Jul 27, 2015

Three Hidden Alaskan Gems...

Of course Alaska is one of the most beautiful places on earth. There's plenty of websites and guides to the major attractions that tourist and locals alike visit. But there is also countless hidden gems that maybe even the locals are unaware of. So far this summer, we've discovered three great places here in Southcentral Alaska that are definitely worth the stop if you are in the area.

South Eagle River Falls:

Parking is extremely limited and it's almost a mile walk to the falls. But the trail is wide and easy walking. In the first part of the trail you'll cross a bridge of the South Fork of the Eagle River. This is downstream of the falls. Even coming this far is worth the walk. But of course, there's an even better view further down the trail. So stop for the view, but be sure to keep going on. You'll come to two Y's in the trail. Take the right hand trail each time.
This pictures isof the falls. You can click on the picture for a larger view... The journey to the parking area is a bit windy... But here's the Google Map link for it's location: https://goo.gl/maps/wX75w Basically it's off the Glenn Highway at the Hiland Road exit onto Eagle River Loop. Take a right onto Hiland Road, then eventually a left onto Riverview Drive and another left onto Waterall Road. Then a right on River Park Drive and finally a left onto Ken Logan. Pay attention to the no parking signs in certain areas.
If you are in an RV or pulling a trailer, this stop isn't going to work for you. I don't think there's enough room to get turned around and parked.
  Pioneer Falls
I think this is my new favorite place in the Valley!!! It's easy to get to and easy to park at. And oh, so beautiful. Within a few hundred feet of the parking area, you are along side this soothing, cooling waterfall. If you have an RV or are pulling a trailer, there's an alternate parking area a little further away that should work.Pioneer Falls comes off of Pioneer Peak and empties into the nearby Knik River. 

To get there: take the Old Glenn Highway exit off of the Glenn Highway near the Knik River Bridge. If you are coming from Palmer, you can take the Old Glenn Highway through the Butte. It's about the same distance either way... You are headed for Knik River Road. From the bridge, you travel 1.3 miles up Knik River Road to this point. If you watch closely you'll see a wooden "Pioneer Falls" sign on the right. Just past that is a driveway that leads to a small parking area. You'll hear and see the falls just a short way up from the parking area. If you miss the road to the parking area, or if you are in an RV, there's a turn out on the left hand side of the road just past the driveway. 
Bonus: if it's a nice, sunny day; the next road on the left leads down to a great swimming area.

UPDATE: I made another visit to Pioneer Falls in December. They are just as incredible in the winter.....

Quartz Creek Boat Launch at Kenai Lake
This final spot is a little further south, on the Kenai Peninsula. Normally I zoom through Cooper Landing, in a hurry to get to a fishing spot or to home. But if you've got a minute and need a break from driving, or if you are looking for somewhere to relax for a while; this is your spot.
 Just as you start to come into Cooper Landing from the north there's a turn off for Quartz Creek campground. Just a quarter of a mile down the road on the right is the Quartz Creek boat launch. Also located here is 4 picnic tables with unbelievable views of Kenai Lake.
Here's the spot on the map....


Andrew said...

Hi! Great post. Been trying to figure out where you found the swimming hole near Pioneer Falls? Can you give me any better directions on where to look?

AKStafford said...

Andrew: Just past the falls, look on the left. There'll be a gravel road going down to the river.