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Thread: Swanson River canoe trip

  1. #1

    Default Swanson River canoe trip

    Hello all, we have built a place on the Moose river just upstream from the bridge and have yet to explore the Moose river. We usually think about doing a trip down the Moose via the Swanson or Swan route, but just when we get to "serious" thinking, the reds hit the Kenai, and that's all she wrote. (Reds get the priority). What kind of time can you make these trips in? I'm not too interested in spending a load of time coming down, but would like to fish along the way. I know rainbows are the primary fish to be found, but are there others? Also, if we are limited on time, can anyone recommend a favorite lake or spot to spend the majority of our time, then hoof it the rest of the way? Bear contact? We would make this trip mid-late July.
    Jim House

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Smile canoe trails

    You will enjoy the canoe trails especially being lucky enough to canoe back to your home and not have to arrange a pickup. Just get Mike Quicks book on the canoe trails which has fishing information for all the lakes. I have seen people do the shortest routes with a lightweight kayak and minimal gear in a long day. Two or three days keeping moving. And a week for a long route with lots of camping, fishing and fun time. The weather may determine how long you want to spend there also. I have never even seen bear sign on those trails. One blackie along the river. I led camping trips on those trails in the summers for kids and we never took a gun. (of course we made a lot of noise)

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Moose River

    Hey, Jim! My husband and I took our old town canoe down the Moose River last July when the Reds were in a lull. A good purchase is Daniel Quick's book The Kenai Canoe Trails. It shows all the lakes that you'll have to pass through to make it to the river - there are 7 along the "short" east entrance of the Swan Lake Canoe Trails. Most of these lakes do not have great fish populations, so plan on going through them quickly unless you like to canoe and bird-watch. There are several camping spots around the lakes, though the book will give most of that information. Swan Lake is the largest and last lake, and I would plan on camping there the first night if you take it easy. The lakes will comprise about a third of the trip. The Moose is substantially smaller at the Swan Lake entrance than where you live! Plan on canoeing in a coleman or other canoe that is not new or can be scratched up. There are many tree-falls and gravel bars that you'll have to maneuver through. Also be aware that there will likely be substantial mosquitos as the river banks are not far apart and you can't get away! I would not agree with the previous gal about the bears. There are a ton of switchbacks on the Moose, and coming around one of those, we surprised a very nice sized brown bear! I was talking to my husband while we came around a bend and I heard rustling in the grass. I began to talk louder and in moments, the bear stuck his head out, we locked gazes, and as I raised my paddle to wave him off (& my husband grabbed his .44) the boar ran away. ALWAYS be prepared to see bears; those who don't are the ones who get mauled. We also saw a nice little school of spawning Reds on the river that we played with our light fly-tackle at our river camp. The camp sites on the river are very noticeable as they are only above the steep banks. Most of the river is grass banks, so the steep dirt banks stand out! You'll know it when you see it. We took a total of 12 hours to float this trip over 2 days. You can likely push and do it in a day, or you can spread it out over 3 days. I wouldn't go longer as it there are really not that many places to get out and fish, and it gets a bit mundane after a while. Spend longer trips going through the other lakes on the canoe trails! One nice thing about this trip is that you are not likely to run into other people! Most people we talked to about our float didn't even know where we were talking about and assumed we meant the Swanson River! I have to admit that our trip was not as grand as we had anticipated. I think I'd rather take the trip later in the summer or fall after the reds have gone and the mosquitos are less. Hope this all helps! Have a great float!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    I've never done the Moose River portion but plan to this year.
    I will say that I was in on the Swan Lake Canoe Trails system once last year with our church youth group & we saw two or 3 (one may have been the same bear twice)black bear & another group we talked to had seen a sow with 2 cubs on a separate lake. they said they had spoken with another group that had seen several bears (all were black bear) on different lakes yet.
    Seems most every group had seen at least a couple. No one had had any problems though.
    I was scouting for moose & bear hunting areas while we were on our trip & I have to say I saw more bear scat in that area than I have ever run accross in an area before.
    We were there in early-mid June.
    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."

  5. #5
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006

    Thumbs up Moose river

    Hey Big Jim,,
    The East entrance to Moose river bridge trip is not that long, if you are just into paddling..
    I have done the entire trip in about 11 hours. I have been put in at the east entrance in the morning and paddled out to moose river bridge in one day,, albiet a long day,,but just to give you perspective of how far it really is. I have done this with just a day pack with food for the trip, and a few items I would usually take on a day trip.
    I had a couple one year come by my canoe place that wanted to do the trip in a day.. they were in there 70's. a Husband and wife team. they had a Kevlar canoe that weighed about 30 lbs. Bent shaft paddles and running shoes.. I dropped them off at east entrance, and 9 hours later they called for a pickup at the Mosquito's bar.. I was amazed....
    they were competitive canoe paddlers and that was their game.. portage and paddle,, they were in great shape, and like I said in there early 70's.
    ,,, I on the other hand like to spend at least a night out on the system.
    West entrance is my favorite, as I like to fish, and camp. The lakes are wonderful, the views spectacular, and the Loons sing me to sleep at night.
    Give me call sometime if you decide to do a canoe trip, as we do shuttles to the different entrances daily, and sometimes many times a day depending on the number of groups. We take lots of people to the entrances that have their own canoes. This saves alot of time for those wanting to do a trip from either Swanson river to cookinlet, or west or east entrance to Moose river bridge.
    talk to you soon..
    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.


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