, but you're never going so fast as to get in big trouble. Plus, you can stand up in much of the river! The lower river has been shallow in May and you might be fighting a headwind.

    It's a great trip -- Enjoy!

  6. #6
    Moderator David Johnson's Avatar
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    Question Bugs and fish on the Kenai Canoe Trails?

    I have a trip laid on with some friends who have never been canoeing. We'll be coming down to the Kenai Canoe Trails in mid June.

    What level of protection should we be preparing for bugs?

    And...how's the fishing then?

    Thanks....David
    David M Johnson
    Anchorage, Alaska
    http://awildolivebranch.blogspot.com

  7. #7
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default bugs

    The mosquito hatch on the kenai is so variable that I can never be sure of what to expect.
    A few years ago the first week of June was just horrible, I thought I was up at Cantwell when the wind dies down...The bug nets and even the mosquito suits are not enough,, because the sound of buzzing will drive you crazy..
    But normally,, its not bad at all,, the areas that seem to always harbor a few bugs though are.. the lakes that are surrounded by lowland swamp.
    the Moose river is sometimes a bit busy with bugs, but as you come down stream,, it seems to change and sometimes you won't see a skeeter..
    What happens in a Mosquito ranching all depends on rain... when the temperature is right, and just the right conditions for perfect egg laying and larve survival... then we get a bumper crop...
    but usually we don't need nets, but a little dope to keep us bite free.
    I predict that it will be a lower than normal mosquito year, due to our late break up here on the kenai.
    the lakes are not due to open until the 20 of may. We had colder than average temps this spring, so hopefully this keeps the hatches from getting an early start...
    May is a great time of year to hit the lakes though if you get the chance.
    the lakes are fantastic for fishing right at and after they open up...
    June is usually better than July for fishing, as the fish begin to load up on aquatic foods.. The leaches are usually a good bet for steady fishing action.. I like to troll the shoreline using spoons in various colors,, from hot pink on sunny days, to dark greens and blacks on the cloudy days..
    If you decide to travel down the Moose river, a great place to watch sockeye salmon is right below my favorite camping spot near the west entrance of the moose..
    June will is a great time to spend time exploring the Kenai canoe trails.
    Max
    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

  8. #8
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    Default

    Last year we had it pretty good bug wise June 9-13... until we got to Swan Lake. The portage into Swan Lake was bad. The Portage from Swan Lake to the Moose River was worse!!! The whole upper Moose was horrible. Kids didn't even want to stop & rest or eat (that tells you something with teenage boys!). We spent our last night on the portage between Swan Lake & the Moose River, camping on the ridge before you drop down to the river hoping the breeze there would clear out the bugs. No luck. Had to have smudge fires & the kids (and adults) spent most of their free time in the tents even though the weather was great.
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

  9. #9
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    Default Just did a quick pretrip

    I wanted to get a better feel for conditions prior to taking my group out so a buddy and I did the system yesterday. We cleared the West Entrance to the East Entrance via Rock/Loon (the long loop) in just under 9 hours.

    Those 3/4 mile portages are killers. Bugs were the worst around Rock, Loon, and Swan. No bears, and very little sign. We did come across 3/4 of a what looked like a whitefish that must have been killed by an otter that we scared off.

    We were moving fast and light and didn't stop for more then 10 minutes at a time. Next year I bet we could get our time under 8 hours.

    Great system, and I think it will be perfect for my group coming up in 2 weeks.

  10. #10
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    I've always thought it would be neet to have a canoe race that went from one entrance to the other.
    Just need somebody to do all the work & organize it so the rest of us can enjoy it!
    Vance in AK.

    Matthew 6:33
    "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

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