Trail River

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    Jule Harle

      SOURCE: The Alaska Packraft Guidebook: Premier Rivers & Creeks in the 49th State (1st ed) Copyright: 2022 by Jule Harle.  Refer to the guidebook for additional info, photos, waypoints or detailed river maps. Author permission required to reproduce, duplicate or transfer following content.

      Difficulty: II (III-)
      Length: 2.3 miles
      Gauge: No gauge
      Shuttle: 2.6 miles
      Put-in: Trail Lake pullout on Vagt Lake

      Takeout: Trail River FS Campground

      Character: This run is short & sweet with beautiful turquoise water that connects the Vagt & Trail Lakes on the Kenai Peninsula.  The nearby Trail River Campground has excellent facilities if you’re looking for an area to camp or stage to go fishing.  Easy to bike or run the shuttle.

      Water Level: No gauge.  If it has water, it’s a go!  Expect the river to be very swift in June & July.

      River Description: Time: 30 min-1 hour.  You’ll warm up with a few minutes of class I, before the river makes it’s first class II bend to the left, with the water pushing into the rock wall on the right. Later in the summer, think June & July, the water can feel swift & fast, but it maintains it’s class II character until you reach the bridge.  

      The bridge rapid is class III-; there are waves, holes and fun eddy lines to play around with; multiple options exist here.  You can see everything from the vehicle bridge, so if you’re unsure of your ability, take some time to look at it.  There can be a large wave on the left that has potential for great surfing depending on the water level.  After the bridge rapid, Trail River maintains class II until the confluence with the lake.  When you get to the lake, turn right and paddle 400-500 ft until you get to the day use beach area.  It might be worth scouting out ahead of time, when you’re paddling on the lake, other areas look similar, but cut through private camp sites instead of returning you to the day use parking area.

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